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Government of Japan Holds International Forum on Resilience in Collaboration with IAFOR

February 26, 2019 Conferences No Comments Email Email

The Government of Japan, in collaboration with The International Academic Forum (IAFOR), held a major international event on Feb 22 which re-examined resilience from interdisciplinary perspectives and paradigms, from the abstract concept to the concrete, with thought leaders from academia, business, civil society and academia. The Kansai Resilience Forum provided a meeting place to discuss the ways in which society as a whole could demonstrate a capacity to overcome, and to reflect on the Japanese way of doing things, that it may contribute to building resilience in other societies as well.

The event took place in the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, and comprised three panel discussions covering themes of Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy, Resilience and Society, and Resilience and the Globalizing Economy. The Forum culminated in a keynote presentation by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando. Ando designed the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, which was completed in 2002, following the Kobe earthquake of 1995. The museum is a symbol of regeneration and renewal, a testament to the resilience of the city of Kobe.

The panel sessions started by looking at how Japan has drawn from its own experience to help other countries with similar vulnerabilities reduce the risk of natural disasters. Peng Er Lam, a political scientist from the National University of Singapore and panel moderator, suggested, “In the event of natural disasters, Japan and Southeast Asian countries help one another, and that in itself creates resilience.”

The next key topic was the challenge in coping with socio-economic shift, including demographic change, and the impact of robots and AI on society. Panelists examined how transformational elements could contribute to rapid societal change. Hidenobu Sumioka of Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories-ATR, Japan, explained “Robots can be a tool to connect people, and provide solutions to issues surrounding an aging society such as stress and loneliness. I am certain that we will be co-living with robots in near future.”

As tourism to Japan has increased dramatically, and with the forthcoming Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games, the panel turned to the impact of disasters and the perception of Japan’s safety. They examined the impact of natural disasters in disrupting the supply chain in the globalized economy. Tasuku Kuwabara, leader of McKinsey & Company’s Healthcare Practice in Japan and Asia, suggested that the “Speed and scale of the rapidly increasing diversity and internationalization in Japan is unique. With that in mind, further use of digital technology and adaptation of global best practices will be crucial.”Tadao Ando brought the Forum to a close with a keynote address that emphasized the positive nexus between the arts and resilience, and the impact all stakeholders can make in enhancing social resilience in their own unique way. The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art was created not just as a building to replace the wreckage of the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, but a monument to help Kobe and Japan place the tragedy behind them, to focus on beauty, and future. The power of art, stressed Ando, in the face of disaster.

The participants shared the view that the concept of resilience and its applications are relevant not only to natural disasters, but also to many other social and economic challenges that the world faces today. They agreed that Japan has much to share from its own experiences in coping with traditional and emerging threats. Regardless of the prospect of future disasters, Japanese society, with strong public and private partnership supported by the active participation of all stakeholders, will continue at the forefront of innovation to tackle forces of nature.

Forums like this are just one way that Japan can collaborate with global thought leaders and experts to share and discuss ideas and practices for overcoming such difficulties. Disaster risk reduction and the nurturing of resilience is contextualised as part of a wider global human security concern.

Additional supporters of The Kansai Resilience Forum included the Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP), Osaka University, Kobe University and the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art. Please visit for details and speaker notes.

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