Junior Champions’ Work on Avoiding Deaths of Tsunamis

Junior champions in Osaka have been working on avoiding tsunami deaths since 2013 with one of the ADN’s presidents, Dr Hideyuki Shiroshita

By: Dr Hideyuki Shiroshita

On the 7th of December 2022, pupils aka the Junior Champions played several types of games during their regular class at Hama elementary school in the city of Izumiotsu, Osaka prefecture.

Why did the teachers allow the Junior Champions to play games?

50 Junior Champions were allowed to play the games because they were not normal games rather games for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Moreover, all games were developed by them as products of disaster education in 2022.

This academic year, 50 Junior Champions of Hama elementary school developed 12 types of Tsunami DRR Games to spread important information about the city that immediate escape saves everyone’s life. The city faced two considerably different damage estimations prepared by the Osaka Prefectural Government. One estimation accounted for more than 2,000  casualties due to the future Nankai tsunami, the other one assessed that no one would die due to the tsunami. The difference in the estimation of deaths was based on one which was the residents’ level of awareness on how to escape from tsunamis. If the residents were aware of the tsunami risk and escaped immediately after the earthquake, no one would be swept away by the tsunami. However, if the level of awareness of escape from the tsunami was low – the estimation presumed that only 20% of  people needed to evacuate immediately escape after the earthquake in this case – more than 2,000 people would die.

The Junior Champions intended to raise the level of evacuation awareness through the games they developed.  They started their endeavour in July 2022 and first considered the key message that should be spread by the games. These included “Preciousness of life”, “Preparedness is important to escape from the tsunami”, and “Let’s learn how to protect your life when the earthquake and tsunami occur”.

Then, the Junior Champions designed games to disseminate the key messages to others with enjoyment. They carefully planned for the balance between seriousness and enjoyment. University students from Dr. Hideyuki Shiroshita’s laboratory guided the champions to design meaningful DRR games from the DRR perspective. The champions tested their games twice to confirm whether the decided key messages were well disseminated. Based on the feedback on their games from their peers, some part of the game were improved.

It took more than three months to develop the games. The games include Sugoroku, which is a boardgame using dice for randomizing the step of a piece, for teaching the preparedness for escaping from tsunamis, Karuta, which is matching cards, for telling some important tips for DRR and battle cards for learning how the countermeasures work for hazards and so forth.

After the development the School Principal said, “The pupils could deepen their understanding of Tsunami DRR through developing DRR games. I would like to spread the key messages throughout the school using the features of the games”.

It has already been planned that the 4th-grade pupils will use the games to learn tsunami DRR, and the school will invite the parents, guardians, and residents to disseminate the games the Junior Champions developed at the beginning of 2023.

From the DRR education perspective, one of the important points to expand DRR activities is widening the entrance to the DRR field i.e. diversifying the approaches to DRR activities. In this regard, it can be said that the Junior Champions contributed to the DRR in Osaka in the way that widening the entrance to invite more people to the DRR field.s





Author’s short bio: Dr Hideyuki Shiroshita is the Founding President of ADN and an Associate Professor at Kansai University’s Graduate School and Faculty of Societal Safety Sciences in Japan.

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