Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (Masahiko Ohkubo)

International disaster reduction cooperation by a local government

The Hyogo Prefectural Government (Hyogo) provides disaster-recovery support based on our lessons to the world’s disaster-affected areas, by dispatching experts who have experienced the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (GHAE). At the same time, Hyogo uses disaster relief donations from its prefectural citizens to deliver support in the form of school reconstruction funds and scholarship programmes for disaster-affected children.

Hyogo accepts trainees from various countries to disseminate lessons from disasters, in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Disaster Reduction Learning Center (DRLC). Furthermore, Hyogo invited the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and the International Recovery Platform (IRP) to set up their Japanese offices in the Kobe New Eastern City Center (HAT-Kobe). These organizations have been promoting international disaster reduction and humanitarian support activities through the establishment of the Disaster Reduction Alliance (DRA), led mainly by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI).

Case Study

International disaster reduction cooperation by a local government


The experiences and lessons learned from the GHAE were valuable information that must be incorporated into earthquake disaster reduction programmes and shared with disaster reduction experts across the world. Given the significant relief service from home and abroad after the GHAE, Hyogo, partly as a means of returning this aid, has been actively implementing international exchange programmes designed to give recovery support to disaster-affected areas outside of Japan and to perform disaster management there.

Coping Strategy

Before the GHAE, Japanese local government international exchange activities consisted mainly of exchange with foreign sister states and provinces without having any relief support and information exchange channels dedicated to disaster reduction. To address this situation, Hyogo invited international disaster reduction institutions to set up their Japanese offices in the new East Kobe City Center; the prefectural government then worked closely with these institutions. Moreover, by cooperating with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), government has been carrying out programmes to swiftly dispatch experts to overseas disaster-affected areas while accepting trainees from such areas. 

Relief donations collected in Hyogo are used in a projects for specific purposes such as school reconstruction by way of local NGOs, which has helped establish a face-to-face relationship with overseas disaster-affected areas while engaging in mutual exchange with them on a medium to long-term basis. Examples are:

  • The 1999 Turkey Earthquake resulted in the establishment of a scholarship programme for earthquake-affected children who had lost their parents.
  • The 2004 Sumatra Earthquake and Indian Ocean Tsunami resulted in the construction of the Aceh Tsunami Museum in Indonesia and reconstruction of schools (Sri Lanka).


In the years to fiscal 2013, Hyogo dispatched a total of 152 government officers to 14 countries for disaster relief.

To date, it has raised donations for 14 overseas disasters such as the 2004 Sumatra Earthquake as a means of providing recovery support.

Measuring Success

In one example of its disaster reduction support to Turkey, Hyogo dispatched its prefectural government officers who had experienced GHAE to the Turkey Earthquake in 1999. Hyogo used the relief donations to provide scholarship subsidies for disaster-affected children in Turkey. Moreover, when Turkey’s Bursa Province developed its earthquake museum, the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI) provided planning and operational assistance to the provincial government. So, there has been a long term mutual exchange between Hyogo and Turkey. It is effective for a local government to have cooperation and exchange with an overseas disaster-affected area by providing relief support to victims there. Such an initiative is highly effective since it is capable of meeting local needs in an effective manner.

Potential for replication

Any municipality that has been seriously affected by a disaster should be encouraged to make every effort to carry out local government-level relief support and exchanges in addition to central government-level relief efforts in overseas disaster affected area, since the local government has the relevant experience and lessons learned in a closer relationship with local citizens.

Information of Contact Person

Mr.Masahiko MURATA – Director, Research Department

Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI)

1-5-2 Wakinohama-kaigandori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, 651-0073, Japan

Tel: +81-78-262-5065 / Fax: +81-78-262-5082

Mail: murata1@dri.ne.jp


Mr.Naoki Nakatsu – Chief, Disaster Management Project Planning Division,

Disaster Management & Planning Bureau,

Civil Policy Planning & Administration Department

5-10-1 Shimoyamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, 650-8567, Japan

Tel: +81-78-362-9870 / Fax: +81-78-362-9914

Mail: naoki_nakatsu@pref.hyogo.lg.jp