Illusions of Safety: Culture and Earthquake Hazard Response in California and Japan

Synopsis

Illusions of Safety surveys the cultural influences on responses to earthquake risk in both the United States and Japan. The attitudes of Japanese and Californian respondents are compared and analyzed for their shaping of individual responses to earthquakes. Survey responses and the authors' firsthand experience of the reactions to the Kobe, Japan, earthquake in 1995 and the Northridge, California, earthquake are presented and show that the Japanese generally prefer a communal approach to earthquake response whereas Americans (more specifically Californians) place more emphasis on household self-sufficiency. The authors examine how these reactions influence public policy for earthquake preparedness and response in each country.