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E1834e – Long Road to Preservation and Utilization of Materials: In Response to the Kumamoto Earthquake

The original article published in Japanese ( )

Current Awareness-E No.310

1 September, 2016

Long Road to Preservation and Utilization of Materials:
In Response to the Kumamoto Earthquake


On July 3, 2016, Network for Historical Materials (hereafter Shiryo Net, see CA1743) hosted a symposium “Long Way to Preservation and Utilization of Materials: Kumamoto Earthquake (資料保全と活用の長い道のり―熊本地震によせて―)” at Umeda Intelligent Laboratory of Kobe University in Osaka City. Sixty people participated. As one of the organizers, I will summarize in this report issues discussed at the symposium.

●Objective of the Symposium

In response to the Kumamoto Earthquake since April 14, 2016, Rescue Network for Damaged Historical Documents in Kumamoto (hereafter Kumamoto Shiryo Net) was established on April 21 by local individuals engaged in history and culture. Given these movements, Shiryo Net based in Kansai region consulted Kumamoto Shiryo Net and decided to serve as the contact on behalf for accepting donations to support their activities.

With such background, the symposium aimed to think about ways to support regions affected by Kumamoto Earthquake by looking back on wide range of challenges in preserving historical materials. These include importance for those engaged in preserving materials to get involved in communities before the disaster, ways for surrounding regions to provide support at the time of the disaster, as well as first responses by local governments. We also cannot ignore issues on preservation of materials that continue to exist in regions affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Fukushima Prefecture has entered a new phase with detailed plans being discussed for establishing “The Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Archive Hub Facility (東日本大震災・原子力災害アーカイブ拠点施設).” The ongoing challenge is to continue to value efforts to preserve materials in Fukushima that has progressed step by step, as well as diverse history and culture of communities that these activities revealed. We believe that considering these challenges will certainly lead to protecting rich local history and culture in affected Kumamoto, where preservation of materials is shifting into full swing.

●Summary of the Symposium

Hiroaki Nagano of Shiryo Net Secretariat made a presentation titled “Situations of Damage and Activities to Preserve Materials in Kumamoto Earthquake (熊本地震における被害状況と資料保全活動).” Based on on-site observations and interviews with the Secretariat of Kumamoto Shiryo Net, he described situations of damage within Kumamoto Prefecture as well as efforts made by Kumamoto Shiryo Net, institutions collecting materials, and universities. Also reported was the ongoing “Project to Rescue Damaged Cultural Properties in Kumamoto Prefecture (熊本県被災文化財救援事業),” where National Institutes for Cultural Heritage, Kumamoto Prefectural Board of Education, and related institutions within the prefecture investigate and preserve damaged cultural properties within Kumamoto Prefecture.

Satoshi Shirouzu from Voluntary Group on Preservation of Local Historical Materials (地域史料保全有志の会) made a presentation titled “Afterthought on Preserving Historical Materials: Pre-disaster Efforts that Worked (結果論からの史料保全-何をしていたことが生きたのか).” He described processes and developments of preserving materials in Sakae Village (Nagano Prefecture) affected by Northern Nagano Earthquake on March 12, 2011. He reflected back on his activities in the village and highlighted key points for preserving damaged materials. He pointed to usefulness of relationships with communities established through investigation of historical materials before the disaster, as well as records of rescue in exhibiting rescued materials at restored facilities.

Takahiro Kobayashi of Yamagata Relief Network for Cultural Heritage presented under the title “Things That Changed, Things That Didn’t Change (変わったこと、変わらなかったこと).” The presentation re-examined mission and objectives of the Network at the time of launch in 2008. He highlighted the Network’s characteristic of intentionally not having “core” activities and of horizontally expanding the scope of activities in small steps.

Toru Fujiki from Board of Education of Sayo Town, Hyogo Prefecture made a presentation titled “Rescue of Cultural Properties and Preservation of Materials: From the Perspective of An Local Official (文化財レスキューと資料保全―自治体職員の立場から).” As an local official, he described efforts to preserve materials in Sayo Town, Hyogo Prefecture, that suffered damage by heavy rain caused by Typhoon No.9 in 2009. The presentation reflected back on challenges of first-aid and temporal preservation of damaged materials, and reported on developments of efforts to preserve materials in everyday lives after the flood. He also pointed to the role of disaster countermeasures such as regional disaster prevention plans of local governments as well as action manual for officials.

Yoshio Kikuchi of Fukushima Network for Preservation of Historical Materials (ふくしま歴史資料保存ネットワーク) made a presentation titled “Current Status of Disaster Museum Initiative in Fukushima (福島の震災ミュージアム構想の現在).” He introduced the current status of Fukushima Prefecture with needs to preserve materials rescued from evacuation zone designated in response to the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Also needed is a facility to simultaneously succeed the history of the disaster and the accident. The talk also highlighted how to present diverse history and culture of the region. Kikuchi’s presentation was closely related to the root of preserving damaged materials.

Based on cases of disaster response that the speakers were involved, each presentation touched on challenges common to preserving materials, and proposed necessary ways to deal with the issue. Discussions followed based on these proposals.

Discussed in a panel with the five presenters were current status of regions affected by Kumamoto Earthquake, timing to begin preservation of materials following a disaster, and how to obtain understanding from the residents. There is a need to consistently obtain understanding that rescuing history and culture lead to reconstruction of the region in a long run. Discussed in details were how to deepen such understanding through utilization of rescued materials in partnership with local communities.

Donations to support activities of Kumamoto Shiryo Net is still being collected. Please refer to Shiryo Net website for details. We ask for cooperation among the readers of this article.

Written by Yoshihara Daishi
Network for Historical Material
Translated by Okada Aya