International Symposium on Risk Communication coorganized with NSF (2014)

October 16, 2014

On October 16, 2014, RISTEX and the USA's National Science Foundation (NSF) held a joint international symposium titled "Risk Communication -- How Can We Communicate Risk and How Can We Confront Risk in Society?"

Japan suffered extensive damage as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the associated tsunamis and nuclear plant accidents. The ensuing chaos and uncertainty forced us to scrutinize our decision making processes and the way in which scientists and policy makers should communicate with each other and society at large, with the result that risk communication and management have become the focus of keen interest overseas as well as in Japan. The symposium provided an opportunity for researchers in this field from Japan, America and other countries to introduce their latest findings and discuss the focus and direction of future research in risk communication and management.

Following opening remarks by JST Senior Executive Director Satoru Ohtake and NSF Tokyo Office Head Kellina Craig-Henderson, Prof. Haruo Hayashi of Kyoto University took the stage as representative for Japan to explain the purpose of the symposium, laying out the limitations of risk communication models to date and advocating the need for new models.
This was followed by two sessions, namely "Risk communication: Interpreting and acting on risks from natural and technological hazards" and "Motives and mechanisms for sharing risk information", that featured presentations by Japanese, American and Swiss researchers. These presentations covered many perspectives, including research reports on factors related to the cognition of risk information and decisions governing behavior, the influence of information obtained through news broadcasts and social media, and frontline initiatives and issues related to addressing anxiety and stress after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

After the sessions, researchers from New Zealand joined the session speakers for a panel discussion on future directions that was moderated by Prof. Ann Bostrom of the University of Washington. Participants argued for the utilization of new information tools, promotion of independent community-led initiatives, and communication aimed at prompt post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.


Prof. Ann Bostrom(University of Washington)

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