March 9, 2012
Organizing Post-Disaster Response in Japan
by Sakiko Yamazaki
The assistance provided by HSI in the year since the Tohoku disaster is greatly appreciated by animal protection stakeholders in Japan. HSI‘s financial and technical assistance has helped numerous animals and their owners to recover from the impact of the disaster.
Still, there have been challenges. As a consultant for HSI, at times I have felt the difficulties of working with multiple stakeholders who were not well organized and networked enough to be prepared for and responsive to the disaster.
The Ministry of the Environment has jurisdiction over companion animals and animal welfare issues. A central disaster response team for animals, which consists of the Japan Veterinary Medical Association, Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Japan Animal Welfare Society, and Japan Pet Care Association, undertook initiatives to provide aid for animals affected by the disaster. Local authorities also have their own headquarters for disaster response, which involves prefectural veterinary medical associations and other local stakeholders of animal welfare. However, at times, coordination between these different groups was slow, which led to delays in delivery of support and relief to animals and owners in need.
Under such circumstances, it was very reassuring for both animals and their owners to have a well-established international organization like HSI involved. HSI has been excellent in trying to understand the changing circumstances of the animals affected by the disaster, and in collecting appropriate information and networking with relevant agencies to achieve the maximum benefit for animals and those who care about them. Give now to help.
Dr. Sakiko Yamazaki, an expert on the human-animal bond, is consulting for HSI in Japan.