[EDITORIALS]Disaster management neededIn the midst of the massive damage caused by Typhoon Maemi, it is frustrating to see that the focus is on the declaration of a “Special Disaster Area.” Taking into account next year’s legislative elections, politicians from the ruling and opposition parties are asserting that all areas that were hit by the typhoon be declared special disaster areas. That is why a revision of regulations of the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs is being discussed at the moment.
This is similar to the discussion that followed Typhoon Lusa last year. At the time, the government revised the Countermeasures against Natural Disasters Act to introduce a “special disaster area” system and declared 230 cities, counties and districts of the nation as special disaster areas. The budget that went into the recovery effort for these areas amounted to 7.5 trillion won ($6.4 billion). Despite the effort, some areas in Gangwon province were once again hit with huge losses from Maemi last week. This can be termed a human-caused disaster because the recovery efforts did not remove the disaster-causing factors or because the work was delayed due to compensation negotiations. Hence, declaring a special disaster area turned out not to be a panacea for the natural disaster.
We must establish a new disaster management system so that permanent recovery is possible and support for the affected people can be given on a timely basis. We must streamline the various disaster management-related organizations dispersed under the command of different ministries and create an integrated disaster management system under a unified command.
The government and people must realize that disasters are not irresistible natural disasters that return every year but can be prevented when effective measures are taken. It is advisable to introduce natural disaster insurance so that local residents can make a concerted effort at natural disaster management. This system already exists in the United States and a similar one exists in Japan. Instead of elaborate disaster recovery support, a comprehensive disaster management infrastructure is greatly needed.