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Japanese EQ – What next? Focus on what is important.

March 17, 2011

The recent events in Japan have sent many reporters to our doors…these are our responses to the most common questions we have been asked.

What impact do you think this event (EQ, tsunami and nuclear emergency) will have on global business?

Supply chain disruptions on a global scale are very likely.  The wild card is the impact to the world economy. In 2010, the IMF reported that Japan is the third largest economy in the world as sorted by their GDP.  This by the way is a recent change.  In mid-February 2011, China became the world’s second-largest economy after the US, ending Japan’s 42-year reign in the second spot.   Japan also is one of the largest debtor nations with a  7.47 trillion dollars debt.  This will make the restoration required after this Armageddon like disaster a serious financial challenge.

How do you think the U.S. would have fared if the earthquake was just off the coast of California rather than Japan?

There would be no comparison.  Japan is hands down far ahead of the US in the area of government and citizen preparedness.  Our citizens are overall woefully unprepared.  Most national survey’s note that when asked “how prepared for a disaster that is likely for your area/region” less that 8% of U.S. citizens reply affirmatively. Governments do not fund mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery efforts to the same level as Japan.  With our military and National Guard deployed abroad in such large numbers, we would struggle to place a comparable level of resources to the response and recovery effort.

Japanese rescue workers search for missing people in Minamisanriku.

What can businesses learn from the actions and priorities of the Japanese government?

Get ready!  You must have a basic level of preparedness in place to keep your business functional after a major incident.  You should not depend or expect that the government will be able to restore services quickly enough for your business to stay afloat.  At a bare minimum, invest in the following:

People – Focus on Emergency preparedness

  • Training for all staff
  • Drills (fire, EQ, tornado, shelter-in-place)
  • Emphasis family and home preparedness


  • What are your mission critical processes?  What must get done in the first 24, 48, 72 hours and the first week?  How can those be done in the light of no office space, or systems?  What are some workarounds?


  • Ensure that you have an adequate back up and recovery solution that matches your mission critical processes.  If they don’t match, improve your recovery strategies or get better work-arounds.

Facility issues

  • Conduct an assessment of likely areas of concern.  Where possible mitigate those hazards.  An example would be to secure servers to prevent them from falling over during ground shaking.


  • Telephone trees for all employees – test quarterly
  • Telephone trees for vendors – check at least every six months

Don’t wait to act.  Take this seriously – your life and business could depend on it!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2011 10:17

    Unfortunately, there is way too much hype in the media today about the nuclear incident in Fukushima prefecture. There are many objective radiation measurements in and around the nuclear plant and across Japan that indicate safety is not a major issue for most of Japan’s population. Unfortunately, many are not reading past the cataclysmic headlines to understand what the real risk is here.

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