Hemant Nagpal, director, Model Product Management, RMS
Manabu Masuda, senior director, Modeling, RMS
Junichi Sakai, lead modeler, Model Development, RMS
Many factors made the recent devastating flooding and subsequent landslides and mudslides in Japan during July stand out as a defining event. From the intensity of the rainfall, the extent of the area affected and the loss of life, the sheer scale of this event was summarized by an official from the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry in Japan, who said “This is the first-time damage has extended to such a wide area since the (2011) Great East Japan Earthquake.”
As of July 16, Japan’s National Police Agency reported that 219 people had been killed, and many remain missing. Data provided on July 20 from the Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) reported damage to around 40,000 buildings across 31 prefectures, and just over half of these prefectures had 50 or more buildings damaged. Some of the worst-hit areas include Okayama, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Ehime, Kyoto, Yamaguchi, Gifu, and Kochi.
At least 270 elementary and junior high schools were damaged; the commercial sector experienced widespread damage and destruction from landslides and rivers breaching their banks or defenses. Operations were suspended at Mazda Motor, chemicals giant Teijin and brewers Asahi Shuzo, among others, disrupting supply chains far from the disaster areas. Only 30 percent of large enterprises account for flooding in their continuity plans, according to recent Cabinet Office survey.
Overall, this event is the nation’s deadliest weather disaster since 322 people were killed in floods and landslides across western Japan in July 1982. Early estimates indicate economic losses could be higher than US$1 billion with significant impact on manufacturing and tourism. The insured losses may take some time to develop. What caused this event to happen?