In October 2012, IMF/World Bank held their general assembly in Japan and, during the session, publicized a report on the “Learning from Megadisasters”. In this publication it hailed the role of FM radio broadcasting as quoted below.
“Emergency FM radio also played a crucial role in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake. When the emergency communication systems in many cities broke down,…community radio stations were able to get useful information out to residents….In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, these community radio stations began to provide information about the times and locations for the distribution of emergency food, water and goods In the following months they gradually shifted to providing other information to help victims in their daily lives to raise the spirits of people in local communities.” (The Great East Japan Earthquake-Learning from Megadisasters. Knowledge Note-Executive Summary)
Further development of FM Boadcasting Project in Tohoku
In the city of Minami-Souma, to improve the hearing difficulty of the radio wave, relocation work of the broadcasting antenna was completed in September 2012. Along with this relocation of the antenna , the change of radio wave frequency was also enforced. Now the radio wave is well received in all the area of the city including the area of Temporal Houses for refugees.
The city of Minami-Souma, Fukushima Pref., suffered both from the gigantic Tsunami and entailed nuclear reactor accident. Many citizens were forced to move out of their places and live in the temporal houses. However, many of those temporal houses are located behind the mountains and have difficulty to obtain community related news and information from the FM radio station operated by the city.
BHN has been assisting to improve such hearing difficulty of the radio broadcasting,however, this improvement work still encountered many technical difficulties,such as; limited radio wave band width, destroyed access road, remaining radioactive influences, etc. BHN plans to complete the construction works by early September.
In July, thecity of Minami-Souma restarted its 1,000 years long history of Armored Cavalry Horse Race festival (suspended in 2011) to encourage people, including themselves, still in their difficult days for recovery.
On May 25, the Ministry of Internal Affairs & Communications of Japan (MIC) publicly recognized the services rendered by BHN Association to launch, maintain and operate temporary disaster radio broadcasting stations in Tohoku area which was devastated by the gigantic Tsunami in March last year. The Ministry says that these radio stations contributed the best among many services under their auspices to support the victims. BHN has so far assisted as many as 21 temporary disaster broadcasting stations and other radio program making NGOs in Tohoku area. Many of the temporary disaster broadcasting stations are still in need of technical & financial supports. As BHN received a new grant from GlobalGiving, we are now starting detailed discussions with the radio operators and local governments how to assist those stations.(June 1, 2012)
“Temporary disaster broadcasting station” is a station defined in the Broadcast Law in Japan as an FM broadcasting station granted to local governments to be set up when a large disaster occurred, so as to broadcast information dedicated to the region including emergency alerts, information necessary for everyday lives and progress in restoration works. In some cases, licenses for temporary disaster broadcasting stations are given through flexible procedures and many stations have already been set up since the Great East Japan Earthquake. So far, 19 stations are in operation under the license granted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) in three badly affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima in Tohoku District.However, the number of people having problems with listening to the temporary stations is increasing because of the fact that people are now moving out of shelters and/or moving into provisional housing where radio reception is poor. In such cases, it is necessary to take measures to improve radio reception. In addition, in areas where restoration works have progressed to some extent, local governments are now requesting to set up temporary disaster broadcasting stations. In order to respond to these needs, we at BHN have been carrying out support projects with the funding provided by Global Giving Foundation based in the U.S, the donation from charity concerts by Tokiko Kato who is a well-known popular singer and also one of the directors of our Association, subsidy from Japan Platform and donations from people supporting us. Progress in our support activities is presented below.
1) Projects for eliminating areas with poor reception
(1) Minamisanrikucho town in Miyagi Prefecture: We had a request from an operating broadcaster to extend technical support for relocating transmitting antenna facilities to the top of a hill to eliminate fringe areas. Our project team made a baseline specification for the relocation and assisted the coordination between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and other broadcasters. The relocation finished in August last year.
(2) Wataricho town in Miyagi Prefecture: A plan has been set up to solve the problem of poor radio reception for about 1000 families in the area by relocating the transmitting antenna facilities to the top of a hill so that they could more easily catch the radio signal. The relocation is scheduled to start after February when the access road to the top of the hill damaged by the heavy rains last autumn is repaired.(3) Poor reception at temporary housing in Wataricho town and Yamamotocho town in Miyagi Prefecture: Because the walls of temporary houses are made of steel, the residents cannot listen to the radio indoors. This project is to enable about 500 families in Wataricho and 1200 families in Yamamotocho listen to the radio by setting up a common antenna outside. The project for Wataricho finished last December while the work for Yamamotocho is scheduled to be completed this coming February.
(4) Minamisoma City in Fukushima Prefecture: We have received a request from a temporary broadcaster to extend technical support for resolving a fringe area. The result of the site-check and technical review done by our project team showed that relocating the transmitting antenna facilities to the top of a hill is the best solution. The team has been working on a baseline specification for the relocation and the coordination between the MIC and other broadcasters. The relocation works are scheduled to be finished in March when analog TV broadcasting ends in Tohoku District.
2) Setting up of new Temporary Disaster Broadcasters(1) Rikuzentakata City in Iwate Prefecture: Last September, the city office requested us to support opening of a new broadcast station for the affected people there. We donated equipment and materials necessary for the broadcasting station including not only transmitters, batteries and editing devices etc., but also an ST link (Studio-Transmitter Link) connecting the transmitting station and the antenna located on top of a hill. The station was inaugurated on December 10 last year with the presence of Mr. Tobata, the Mayor of this city.
(2) Ohtsuchicho Town in Iwate Prefecture: Last October, we had a request from the new town mayor of this town, where many officers of the city government including the former mayor were victimized by the Tsunami, to support opening a new temporary disaster broadcasting station there. We will make a baseline specification and donate equipment and materials for the broadcasting station such as the transmitter, batteries and editing devices etc. Now the town is recruiting broadcast operating staffs, and the detailed schedule will be prepared once the staffs are recruited thereby enabling the station to start operation as quickly as possible. In order to eliminate fringe areas, it is planned to borrow the antenna facilities of another broadcaster.
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