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Facing misfortune - disasters and support for people with disabilities/illnessesFacing misfortune – disasters and support for people with disabilities/illnesses 2012

writer: TATEIWA, Shinya (Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Professor ) published: 2013-3

Project activities

 Since the 2011 Tohoku earthquake,the lives/evacuation of people with disabilities or illnesses have remained difficult under the current circumstances, and a state of affairs continues to exist in which, as a result of this difficulty, many of these people have been sent to welfare facilities and hospitals in unfamiliar places where they are to remain until they die. A movement has been launched, however, to create conditions that would avoid this situation and allow them to live where they want. We have had productive interactions with people involved in the organizations behind this movement for over twenty-five years, gathering information about the current lives of the people in question and searching together for approaches connected to improving their lives in the future.
 In this project, students at this university, including graduate students with an interest in this area, go to the sites in question and gather information about the current situation while assisting local private organizations and individuals. Some of this work has been reported at academic conferences and other events in Japan and Korea. For more on our activities please visit our page ( on Ritsumeikan University’s Ars Vivendi Global Center of Excellence (GCOE) website (

that can be done from far away

 What researchers can do, I believe, is not only visit the disaster area but also “follow up and gather.”
What we can do from a distance is gather, disseminate and analyze information related to people with disabilities/illnesses and the disaster in general. To give some concrete examples, we can “gather and post on our website information on residential and care systems and sources of information/consultation services” and “confirm the problems/circumstances that arise when resources needed to live/survive when things like power outages occur become difficult to obtain, and consider and suggest what kind of responses should be pursued.”
 On March 14th, 2011, Ritsumeikan University’s Ars Vivendi GCOE created a Tohoku earthquake page on its website (Japanese page: This site now receives 10,000,000 hits per year, these activities have been described in newspapers and other media, and we ourselves have worked to introduce our work through special editions of journals related to the earthquake and other writings (information on these reports and related literature can be found on our website.) At present there are over one hundred related items (files) on the site,and the text alone amounts to over 80 MB of data. Collecting/making availablerelated reports is dull, grinding work, but I think it is necessary in order to document what has occurred, including the state of reporting on these events, and shed light on the response going forward.     
 There was a time when the most important thing seemed to be an immediate (emergency) response and provision of information, but I think what we can do now is continue following up and gathering information without stopping. People at these sites are busy so it is difficult for them to document what is occurring, and we want them to concentrate on their work.

People living at home with
medical devices

 There were many requests for“Together with Medical Devices –In Order to Live Outside of Institutions, Symposium Report “How Did You Survive the Disaster and Power Outages?: Inviting People with Intractable Diseases / People with Ventilators Living at Home in Fukushima,”a report/disaster manual presented at a symposium in the autumn of 2011, and within two weeks nearly all of the one thousand copies that had been printed were gone. The entire document, including the manual “‘Living at home’ – blackout preparations for people using medical devices in their daily lives” (PDF file), can be found on our website (full Japanese text:,partial English translation:

Related projects

  • A Comprehensive and Proactive Simulation of an Inclusive Community:Creating a Sustainable Model of Collaborative Services Using the University as a Core Resource. Facing misfortune - disasters and support for people with disabilities/illnesses


Ritsumeikan Journal of Human Sciences


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Institute of Ars Vivendi. Ritsumeikan Univ.