After the earthquake, Kobe rebuilt itself into a modern metropolis / Robert easton - Flickr Creative Commons

Reconstruction after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake

In the extensively damaged areas of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (GHAE), the Hyogo Prefectural Government (Hyogo) undertook Land Readjustment Projects (13 zones) and Urban Redevelopment Projects (6 zones). Through these projects, Hyogo built wide streets to prevent fire from spreading, open public spaces for evacuation sites, and consolidated old and densely clustered houses, to rebuild more resilient local towns that are safe and convenient.

Case Study

Creating a disaster-resilient society: Reconstruction after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake


In the Kobe and Hanshin areas (between Kobe and Osaka), there were many densely built-up areas of small-sized wooden houses. Many of these collapsed in the Earthquake and caused widespread fires, which was one of the reasons for the significant damage

In an effort to reconstruct the urban areas in Kobe and Hanshin, which were extensively damaged by the Earthquake, Hyogo systematically developed wider streets while improving neighbourhood parks and other public facilities to build disaster-resilient towns.

Coping Strategy

At the extensively-damaged areas, there were risks of disorderly redevelopment, if reconstruction was left uncontrolled. Consequently, the national Government established the Act on Special Measures for Earthquake Disaster Urban Area Reconstruction, and carried out recovery programmes according to a certain set of construction restrictions. Two months after the Earthquake, Hyogo designated six zones for urban redevelopment and 13 zones for land readjustment as a part of recovery projects. 

The reconstruction initiative also placed burdens on affected citizens, including building restrictions, land use regulations and land reduction for public facilities. So Hyogo arranged to establish citizen-driven organizations called the “Town Planning Councils,” incorporating their inputs instead of just Government-led plans. Local citizens continued discussions with each other to address consensus building in cooperation with academic experts, town planning consultants and volunteers. Meanwhile, they implemented a variety of programmes to make local communities safer and more attractive, including the submission of district planning proposals and the implementation of practical projects for community revitalisation.


By 2014, Hyogo completed land readjustment and urban redevelopment projects totaling 289.3 hectares for 18 zones out of the 19.

Measuring Success

Hyogo developed public facilities such as roads and parks to be used for evacuation sites during a disaster. It also made effort to remove densely clustered areas of old wooden houses. This enabled promotion of fire-resistant areas with a lower possibility of fire spreading. In the end, Hyogo succeeded in reconstructing the areas into a highly disaster-resilient town. Moreover, the housing supply programme progressed to an extent that allowed most disaster victims to live in permanent housings.

Potential for replication

These programmes are feasible if the government is equipped with a platform equivalent to the Japanese legal system based on the Land Readjustment Act and Urban Redevelopment Act.

It is essential for the government to get the understanding of citizens in order to achieve a quick and smooth recovery. For the government, it is important to continue conversation with citizens for achieving this.

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



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