3.11 Japan Meteorological Agency staff-Sakura seen from the hospital room-March 26, 14:54

One month after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

He was lying on the bed in the hospital room.

The cherry blossoms in full bloom were visible outside the window.

"I still have something to do ..." "Silent and lone wolf" There was a Meteorological Agency employee who said so to a colleague.

What did he "tell" and "not tell" on March 11th?

(Yuki Wakabayashi, Reporter, Japan Meteorological Agency, Ministry of Social Affairs)

As high as possible ...

"Evacuate to a high place ... as high as possible!

』March 11, 2011 4:00 pm.

The first Japan Meteorological Agency press conference after the occurrence of a huge earthquake.

The explanation was given by Hirofumi Yokoyama, who was the chief of the earthquake and tsunami monitoring section at that time.

He was in charge of observing domestic and foreign earthquakes and tsunamis 24 hours a day and calling for caution.

The explanation continued, albeit with some breaks.

"I'm a small person ..." As he says, I wasn't good at speaking in public.

Still, he called for caution with all his might.

March 11th 14: 46- Earthquake occurred

The morning of March 11th before the earthquake.

Mr. Yokoyama attended a study session on tsunami prediction technology, which he specializes in.

After that, I had lunch and checked my email at my seat on the 7th floor.

At that time, observation equipment caught the waves of the earthquake that occurred off the coast of Tohoku.

An earthquake early warning alarm sounds from the terminal in the room.

Along with that, an estimate of magnitude is shown.

"Eh ... 7.2!



A subordinate employee shouted.

After that, the magnitude value increases.

The Japan Meteorological Agency was also hit by violent shaking, and Mr. Yokoyama desperately held down his personal computer.

“Outrageous things are happening,” said Yokoyama, who instinctively thought that it was a fairly large-scale earthquake because of the length of the quake.

To prepare for a busy working room press conference

Running down the stairs from the office on the 7th floor to the "working room" on the 2nd floor, while suppressing the impatience that "a big tsunami must come".

It is the central base of the Japan Meteorological Agency, which observes earthquakes and tsunamis and issues warnings.

"A major earthquake has started" "Measured seismic intensity 7" "Sends a seismic intensity bulletin" Alert voice that constantly rings in the working room.

"Is the epicenter decided yet?

"What is the status of M (magnitude)?"

』\ The loud voices of the staff fly around.

Approximately 3 minutes after the earthquake, the magnitude was 7.9.

"Large tsunami warning" was announced.

The expected tsunami height was 6 meters in Miyagi prefecture and 3 meters in Iwate and Fukushima prefectures.

However, a tsunami of 3 meters or more is observed at a wave meter off the coast of Iwate Prefecture.

When it reaches the coast, it far exceeds the initial expectations ...

"Let's raise the tsunami height" Mr. Yokoyama instructed an upward revision.

Approximately 30 minutes after the earthquake, the expected tsunami heights in each region were revised to 10 meters or more in Miyagi prefecture and 6 meters or more in Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, which greatly exceeded the initial expectations.

As a result of the rupture of the fault that caused the magnitude 9 earthquake over three minutes, the tsunami height forecast of the system at that time, which was calculated in about three minutes, was disappointing.

The limits of the forecast revealed.

Immediately I started preparing for a press conference where I could directly call for caution.

Meanwhile, the arrival of the tsunami has begun.

Kamaishi 4.2m, Miyako 4m, Ofunato 3.3m ...

Thirty minutes after the earthquake occurred, large tsunamis were observed one after another by the tide gauge of the Japan Meteorological Agency.

"I have to give information to the disaster area as soon as possible ..." At that time, the Japan Meteorological Agency's press conference after the earthquake was within two hours after the earthquake.

However, Mr. Yokoyama decided to hold a press conference in about half an hour.

Hurry to create materials that call for caution.

"Let's get information about the tsunami in front" "If you don't hurry, you won't have time!

』\ Rework an easy-to-understand and easy-to-hear message with the staff.

The materials were completed 5 minutes before the press conference.

“A very high tsunami has been observed, and the tsunami will hit repeatedly.” Mr. Yokoyama ran to the press conference room, muttering cautions in his mind many times.

March 11th 16: 00- Press conference starts

Take a seat in the press conference room.

In front of me, countless cameras and reporters.

More than double the normal line of sight is focused on me.

"I'm a small person ..."

However, he cannot escape in a responsible position.

“There are people in the disaster area on the other side. If you don't



I stared at the camera from the front.

I told the people in the disaster area what to watch out for.

A voice that rises quickly from the desire to convey.

Still, I kept telling myself crazy.

"A very high tsunami has been observed, and the tsunami will hit repeatedly.

Evacuate as high as possible.

Where the warning is issued, there is a risk that the tsunami will arrive even if the tsunami is not currently coming.

Never return the evacuated person.

Since this earthquake has a very large magnitude of 8 or more, it is thought that the tsunami will continue for a long time.

The tsunami is expected to continue for at least half a day to a day.

Never return to those who have evacuated. "

Two and a half minutes from the start of the press conference.

I barely looked at the material while calling for caution.

Cancellation of tsunami warning ... Sudden "misinformation"

Press conference that continues after that.

It's not just about calling for tsunami alerts.

A series of large earthquakes off the coast of Tohoku.

