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2013年3月12日 (火)

自衛隊震災派遣 平時から自治体と連携深めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 11, 2013)
SDF must boost cooperation with others to fight disasters
自衛隊震災派遣 平時から自治体と連携深めよ(3月10日付・読売社説)

It is obviously important for the Self-Defense Forces to prepare for emergencies by learning from the lessons of two years ago and reflecting them in future antidiaster plans. And these plans must be repeatedly practiced in the form of exercises in cooperation with local municipalities and other entities.

The Great East Japan Earthquake posed five unprecedented challenges for the SDF:

-- Conducting rescue and support activities for disaster victims by mobilizing 100,000 of its members, the largest mobilization in its history.

-- Implementing a full-scale operational integration of the ground, maritime and air forces.

-- Participating in Operation Tomodachi, a joint rescue operation conducted by Japanese and U.S. forces.

-- Calling up SDF reserve personnel.

-- Dealing with the disaster on two fronts--the earthquake and tsunami on the one hand and the nuclear crisis on the other.

Before the March 11, 2011, disaster, the Defense Ministry had plans to deal with three kinds of devastating earthquakes, including an epicentral temblor with its focus just beneath the Tokyo metropolitan area. The ministry's plans for how to fight disasters caused by powerful earthquakes generated in the Japan Trench and the Kuril Trench were still in the making.


Cooperation in ordinary times

Through application of the plans for dealing with an earthquake directly beneath the capital to the March 11 catastrophe, however, the SDF was relatively swift in deploying troops from across the country and coordinating its activities with various organizations concerned.

The contingency plan for an epicentral earthquake just below Tokyo that was revised toward the end of last year was based on such premises as establishing integrated troop units and joint Japanese-U.S. operations on the basis of the experiences of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The ministry is to work on plans in the near future for a potentially gigantic Nankai Trough earthquake.

It is especially important to ensure close cooperation between the SDF and such organizations as local governments in ordinary times, to beef up antiquake arrangements by stockpiling food and other things needed for disaster relief operations.

The Ground Self-Defense Force's North Eastern Army Headquarters in Sendai, which served as the forward command in the earthquake and tsunami disaster, held a meeting in September 2011 to study the disaster's lessons with affected local governments, police, fire departments and regional offices of the Japan Coast Guard. In January this year, they implemented a map exercise with the aim of sharing information and collaborating to provide disaster victims with medical services.

Another map exercise on a larger scale is scheduled in fiscal 2013, while field exercises involving 20,000 to 30,000 personnel from the Self-Defense Forces and other organizations will take place in fiscal 2014.

To maximize the number of lives saved in the initial phase of rescue activities, the period called "golden 72 hours" is crucial.

What should be done to secure emergency communications to ensure the efficient mobilization of SDF troops and a solid grasp of what is going on in disaster-hit areas if wire and wireless communications go down because of power outages?


Training feedback desirable

First of all, training must be carried out after antidisaster plans are drawn up. To solve problems, if any, that come to light through the training, the plans must be reviewed and thoroughly revamped if necessary.

This cycle of training and improvement must be constantly iterated so it will lead to steps that can save a larger number of disaster victims.

One high-ranking GSDF officer said: "We can only put into practice what we learn through training. Based on this fact, we've been studying the specifics of our day-to-day training."

Such a high sense of awareness is certainly conducive to enhancing the quality of SDF training.

In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the SDF has significantly increased the number of agreements it has concluded with various organs to obtain their cooperation in emergencies.

One of them, an accord with expressway operators, will allow SDF vehicles to preferentially pass through expressways and use rest stops for emergency purposes.

Private major supermarket chains, for their part, have promised to provide the SDF with emergency goods, including food, in times of crisis.

It is definitely important to steadily expand the network for such cooperation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 10, 2013)
(2013年3月10日01時12分  読売新聞)


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