Message from the Director

Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI)
Kyoto University
Prof. Tomoharu Hori

With spring it brings new beginnings. Once every biennium, the directorship of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI), Kyoto University will change hands with a new director to move it forward to new heights in disaster risk reduction and resilience to disaster research.

My name is Tomoharu Hori and I am entrusted to lead the Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI), Kyoto University as its director from 1 April 2024. My first encounter with the DPRI was in 1983 when, as a student, I was assigned to the Water Resources Research Center, Faculty of Engineering, Kyoto University under the guidance of Prof. Shuichi Ikebuchi. Upon completing postgraduate studies., I continued to work at the Department of Civil Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, and the School of Global Environmental Studies. Since April 2007, I have been in charge of the Global Water Dynamics Research Area at the Water Resources Research Center. I am honored to be elected as the Director of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI), Kyoto University. I will strive to do my best to move the institute in its mission.

In the coming two years, I will be supported by four Deputy Directors. Namely:
– Future Planning – Prof. Takeshi Enomoto
– Research and Education – Prof. Yuki Sakai
– Public Relations and International Affairs – Prof. Katsuya Yamori; and
– Integrity and Evaluation – Prof. Takuya Nishimura

I count on you to support me in my endeavors to move forward DPRI as a research centre of excellence.

For more than 70 years since its establishment, the Disaster Prevention Research Institute has been engaged and contributed in the pursuit of disaster theory and comprehensive research and education related to the construction of disaster prevention science. Natural phenomena (hazards) that bring disasters to us include, and not limited to, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and slope failures, debris flows, floods/droughts, and strong winds. A key feature of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute is that we have researchers in place working to elucidate the mechanisms of various hazards.

The Institute is also unique in terms of bringing together researchers who are investigating the processes and prevention methods not only in the fields of science and engineering, but also in informatics, the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. The Disaster Prevention Research Institute is a place of comprehensive and passionate activities to deeply understand various types of natural phenomena, to analyze the processes that lead to disasters from multiple perspectives, and to create knowledge for disaster prevention.

However, and unfortunately, natural disasters claim many lives and property every year. Disaster research is advancing day by day, and there is no doubt that it is helping to prevent and mitigate damage. At the same time, nature and society continue to change, and we are seeing more and more situations where hazards damage areas that have become vulnerable in the course of social development. For example, the Noto Peninsula Earthquake of 2024, in particular it made it difficult to restore the destroyed water supply facilities. Water resources engineering is my field of specialization. In many areas the water supply was cut off. The wide-area and large-scale development of water supply systems, which transport and supply clean water over large distances, has helped to improve supply capacity and efficiency. At the same time, it has also resulted in the weakness that the entire system cannot function unless many of the damaged areas are repaired. Thus, social changes that at a first glance appear to be progressive, may in fact, encompass the risk of disaster.

We have to realize that we live in conditions that are not completely safe but are not in immediate danger. The term ‘unforeseen disaster’ “未災” is used to describe this state of affairs, and the idea was born within the Disaster Prevention Research Institute that we must create a society where people realize that they are in a state of unforeseen disaster, and work on disaster prevention and disaster reduction and incorporate it to their daily activities. Furthermore, due to changes in the mechanism of hazard generation, such as global warming, we may encounter hazards that we have never experienced before, which can be considered a disaster. In April 2023, the Research Center for Landslide Disaster Risk Cognition and Reduction was established to especially work in the area of unforeseen disasters.

The departments and centers of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute, which have continued research on the theme of disaster prevention and mitigation, will engage in more multi-layered and comprehensive research and education with a new cross-disciplinary field of disaster prevention studies.

As I embark on this journey as the Director of DRPI, I count on your continued support and cooperation.

    April 2024

>> April 2021:Message from the Director Eiichi Nakakita『A Message from the Director』
April 2019:Message from the Director Manabu Hashimoto『A Message from the Director』
April 2017:Message from the Director Hajime Nakagawa『A Message from the Director』
April 2015:Message from the Director Kaoru Takara『Greetings at the beginning of the new academic year 2015』