Older survivors of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake five years on : implications for a future model of an ageing society with Japanese values
This thesis, an exploratory study, grew out of a concern for an ageing society in the economic stagnation experienced in Japan. Taking Kobe as a case study, the thesis reports social science research on elderly people in urban areas who are poor and have no functioning family. It is a group that will be of increasing concern in the future in Japan and many other countries. My study population lost homes in the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe, Japan, and were repeatedly relocated to various types of housing schemes in the following years. By looking at the highly age biased community of Kasetsu (temporary shelter housing: TSH) created after the Kobe Earthquake and the following stage of Fukk? Jutaku (public reconstruction housing: PRH), this research follows the processes of reconstruction for older people after the earthquake with special reference to housing and community work. The research was based primarily upon media analysis, the Hyogo Health Survey, and ethnographic research at selected temporary shelter housings and public reconstruction housing compounds in central and suburban Kobe. I used a mixed method of qualitative and quantitative approaches. The media is an important part of my research in the Japanese context. By doing secondary analysis of the Hyogo survey data, this thesis describes the changes that the different surveys show. By sampling the media, I show the main foci of public attention, how their views changed and how what they emphasised or presented changed. Older people, especially older people living alone, received considerable attention. I have also sampled three sites in terms of what was happening on the ground and conducted discourse analysis. This thesis shows how one set of myths about TSH was only partly true and how PRH are far from simple solutions to the problem of rehousing survivors. Case studies of the media's presentation of evidence of loneliness and Kodukushi (isolated deaths) have shown how these things are built up from very little into new facts and new aspects of culture. Gender perspectives were employed in all analyses. A gender focus was lacking in public surveys, yet gender was important in qualitative analysis in the media and field sites. The conclusions drawn from this evidence are that disasters are long drawn out events for vulnerable older people, especially those without money or families. Official statistics and the media make their own interpretations of what is going on, and the workers on the ground reproduce many of these views and some old prejudices of their own. Policy implications of this study's findings are considered. Methodology are examined and future research needs discussed.