Research on Social Capital of Migrant Collectives and the Disaster Recovery of Communities

 

ROBLES, Lisette

2nd Year, Doctoral Student

Ichinose Research Laboratory

Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University

Text Box: (1) Introduction
During disaster situations, especially in large scale ones, many people are affected. In such conditions, migrants are accounted as among those in vulnerable position. Their conditions as migrants gives them a relative disadvantage at times of disasters such as language, rights, social protection, economics, and support. In recent years, a new view about migrants during disasters has been raised. The 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai (March 2015) emphasized that migrants are significant stakeholders in disaster risk reduction. Among the capacities during disasters is social capital. With social capital, it assumes that the network of connections people have before, during and after a disaster matters in their response and the recovery of their community. This study assesses and analyzes how social capital of migrants (foreign residents) relates to the disaster response and recovery of affected communities. This study focuses on the case of foreign residents and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. 

(2). Research Question and Methods
The study’s main question is: How does the social capital of migrant collectives relate to the disaster recovery of communities? The more specific questions are: 1) Is there a correlation between migrants’ social capital and the disaster recovery of communities; and 2) What are the role of migrant collectives (foreign residents) social capital in the development of disaster response and recovery of their communities.

The study uses the combination of two research methods. Forms of social capital such as bonding, bridging and linking are examined using both qualitative (oral narratives) and quantitative (social survey) research methods. An initial study on social capital of affected residents during Typhoon Haiyan (2013) combined with a case study on Filipinos in Kesennuma City during March 11. 2011 will be used to develop a migrant-specific survey on social capital and disaster. From the gathered data in stages 1 and 2, a migrant-specific survey on Social Capital and Disasters will be developed and distributed. Approximately 100-150 foreign residents in Sendai City will be contact and ask to answer an online survey. This modified survey will be used to identify the degree of connection of migrants and verify its relation to the recovery of their community.

 

 

 

 

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Text Box: (3) Partial Research Output
For the year 2015, the researcher focused on gathering data for the Second and Third Stages of the study. For both stages, the key data acquired were in the form of interviews. 

(3)-1 Filipino Community in Kesennuma City
In this part of the study, narratives of the Filipino migrants in Kesennuma City provided understandings on the disaster response and sense of vulnerability from the migrant collective. Three visits with face-to-face interviews were made in Kesennuma, together with continuous exchange of messages in social media. Firsthand accounts draw an examination on the actual involvements during Japan 3.11, looking at relationship dynamics, decision-making reasoning and the reflections on their actual stay in Japan.

The key respondents were from the Bayanihan Kesennuma Filipino Community. They are a group of Filipino in Kesennuma founded 18 years ago. In addition to them, the Coordinator from the Community Designing Division of Kesennuma City was also interviewed. This provided an alternative perspective to look at the migrants’ story during disasters.

Below are the summaries of data based on the interviews conducted:

 

 

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Text Box: (3)-2 Disaster Prevention Training in Sendai
On November 1,2015 the town of Katahira in Sendai initiated a town-wide disaster prevention training. For purposed of inclusivity, foreign residents were invited to join the “Bosai” training. To further facilitate interaction and cultural exchanges, the disaster prevention training was followed meals; serving local foods and Malaysian dish prepared by the foreign students from Malaysia.

Among the key collaborators in this event for this event are the Sendai Tourism, Convention and International Affairs (SenTIA). This is a division in the local government of Sendai that provides support to the foreign residents in the area. This includes programs for language support, living adjustments, and things related to the community. Local activities woulf include festivals and events. 

The 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai last March 2015 provided a modified meaning to SUPPORT. In relation to the assistance and support given to foreign residents, the post Japan 3.11 disaster conference capitalized on the idea of INVOLVEMENT. Foreign residents are encouraged to engage and participate in the community even prior to the disaster. The pre-disaster connection strengthens these relations among the members of the community.

Below are photos from the Disaster Prevention Training last November 1, 2015:

 

 

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Text Box: (4) Integration
These two fieldworks in Kesennuma and in Sendai presented perspectives on how the March 11, 2011 disaster activated social engagements among the residents. More specifically, for foreign residents, the disaster demonstrated opportunities for them to identify their options for engagements (social connections) in instances of disaster. More so, it showed available social actors to respond to the disaster and aid their recovery.

These parts of the study advanced the understanding that the changes of the present times permit the shift from vulnerable population to active stakeholder in instances of disasters. 

(5) Further Studies
This point is significant to prosper the full study of the research. From this point forward supplementary analysis on migrant social capital in disaster will be explored using other research approaches.

 (6) Acknowledgement
The researcher expresses her sincerest gratitude to the following:
•	Taikichiro Mori Memorial Research Fund for Academic Year 2015
•	Bayanihan Kesennuma Filipino Community (Especially to Ms. Rachel Takahashi, Ms. Jeanne Oikawa, Ms. Marivel Gunshi and Ms. Christy Konno)
•	Ms. Nobuko Murakami of The Community Design Division, Kesennuma City Hall
•	Mr. Masahiro Hirono of the International Relations Department, Sendai Tourism, Convention and International Association

Related Links:
Radio “Mutual Assistance” 
Filipino Community Energizing Disaster Affected City Kesennuma in Japan