CH-DRM Network,Japan

Secretariat of the National Task Force
for the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network

An Overview

Packing and recording work in front of Ishinomaki Cultural Center,Iwate prefecture, April 2015 (photo by : Jyunji Teraguchi)

The Great East Japan Earthquake that struck on 11 March 2011 caused a huge tsunami and triggered an accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, compelling local residents to evacuate. The combined disaster also damaged large numbers of valuable cultural objects and materials.

This led the Agency for Cultural Affairs (ACA) to call for the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage (NICH) and 13 other arts and culture organizations to form a special committee to launch a cultural properties rescue operation.
In April 2011, the Committee for Salvaging Cultural Properties Affected by the 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku and Related Disasters was created in the NICH’s Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.

The Committee worked to salvage not only valuable works of art and crafts but also numerous natural history specimens, official documents, books, and other artifacts reflecting the history and culture of the four prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, Ibaraki, and Fukushima.*

When the Committee was disbanded after two years of intensive work, a symposium was held in March 2013 to review its achievements.

The symposium concluded with the recommendation that the framework for the Committee’s operations be retained so as to be prepared for future disasters, large and small.

Following deliberations by the ACA and NICH, the National Task Force for the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network (CH-DRM Net) was launched in July 2014 with funding from the ACA’s Grants-in-Aid for Promotion of Culture and Arts (Project to Support Art Museums and History Museums in Priority Areas).

* Rescue Programs for Cultural Properties Damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake (Cultural Property Rescue Programs) by ACA: These are ACA’s emergency programs to preserve cultural properties damaged or threatened in a natural disaster and protect them from being discarded, scattered or stolen. The programs are undertaken as needed depending on the extent and character of the disaster. The first of these rescue operations was undertaken at the time of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995. The cultural properties rescue operation following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 lasted for two years. A more recent rescue operation was undertaken after the Kumamoto earthquakes of 2016.