Last month, I had the honor of partnering with the National Council for Science and the Environment, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the scientific basis for environmental decision-making, by presenting during the 13th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment in Washington, DC. This year’s topic was Disasters and the Environment — Science, Preparedness and Resilience. The three day conference brought together over 1,000 participants with keynote presentations, six plenary sessions, 24 symposia and 22 workshops.
I participated in a session entitled “Cascading Disasters,” aiming to analyze the effects of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Specifically, we discussed how the earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima plant and how the company, employees and surrounding community coped in the days that followed.
As the video and photos show, the events of March 11, 2011 were tragic. When the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck two years ago, it devastated our region and it also halted vehicle assembly. It destroyed many factories in northeastern Japan, causing severe parts shortages for Toyota. Since then, Toyota has developed a series of countermeasures to ensure that if such an event were to occur again, our operations in the region would remain functional. Since our plants employ large numbers of people, the disaster did more than affect our products – it threatened the community’s livelihood.
Toyota immediately mobilized after the disasters and provided 250 cars for local government authorities in four areas hardest hit by the disaster, while also providing nearly 500 apartments in Aichi Prefecture to people evacuated from affected areas. Toyota also worked hard to send truckloads of emergency medical supplies to victims in affected regions. In addition, Toyota monetary contributions to support relief efforts in Japan during the difficult time reached more than $11 million, with Toyota employees, dealers, suppliers and other business partners in North America also contributing more than $7 million. We also matched employee contributions in an effort to provide as much support to relief efforts as possible.
Since the earthquake and tsunami, we have been able to get back on track and regain momentum with our North American production reaching 1.78 million vehicles manufactured in 2012, up 41 percent from 2011 and surpassing its previous record of 1.72 million in 2007.
I hope that this session was helpful in educating the audience about the Japanese experience during this crisis, and that lessons learned from the event will lead to resilient communities responding more effectively to future disasters.
Photo Gallery Source: The US Navy