Sakae Village, Nagano Prefecture, on March 12, with a seismic intensity of over 6.

We will hold a press conference in response to large earthquakes that occur in various places day and night.

Mr. Yokoyama responded to 14 press conferences in the two days after the earthquake.

The 14th was a press conference announcing the cancellation of all "tsunami warnings".

"Is the tsunami warning call a break for the time being ..." However, as soon as I thought so, Mr. Yokoyama received unexpected information.

It was past 11:00 am on March 14th.

"Information about a" tsunami "is flying along the coast of Tohoku." There was information that local fire departments and others had confirmed the tsunami along the coast of Tohoku from Aomori to Fukushima Prefecture.

Certainly, many of the tide gauges in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures have been destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

However, no earthquake has been observed that causes a tsunami in such a wide range.

In Aomori Prefecture, where tide gauges can be used in the first place, there is no change in sea level due to the tsunami.

In the "Why !?" news, media companies including NHK also reported.

Some local governments have called on residents to evacuate.

Some residents rush to escape in fear.

“Information that makes exhausted victims even more anxious must be canceled immediately”

After scrutinizing the observation data, Mr. Yokoyama held an urgent press conference just 20 minutes after the information was obtained.

Many reporters paid attention to the unexpected emergency interview.

At the press conference, Mr. Yokoyama's mouth was an unusual word for the Japan Meteorological Agency.

"No changes in sea level that are thought to be tsunamis have been observed in the Tohoku region.

Please confirm the source of the information properly, and if the information is incorrect, cancel the evacuation advisory. "

At his own discretion, he even mentioned the evacuation information of the local government.

It was unprecedented to step up to the cancellation of evacuation advisories issued by local governments.

After that, Mr. Yokoyama talked about his feelings at the press conference.

Mr. Yokoyama:

"Observation," which is the basic work of the Japan Meteorological Agency, was no longer possible in various parts of Tohoku, so I thought that this kind of misinformation flowed.

I was frustrated when I thought of the people who were swayed by uncertain information. "

And one month after the earthquake ...

Yokoyama's hard work continued after that.

Prediction error of earthquake scale, underestimation of tsunami height, accuracy of Earthquake Early Warning, durability of observation equipment, how to call.

There were a lot of things that had to be improved from the reflection at that time.

Under these circumstances, large earthquakes off the coast of Tohoku and other parts of the country are occurring one after another.

"I don't know when a big earthquake will come."

And the morning of April 7th.

I was on my way to the Japan Meteorological Agency ...

Severe pain in the abdomen.

When I went to the hospital, I was immediately asked to be hospitalized.

I lay down on the bed in the hospital room.

Looking out the window, there are cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Beautifully blooming cherry blossoms, as if you didn't know about the tsunami-stricken area.

My friends continue to work today.

“There are still many things to do ... There are still many things to do ...” On

the night of hospitalization, there was an aftershock observing a seismic intensity of over 6 in Miyagi prefecture.

A tsunami warning was also announced.

My chest was full with a tingling sensation.

The abdominal pain was inflammation of the intestines, which was thought to be due to stress and overwork.

After that, Mr. Yokoyama was discharged from the hospital.

He has served as the director of the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory, the director of the Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory, and the director of the Meteorological University.

Retired in 2018.

Based on the reflection at that time, he was also involved in improving the system and expression.

In order to understand that the height of the tsunami may increase after a huge earthquake that exceeds magnitude 8 as it was at that time, it is not the number of height but "huge" and "high". "And so on.

What was "not told" in 3.11.

Yokoyama is now 63 years old.

During the interview, I asked again.

-"What would you tell us at the press conference if the same earthquake occurred again?"

Yokoyama muttered after looking up at the ceiling for a few seconds.

Mr. Yokoyama:

"I think it's the same as that time.

Anyway, convey the necessary information to the people in the disaster area.

I think it will convey the evacuation call and the current situation of the earthquake and tsunami in an easy-to-understand manner. "

Mr. Yokoyama also told me that he was "not told" when the big earthquake struck.

Mr. Yokoyama:

"It's a contradiction to be the presenter of the tsunami warning, but please don't wait for the warning.

If you feel shaking in the coastal area, evacuate immediately.

I think that is the lesson of the earthquake. ”

Still "keep moving"

During this interview, when I asked about the situation at that time, Mr. Yokoyama looked back to squeeze out.

The big tsunami warning that I announced as the person in charge.

A disaster area exposed to the threat of nature.

Every day of verification and response that followed.

The more I looked back, the more I tended to look down.

Still, looking into my eyes, there were words that I uttered strongly.

Hirofumi Yokoyama

"If you think about the people in the disaster area, you have no choice but to keep moving."

As a staff member of the Meteorological Business Support Center, Mr. Yokoyama is currently in charge of managing the system that distributes disaster prevention information such as earthquakes and tsunamis to each organization in addition to the data observed by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Ten years later, looking back on that day, what can I do?

We will convey information to people who are in a difficult position after the disaster.

As a person who conveys information, I also strongly kept in mind Mr. Yokoyama's words.

Reporter of the Social Affairs Department

Yuki Wakabayashi

Joined the station in 2012

After working in charge of the

Kagoshima Bureau

Metropolitan Police Department, in charge of the Japan Meteorological Agency from 2020