Photo/IllutrationPillars for the netting of a golf driving range that fell onto homes in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, due to Typhoon No. 15 remain unremoved on Oct. 9, a month after the typhoon swept through the prefecture. (The Asahi Shimbun)

Another powerful typhoon, which could be the strongest to hit the nation this year, is making its way toward the Japanese archipelago.

As it stands now, Typhoon No. 19 is more ferocious than Typhoon No. 15, which wreaked havoc with many parts of Chiba Prefecture and its vicinity.

The super typhoon is expected to come closest to Japan, possibly making landfall, during the three consecutive holidays starting on Oct. 12.

Event organizers need to take necessary steps without delays, such as making early decisions on canceling or postponing events, for best possible preparations to limit damage to a minimum.

It is still only one month after Typhoon No. 15 struck the nation with devastating force. Global warming, among other factors, is pushing up the temperature of the sea, increasing the risk of the country being hit by typhoons of unprecedented strength.

One month ago, railway operators decided early to cancel services but they failed to resume operations as planned, creating great confusion.

Failures to estimate the scope of damage that could be caused by fallen trees, provide accurate information swiftly and restore power quickly have caused damaging effects on people’s daily lives.

Lessons from the experiences should be used by not only local governments but also companies and facilities that are involved in providing essential infrastructure and social services to ensure collection and provision of accurate information, as well as proper deployment of manpower.

Local residents, for their part, should make their own efforts to remain updated on the changing weather conditions. They should, if necessary, take refuge at the houses of their relatives and friends or at local evacuation centers before it is too late.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly said that the government made “swift and appropriate” responses to Typhoon No. 15. But there is no denying that the administration’s efforts to grasp the situations in affected areas and provide necessary support to local governments left much to be desired.

To mitigate damage as much as possible, it is vital for the government to assess its past performances sincerely and glean necessary lessons from them.

It is still unclear when many victims of Typhoon No. 15 can have their lives returned to normal. Key factors behind the struggle of affected areas to recover from damage are the aging workforces in the agricultural, fisheries and forestry industries and a shortage of new young workers in these sectors and an acute shortage of construction workers.

More than 40,000 houses were damaged by the storm in Chiba, Kanagawa and other prefectures. The government has decided to provide state subsidies for the repair of partially damaged houses, which account for 90 percent of all affected housing units.

But a shortage of tilers is causing delays in repair work. Some households will have to wait several months before work to fix their damaged roofs can start.

The typhoon delivered a heavy blow to agriculture as well. But more than half of the estimated total damage of 41.1 billion yen ($382.12 million) that farmers in Chiba Prefecture have suffered was due to damage to facilities, such as the collapse of vinyl plastic hothouses. A shortage of workers to remove the destroyed hothouses is causing delays in recovery.

The dismal picture of damage and delayed recovery and reconstruction is reminiscent of the aftermath of torrential rain in western Japan and a powerful earthquake in Hokkaido last year.

A dearth of workers who demolish or repair damaged houses and build new ones has been hurting the efforts of local communities to recover from the damage.

The disasters have brought to the fore the nation’s eroding ability to respond to such emergencies due mainly to a labor shortage in the construction sector.

A rapid succession of major disasters inevitably worsen the labor crunch, slow the pace of reconstruction and exhaust local communities.

This is a structural problem confronting Japan, a nation of an aging population with low birthrates, which is prone to natural disasters.

There is no quick cure for the problem. But it is clearly important for the public and private sectors to work together to share information about damage and build a more effective system to secure and deploy necessary manpower.

The government should review its disaster response policy and system to make them better suited for the changing times.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 10