The development community loves jargon. The buzzword of this year must be ‘resilience’. Resilience to natural disaster. Resilience to financial crisis. Resilience to … There are hundreds of usage.
Defining resilience as capability to recover, the reaction of Tokyo people over Typhoon is an interesting case.
How did Tokyo behave over the largest typhoon?
The largest typhoon for the past decade in Japan, hit Tokyo in the morning on Wednesday. Wipha, named after a Thai girl, was moving on the coastline near Tokyo at 6 am to 9 am. Looking outside from the window, a rubbish bin and a bicycle were crawling on the street themselves. No people were on the street. The radio was warning people to stay inside.
Opening the internet, I was surprised to see many people were still talking about how to get to their office in the typhoon. In fact, most trains stopped operations due to strong wind, over 30 metre per hour. There were even real time twitters from the train station saying, “I’m waiting at the platform while almost blown away. So many people are waiting for the train to resume operation. I wanna get in the train to get my office in time as soon as it restarts. ”
Japanese people usually make fun of themselves by calling themselves “Company Slave”. Whatever happens, they try to go to their office. It sometimes does not matter whether or not there are any urgent tasks to work out at that day. That is because their goal is not to complete tasks but rather show their presence at the office as usual.
Anyway, at 11 am, the cattle trucks restarted. People were happy though the overloaded rates were 200% to 300% according to a passenger’s view.
Do the Workaholic characteristics make Japan resilient?
Behind the workaholic people, I would like to draw an insight related to resilience. The thing is the fact that Tokyo recovered immediately after Typhoon passed, and people were at office afternoon as usual. Why was Tokyo able to do that? There are two factors.
As widely known, the Japanese architecture standard is the highest in the world. Most buildings are ready for M7 – M8 earthquake. The transport system also works well. Most underground metros were in operation under the typhoon. Also, as we often have disasters, we have almost got used to it and trust the transportation system working anytime. Continuing operations have made people feel safe.
Japanese people are responsible for their own tasks, partially which makes them workaholic. As introduced in the above story, people are willing to go to work even in the storm.
These two factors may be categorised as ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ factors. Infrastructure resumed its operation immediately and shipped responsible employees back to their daily life.
Though I believe Japanese should change the workaholic mindset and put more weight on private life, I think that this would be an interesting case to introduce in the context of resilience.