Japan Disaster Prevention Information

To help you understand the point of this post, I’ve recorded a little video of the view from my bedroom window. You’ll need to watch the video before I delve into the topic of “disaster prevention information” in Japan.

My peaceful neighborhood in Japan

If you can’t view the video, you can watch it here on YouTube.

What was that and why should I care?

What you just saw was, in my opinion, an abuse of the Disaster Prevention Radio system set up by the Japan government’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA).

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications describes the radio system as such:

The disaster radio systems built by the national and local governments are based on the experience gained in past disasters. The purpose of the radio systems is to secure a means to collect and transmit disaster information in the times of emergency.

That is echoed by Tokyo’s Toshima City officials who state on their website…

With the goal of relaying accurate information related to disasters in a speedy manner, there are public announcement radio systems (loudspeakers) set in elementary and junior high schools and public parks.

Indeed, the disaster prevention communication network is quite extravagant:

Japan Disaster Prevention Network

An abuse of the system?

I’m fine with having such a network of loudspeakers dotted across the landscape if they are used for their intended purpose, that is to relay disaster information. However, as you saw in the video, playing a daily song so children know when to go home is a bit much for me, particularly when it frightens the life out of Rikuto, triggering another session of tears.

Still, Mami thinks I’m overreacting and she’s probably right. After all, this is a country that likes to be told what to do, and I don’t see anyone else complaining.

Japanese public loudspeaker

A little more imagination

If we must sit through a minute of music every afternoon, why not spruce things up a bit? Let’s have a different song every day, and throw in some vocals so we can sing along! Why not let the locals call a DJ at City Hall and make requests? Do you think they’d play Chorus Water? Perhaps local government could lower taxes, replacing the lost revenue with company sponsorship: “Today’s 5 o’clock jingle is brought to you by Morinaga Milk”.

Do these announcements annoy you, too? How else could this elaborate network of loudspeakers be used?

31 comments

  1. Trackback: www.japansoc.com
  2. Hyung Lee

    Hi

    I am a publisher of THE EAST; the only English newspaper, which is mainly focused on the East Asian information (at the beginning of every month, more than 12,000 free copies are distributed throughout the London area, particularly, where East Asian Networks are established).

    I looked at your blog the other day and have been wondering if there would be any chance that we could publish some of your interesting articles on the paper.

    Snip! Cut off by Nick for being way off topic.

    • Nick Ramsay

      Hyung, sorry but no, you can’t use my articles. If you had called me by my name, told me which articles you wanted to use, and used my contact form instead of just pasting the same comment here as you did here and here, I might have agreed. As it is, I’m not convinced you’ve ever looked at this blog. Anyway, good luck with your newspaper.

      • Shane

        Me too! I actually responded to Hyung to ask about the publication since the website is a bunch of links and some you tube video (not very newsy). I haven’t heard back yet and a friend of mine in London said that she thought that the address that he gave was residential. Hmmmm….

  3. Mum

    Surely Nick, this is just a way of making sure the system works properly should a disaster hit.

  4. Shane

    Nick – I love your Mum! And to Mum I say thanks for putting a positive spin on something that can really be quite annoying at times…

    Here in the big city (Chiba) we don’t get our daily song but they do announce when school lets out and I’m told that the announcement tells everyone that the kids will be on the roadways and to drive carefully. That’s a bit better use of the system….I think…

    • Nick Ramsay

      That brings up the similar topic of “schoolkid streets”, the designated routes to and from schools which children HAVE TO use. Heaven forbid they find their own way to school! :shock:

  5. Brad

    You know I had no idea those were used for disaster announcements! Every Japanese person I’ve asked says they’re just so children can go home on time… but that’s still retarded as most kids are still in school at 5pm and those that aren’t don’t listen to the music anyway. Seriously, how many children do you see running home when they heard this music.

    Maybe it was relevant 40 years ago but it really doesn’t serve much purpose now.

    I don’t mind it and like hearing each town’s different tune but I’ve met some people who have the speakers literally right outside their windows and get blasted every day.

    • Nick Ramsay

      The weird thing is that my wife is grateful we live so near the speaker. I guess it brings her a sense of comfort that us foreigners could never understand… :neutral:

  6. Steve in Nagoya

    Well, it is much better than having the Right Wingers in their big black vans roll through town every weekend screaming for the foreigners to get out of Japan. Or the Bozozuka idiots roaring down the street at 3am. Oh the joys of city life!

    • Nick Ramsay

      You’re not wrong there, Steve. When I lived in Nagoya, I would spend many sleepless nights planning evil revenge attacks against those… erm… terrorists! :twisted:

  7. Steve

    This is not cool and any forced music like this should only be put onto a military base only. Unless it was voted for by the general public.

  8. Mark

    I’ll trade you that speaker and song for the yaki imo vendors who circulate in my neighborhood. Sometimes four different trucks in one day!

      • ジェイソン (Jason)

        I used to be treated to the “Come Home Children” music as well as two Yaki Imo drive-by’s twice a day on my days off while living with the in-laws. Now that Reiko and I have moved in to our place in Haba, we only have the occasional melody from the factory next to us telling everyone that the work day is done :???:

  9. ThePenguin

    Hmm, maybe someone has worked out that by playing that particular music at that volume they can prevent disasters?

    I wonder if they pay royalties on that bit of “music”? Maybe there’s a Japanese equivalent of the RIAA you could complain to, I’m sure that would be the most effective way of getting something done if liberal application of dynamite is not an option.

  10. Nick Ramsay

    Nobody said whether they fell for my trick of telling you to turn your volume up just before the loudspeaker stated playing. I was hoping I’d catch a few of you out with that one! :-P

  11. Mark

    >Nobody said whether they fell for my trick of telling you to turn your volume up.
    I fell for it. Doh!

  12. Chris B

    Your area looks similar to mine if not a little more Inaka? SuoOshima has that address system + reminders to children to do their homework, old people don’t leave the stoves unattended etc etc

  13. Mike

    You should rig the system so that instead of the morinaga milk jingle becomes the chorus water jingle by nick ramsay! that jingle rules!

  14. Keith

    I like the fact that they wake you up in the middle of the night to let you know that there is a fire 20 minutes from your house so take care. Then an hour later after you have fallen back to sleep, they wake you up to let you know that it is safe and that you can now relax.
    I used to think it was the government telling us that production was up 3% and that we are happy or unhappy with you!
    Mind you I really think it is cute that they use the speakers to find old people who have lost their way and to keep an eye out for them! The other day I heard one and they describe what this person was wearing an roughly an hour later, let everyone know that they had found them and that they were safe and well.

    • Nick Ramsay

      That would be hilarious at first, but very not funny when you realize they are serious…. “Ding Dong! Put your backs into it people, FTSE has dropped 9 points!… This announcement has been sponsored by Morinaga Milk, the fine people who brought you Chorus Water. Ding!”

  15. Steve in Nagoya

    Makes you wonder how many of the lost old people are found standing directly underneath the blaring loud speaker. It must attract them like a moth to a flame assuming they aren’t completely deaf.