NRI Papers
No. 173 May 1, 2012
  Rethinking a Business Continuity Plan (BCP): What Should Companies Learn from the Great East Japan Earthquake?
— Visualizing disaster risks to reflect in risk dispersion strategies —
 
Kazuchika ASANO

The Great East Japan Earthquake was the first ever instance of a highly networked modern society being struck by a major disaster, with the scale and extent of the damage being far greater than what would be expected. Its effects extended to areas that were not even directly struck by the earthquake.

However, there were many situations where measures taken based on lessons learned from previous earthquakes were effective in mitigating the effects of this disaster, which remind us that it is very important for us to have an attitude of "learning from disasters."

While the Great East Japan Earthquake was of a scale that occurs only once in every 1,000 years, the government has stated that there is an 87 percent probability of an earthquake striking the Tokai region within the next 30 years. In the past, massive multi-segment sequential earthquakes simultaneously striking the Tokai, Tonankai and Nankai regions had occurred every 100 to 150 years, indicating that there is a high probability of major sequential earthquakes occurring in the near future.

Any such sequential earthquakes would seriously affect Japan's pivotal areas supporting production activities. If the corridor connecting the eastern and western regions of the country were to be crippled, there is a good chance that the effects could far outstrip those of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

If these expected earthquakes strike, the disruption of the supply chain and basic infrastructure will present the risk of halting business operations over a wide area even if a company's own facilities are not directly hit.

To reduce such risks, it is necessary to define the regional blocks necessary to ensure business continuity by visualizing the risks involved and look into the way in which facility sites in Japan are rearranged and functions are shared among these blocks, including those in other countries.

Contents
I Facts Highlighted by the Great East Japan Earthquake
II Impact of Expected Major Multi-segment Sequential Earthquakes
III Promoting the Relocation of Facilities by Visualizing Risks
IV Future Efforts Required of Enterprises

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