Disaster Management and Resiliency in the Asia Pacific Journalism Fellowship


The Disaster Management and Resiliency in the Asia Pacific Journalism Fellowships program is co-sponsored by the Center for Global Partnership, All-China Journalists Association and the Japan Foreign Press Center/Tokyo. This 14-day professional dialogue, study and travel program is designed for working print, broadcast and online journalists from the United States, Japan, China and those Asian and Oceanic countries bordering the tectonic Pacific Plate. It will introduce participating journalists to a broad range of disaster management activities in the United States, Japan and China as well as post-disaster challenges to political, economic and energy resiliency. Emphasis will be placed on:

  • disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery efforts at the local, federal and international levels;
  • government, military, business and civil-society initiatives successful in reducing risk and in providing assistance post-disaster; 
  • resilience as the capacity to recover from disasters and the maintenance of political structures, economic markets, energy policies and the functionality of society in the wake of a catastrophe;
  • the impact of recent catastrophic natural disasters on economic markets and supply chains throughout the Asia Pacific region;
  • responses to the Fukushima nuclear crisis and the future of energy policy and security in the Asia Pacific region.

Kindly note that the East-West Center will not be offering the Disaster Management and Resiliency Journalism Fellowships in 2014.


The 2013 Disaster Management and Resiliency Journalism Fellowship program took place Sunday, September 29 – Sunday, October 13, 2013 and included twelve journalists from Australia, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the United States. The journalists visited New York City, New York; Tokyo, Japan; Sendai, Japan; and Chengdu, China. In New York City, the journalists examined lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy, which struck the eastern seaboard on October 29, 2012 and registered as a Category 2 storm at its peak intensity. In Japan, the journalists visited the capital city for an assessment of how the Japanese government and disaster response agencies handled the Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting tsunami and nuclear crisis as well as what lessons were learned. In Sendai, the EWC, in partnership with Peace Winds Japan, exposed the journalists to the personal side of natural disasters through discussions with aid workers, shopkeepers, local fishermen and other community members. Finally, the journalists visited Chengdu to examine China’s recovery efforts following the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake. In all three countries, the role and responsibility of the media to accurately report on disasters was explored.

Dates:  Sunday, September 29, 2013 – October 13, 2013

Study Tour Destinations:  New York City, USA; Tokyo, Japan; Sendai, Japan; and Chengdu, China 

Funding:  East-West Center and the Center for Global Partnership

The program covers all air transportation, lodging, and program-related ground transportation and meals for participating journalists from the funded countries listed above. Other qualified, interested journalists from countries outside the tectonic Pacific Plate area are expected to cover Fellowships costs at a discounted rate of USD $6,575/per participant to be paid prior to the beginning of the program.

Highlights of the 2013 DisMan Fellowship in New York included a session with Mr. Seth Pinsky of the NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, founded in the wake of Hurricane Sandy by then Mayor Bloomberg. Mr. Pinsky provided an overview of lessons learned regarding staffing, communications and deployment of resources as well as New York City’s efforts to rebuild impacted communities and increase the resilience of infrastructure and buildings citywide. A meeting with Dr. Jason P. Tuell, director of the National Weather Service Eastern Region, provided the journalists with an opportunity to examine the National Weather Service’s role in disaster awareness as well as the challenges of forecasting storm intensity and communicating the likelihood of destructive impact to the general public. The group also benefited from a meeting with Mr. Thaddeus Pawlowski of New York’s Department of City Planning New York and the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery, who described New York’s flood vulnerabilities, flood resistant construction and recommendations for building resilient coastal communities.

In Tokyo, the journalists met with various government officials, academics, business executives and community aid workers for an assessment of how the Japanese government and disaster-response agencies handled the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. A highlight of the Tokyo program was a meeting with Toshihiko Hashida, director-general of the Japan’s Meteorological Agency’s (JMA) Seismological and Volcanological Department, who explained JMA’s role as the sole national authority responsible for issuing weather warning and advisories as well as its move toward qualitative rather than quantitative warnings as a result of the 3/11 disaster. The journalists also benefited from a tour of JMA’s command center. In addition, the journalists en

joyed speaking with colleagues at NHK Japan Broadcasting regarding the media’s role in communicating information to the public in a timely and effective manner during natural disasters. Attendance at a ‘Design + Art’ exhibition event organized by the non-profit organization, Plus Arts, also provided the journalists with a unique opportunity to explore Japan’s efforts to foster disaster awareness among its youth. Finally, the journalists examined nuclear power and energy policy in Japan from a variety of perspectives including a visit with the Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center, an anti-nuclear public interest organization dedicated to a safe, nuclear-free world.

In China, the journalists visited Chengdu to examine China’s recovery efforts following the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake. While several of the journalists found the Chinese speakers to be repetitive and less than forthcoming, several noted that the Chengdu program was helpful in understanding the “sheer ambition, speed and scale of China’s development plans.” In addition, the journalists appreciated the chance to meet with Mr. Wang Tun, director of the Chengdu Institute of Care-Life (ICL), which has built the largest earthquake monitoring and early warning system in the world. Mr. Tun provided a brief overview of ICL’s work, the new early earthquake warning system and how it performed during the 2013 Lushan Earthquake as well as a brief tour of the ICL facility.  

In addition to formal sessions, the 2013 DisMan Fellowship included field study visits to previous disaster sites in each of the three countries visited, including: the Rockaways and Breezy Point in New York; Sendai and Minamisanriku in Japan; and Yingxui and Shuimo townships in China. During each of these field study visits, the journalists were exposed to the personal side of natural disasters through discussions with students, aid workers, local journalists, small business owners, fishermen, and other affected residents. In particular, the journalists spent a full day touring the devastated town of Minamisanriku, meeting with Mayor Jin Sato, who famously clung to the radio antennae of a local government building during the tsunami and local hotel owner, Ms. Noriko Abe, who voluntarily housed refugees in the days following the tsunami. The journalists also deeply appreciated the East-West Center’s partnership with Peace Winds Japan in arranging a session with the Shizugawa Fisheries Association and a boat tour to a local fisherman’s mussel pots a mile offshore of Minamisanriku.

The 2013 Disaster Managment and Resiliency Journalism Fellows:

  • Mr. Bruce ATKINSON, Journalist, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Queensland, Australia
  • Ms. Ellalyn DE VERA, Reporter, Manila Bulletin, Manila, Philippines
  • Mr. Xin HE, Journalist, Caixin Media Company Limited, Beijing, China      
  • Ms. Mana ISHIDA, Staff Writer, Foreign News Desk, Jiji Press, Tokyo, Japan
  • Ms. Anisah ISSIMEL, Broadcast Journalist, National Broadcasting Corporation, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  • Mr. Morgan LEE, Energy Reporter, U-T San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
  • Ms. Zulfiani LUBIS, Chief Editor, News and Current Affairs, ANTV, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Mr. Jamie MORTON, Science/Environment Reporter, The New Zealand Herald, Tauranga, New Zealand               
  • Ms. Jennifer POYANT, Senior Producer, WNYC Radio, New York City, New York, USA
  • Ms. Margaret WISE, West Bureau Chief, The Fiji Times Limited, Lautoka, Fiji Islands
  • Mr. Benjian XIN, Editor, In-depth News Division, People’s Daily Online, Beijing, China
  • Ms. Deborah ZABARENKO, Environment Correspondent, Thomson Reuters, Washington, DC, USA


Liz A. Dorn
Program Coordinator, Seminars
East-West Center
1601 East West Road
Honolulu, Hawaii 96848
(tel) 808-944-7368