Intercultural Communication Center (ICC)Waseda University

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Event Report: Getting Started with Bosai

Haruka Sato
ICC Student Staff Leader
School of Culture, Media and Society

Event Synopsis 

On May 14, in collaboration with NHK WORLD-JAPAN and the student organization WASEND (Waseda Student Organization for the Education of Natural Disasters), ICC held an online workshop on the theme of BOSAI (in Japanese 防災, meaning disaster prevention or preparation). 

In the first half of the event, we talked about “Our” BOSAI: what BOSAI is as a concept, and the different measures taken towards natural disasters and minimizing their impact. Collaborators gave lectures about recent instances of major natural disasters in the country and their work in promoting natural disaster awareness. NHK told us about their role as a broadcaster in the face of an emergency, as well as screening some exclusive footage from their archives. WASEND described their activities as a student organization promoting disaster prevention. Following the lectures, participants returned to their group to reflect on the presentations, and shared their concerns about being prepared for a disaster. 

In the second half, the topic was “My” BOSAI, as in how we as individuals need to take part in disaster prevention. WASEND gave a lecture introducing some practical tips on what supplies to have stocked in the case of an emergency, and how to earthquake-proof your home. NHK provided guidance on how to access breaking news reports and disaster information in different languages. To wrap up the event, we had another sharing session in groups, where participants were able to go through some of the tips and facts with each other, and ask the guests about their concerns to further their understanding. 

Behind the Scenes 

Bosai is a concept that should be very familiar to locals here, since it is taught from the start of school education. From earthquakes to volcanic eruptions, floods and landslides, Japan is a country where devastatingly large disasters strike on a regular basis, without warning. I was in my fourth year of  elementary school in Japan when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in 2011, but having lived overseas up until that year, I remember being terrified of the idea of an earthquake in itself, let alone a major disaster. Many of us were sorely unprepared for that disaster, but I remember those who weren’t as familiar with Japanese culture were especially lost, in the midst of nationwide chaos and lack of information.  

Ever since I first applied to become a Student Staff Leader here in 2019, it has been my wish to host an event where non-Japanese speakers can inform themselves about Japanese Bosai. Although I thought it would be impossible to get people entirely prepared and ready through one event, my goal was to provide information on what Bosai is about, and where to look for further information. That is where my ideas met NHK WORLD-JAPAN’s plans for a similar event, and we were able to collaborate alongside WASEND to create an online workshop, with COVID-19 measures in mind. I’m glad that many participants found the event informative and meaningful, and I hope it becomes the starting point for some to begin thinking about and preparing their own Bosai. 

Breakout Group (photo by ICC)

Finally 

And last but not least, thank you very much to our collaborators: NHK WORLD-JAPAN, and WASEND! Your lectures and information made this event as meaningful as it was. We look forward to working with you again sometime 

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