Tag Archives: japan earthquake

The Disappearing Tokyo Risk Audit

Without the ability to measure, how do we know if we are making progress?

In December 2012, in preparation for the renewal of the UN Millennium Development Goals, I wrote a report for the U.K. Government Department for International Development (DFID) advocating that catastrophe models should be used to measure progress in disaster risk reduction. I suggested goals could be set to target a 50 percent reduction in expected casualties and a 20 percent reduction in normalized economic losses, over the period of a decade, based on the output of a catastrophe model.

Two years later, the seven targets agreed at the UN meeting on Disaster Risk Reduction, held on March 14–18, 2015, in Sendai, Japan – were a disappointment. The first two targets for “Disaster Mortality” and “Affected People” would simply compare data from 2020-2030 with 2005-2015. The third target was to “reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global GDP by 2030”. Yet we know, especially for casualties – even at a global level, a decade is not enough to define a stable mean. For cities and countries, comparing two decades of data will generate spurious conclusions.

And so, it was a relief to see that only two weeks later, the Japanese and Tokyo city governments announced they had set themselves the challenge of halving earthquake casualties over a decade, measured by modeling a hypothetical event based on the M7 1855 Edo earthquake under Tokyo. I referenced this announcement and quoted it widely in presentations, to highlight that risk modeling had been embraced by the country with the most advanced policies for disaster risk reduction.

Over the last two years, I started searching for some update on this initiative. What kind of progress in risk reduction was being achieved, whether the targets for Tokyo would be met? And I found my original links had all stopped connecting. Perhaps in my enthusiasm I had dreamt it?

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Japan: No Risk (Management), No Reward

Yasunori Araga, managing director – RMS Japan

Christine Ziehmann, vice president – Model Product Management, RMS

On June 14, RMS Japan welcomed 119 insurance professionals to its fourth In:Site conference — a record total, high-up on the twenty-sixth floor of the Sanno Park Tower in Tokyo, with the RMS Japan headquarters also based in this building.

Yasunori Araga, managing director of RMS Japan opened the afternoon event, and introduced an agenda that was highly relevant to the core concerns of RMS clients, from domestic issues such as earthquake risk in Japan, to the flooding and related losses following Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The agenda also explored the impact of modeling on one of the oldest lines of business — marine, and right through to one of the newest with cyber. The event attracted insurance professionals from multiple departments of insurance companies, such as reinsurance, risk management, property underwriting, casualty underwriting, marine underwriting, international and more.

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