Forensic investigation of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster: A case study of Rikuzentakata

Tadashi Nakasu, Yuichi Ono, Wiraporn Pothisiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Using the forensic investigation (FORIN) approach, the purpose of this paper is to identify the factors that exacerbated the loss of human life in one of the most devastated local municipalities on the coast by 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET) disaster. Design/methodology/approach: This paper begins by reviewing the extent of damage to the local municipalities along the Sanriku ria coast, which has a long history of tsunami disasters. Second, the paper compares previous major tsunami events by using a human vulnerability index, and applies this index to detect the city of Rikuzentakata. Third, the paper identifies the root causes of the GEJET disaster in the city. Interview records with disaster victims were used to elucidate the main factors that exacerbated the number of deaths. Findings: The study indicates that the FORIN approach can be effectively applied to identify the target city for this case study and to point to those factors the most exacerbated human sufferings, and also provides many lessons based on research findings and methodologies to support building resilient societies in the future. Originality/value: This paper indicates FORIN approach as an effective research template by investigating the GEJET disaster.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-313
Number of pages16
JournalDisaster Prevention and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • FORIN approach
  • Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
  • Historical comparison
  • Rikuzentakata
  • Root causes


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