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The World Meteorological Organization's Fact Finding Mission to the Japan Meteorological Agency

Tokyo, Japan
18-19 April 2011

    The delegation of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) composed of Dr. Geoffrey Love, Director of Weather and Disaster Risk Reduction Services Department, Mr Peter Chen, Chief of Data-processing and Forecsting Division and Mr Kuniyuki Shida, Programme Manager of the Regional Office for Asia and the South-West Pacific, carried out a fact-finding mission to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) from 18 to 19 April 2011. The mission aimed at reviewing the JMA's emergency response to “The 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake” which occurred on 11 March 2011.

Dr. Geoffrey Love (right) and Dr Mituhiko Hatori
    On 18 April 2011, the delegation received a series of briefings by experts of relevant departments of JMA and visited the operation rooms for earthquake and tsunami information, meteorological observations and forecasting. Topics covered include damages to the meteorological observing systems of JMA by the earthquake and tsunami and their recovery, the back-up operation for aviation weather services of the Sendai airport office severely damaged by the tsunami, the operation of the earthquake and tsunami warning system of JMA, effectiveness of GTS as a communication tool for tsunami warning, the strategy of dissemination of JMA's multi-hazard warnings, the adjustment of criteria for heavy rain warnings for affected areas and the issuance of alerts on high tide in coastal regions with subsidence. The Environmental Emergent Response (EER) operation was also discussed.
    On 19 April 2011, the delegation made a courtesy call to Dr Mitsuhiko Hatori, Director-General of JMA and Permanent Representative of Japan with WMO. Dr. Hatori expressed his hearty welcome to the delegation and expressed his pleasure to have this opportunity to share JMA's lessons learned through this disaster. He also stressed that JMA found the effectiveness of the English portal website established right after the earthquake and tsunami as a tool of timely provision of earthquake, tsunami and meteorological information for the affected areas to foreign countries including their media and intenational organizations as well as foreign rescue teams in operation in the affected areas. Dr. Love, on behalf of WMO, expressed his respect not only for JMA's immediate issuance of tsunami warning after the occurrence of the earthquake but also the its dedication to keeping its operational function under such severe situations at the headquarters and local offices in the affected area. He recalled that WMO had established the link to the JMA's portal at its home page and made briefings to international media. Dr. Love also commended the JMA's provision of tailored meteorological information in consideration of increased disaster risks due to the earthquake, such as adjustment of criteria for alerting sediment disaster due to heavy rain, which would be one of the best practices of multi-hazard risk management, and should be shared among the WMO Members at the coming WMO Congress to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 16 May to 3 June 2011. WMO_2011

Dr. Geoffrey Love, Mr Peter Chen, and Mr Kuniyuki Shida (left to right) at the operation room for earthquake and tsunami information.