Relief efforts have been organised for the affected regions, with PM Abe announcing that he would forego a visit to Europe this week in order to deal with the after-effects of the disaster. Both the LDP and opposition parties have established relief funds for victims of the disaster, with NGOs engaging in fund raising activities and volunteers offering to assist in clean-up and recovery efforts.
While the situation itself is gradually improving, there are literal dark clouds on the horizon. With the most recent rainfall happening right in the middle of summer, further heavy rainfall can be expected to occur over the next few months, particularly when Japan enters its ‘typhoon season’ (usually August through to early October). This could exacerbate problems as high winds coupled with heavy rains might increase the level of damage to property and lead to further loss of life.
It is in situations like this that Japan’s expertise in disaster response becomes obvious, given the speed at which evacuation centres have been established, rescue efforts coordinated, and temporary facilities installed to provide the essentials for everyday living. What Japan might require for the future, however, is more disaster oriented equipment, such as larger transport aircraft (say, either C-17s or even C-5s) or more All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). Apparently Japan only possesses a single ExtremV ATV (dubbed the ‘Red Salamander’), which is used by the Aichi Prefecture Okazaki City Fire Brigade. Clearly in areas affected by flooding or landslides, such versatile vehicles could be very effective in transporting rescue crews or evacuating stranded residents, however it does not appear that any further purchases have been organised on a national scale. With predictions that similar disasters may become a regular feature of summer in Japan, it would seem far wiser to begin budgeting for these and other rescue-oriented pieces of equipment than, say, the purchase of further Osprey aircraft (about which many Japanese regional governments still retain serious doubts vis-à-vis safety).