Current Institutional Affiliation
Freelance Journalist

Award Information

Abe Fellowship for Journalists 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Freelance Journalist, Freelance
As heatwaves intensify, how is Japan coping?

All but one of the 18 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2001. And both Japan and the US faced deadly heatwaves in the summers of 2018 and 2019. It's grimly important to take stock of what is and isn't being done to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths, which are certain to rise as climate change intensifies. Japan is uniquely well-suited for an exploration of this topic. Elderly people are the ones most vulnerable to extreme heat, and Japanese society is aging particularly rapidly. As is so often said in the disaster risk reduction community, a disaster is a crisis but it's also an opportunity. In this case, the urgency of dealing with heatwaves is an opportunity to investigate support for aging with health and dignity, ensuring that no one is left behind. My proposal is relevant to the Health & Environment and Economy & Social Policy themes of the SSRC. The project also touches upon all four themes of the Abe Fellowship for Journalists. Disaster preparedness and recovery relate to threats to personal, societal, and international security. Climate change adaptation and inequality fall under growth and sustainable development. Aging, along with disability and inequality, increases susceptibility to heat-related illness. And aging is a pressing concern for Japan, as one of its major social, scientific, and cultural trends and transformations. Non-governmental disaster relief organizations and elderly support associations will be critical to keeping older people safe during heatwaves, affecting governance, empowerment, and participation.