To help you understand the point of this post, I’ve recorded a little video of the view from my bedroom window. You’ll need to watch the video before I delve into the topic of “disaster prevention information” in Japan.
My peaceful neighborhood in Japan
If you can’t view the video, you can watch it here on YouTube.
What was that and why should I care?
What you just saw was, in my opinion, an abuse of the Disaster Prevention Radio system set up by the Japan government’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA).
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications describes the radio system as such:
The disaster radio systems built by the national and local governments are based on the experience gained in past disasters. The purpose of the radio systems is to secure a means to collect and transmit disaster information in the times of emergency.
That is echoed by Tokyo’s Toshima City officials who state on their website…
With the goal of relaying accurate information related to disasters in a speedy manner, there are public announcement radio systems (loudspeakers) set in elementary and junior high schools and public parks.
Indeed, the disaster prevention communication network is quite extravagant:
An abuse of the system?
I’m fine with having such a network of loudspeakers dotted across the landscape if they are used for their intended purpose, that is to relay disaster information. However, as you saw in the video, playing a daily song so children know when to go home is a bit much for me, particularly when it frightens the life out of Rikuto, triggering another session of tears.
Still, Mami thinks I’m overreacting and she’s probably right. After all, this is a country that likes to be told what to do, and I don’t see anyone else complaining.
A little more imagination
If we must sit through a minute of music every afternoon, why not spruce things up a bit? Let’s have a different song every day, and throw in some vocals so we can sing along! Why not let the locals call a DJ at City Hall and make requests? Do you think they’d play Chorus Water? Perhaps local government could lower taxes, replacing the lost revenue with company sponsorship: “Today’s 5 o’clock jingle is brought to you by Morinaga Milk”.
Do these announcements annoy you, too? How else could this elaborate network of loudspeakers be used?If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!