ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA. The USACE and the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) held a series of technical exchange meetings and site visits in May of this year. This was the thirteenth exchange between the two organizations and this year’s hosts were USACE Headquarters, the Institute for Water Resources, and the Jacksonville District. The purpose was to “set forth particular conditions to facilitate the cooperation and coordination of the exchange of scientific and technological information concerning water resources management of mutual interest of the Parties, and to provide a framework for cooperation between Parties in these fields for civilian purposes.” (Implementation Agreement, 17 November 2015).
The theme of this year’s exchange was Disaster Management, and the fourteen member delegation from Japan met at USACE Headquarters on the first day. The group was welcomed by Mr. James Dalton, USACE Director of Civil Works. The full-day agenda included topics and speakers such as MLIT Principles on Investment for Water-related Disaster Rick Reduction (Mr. Ryoichi Suga), USACE Approach to Disaster Management (Mr. Ray Alexander), USACE Civil Works Planning and Budgeting Principles and Processes for Risk Reduction Water Resources Projects (Mr. Steve Kopecky), and the MLIT New Water Resources Policy in Japan - Risk-based Approach (Mr. Masahiro Yamaguchi). There were also briefings on recent U.S. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and their recovery efforts (COL David Hibner), as well as the Risk Based Approach used by USACE (Mr. Jeffery Strahan). The US participants were especially interested in Japan’s principle of “Build Back Better.” All of the presentations were well received and with the help of a translator many questions were addressed, making it a worthwhile technical exchange.
During the following days of the visit, the Japanese delegation split up into two groups with some members attending a site visit and meeting at IWR, and the others traveling to Jacksonville, FL for a site visit and meeting with the District staff. The meeting at IWR included discussions on Incorporating Sea Level Change in the USACE Civil Works program, Challenges in Climate Change Adaptation Concerning Flood Risk Management, and USACE Efforts and Challenges for the Flood Risk Community, among others. The group visiting the district heard speakers discuss Jacksonville District’s and Duval County’s Emergency Operations. They also took site visits to a number of venues around town, including the Baptist Medical Center and the flooded areas of downtown Jacksonville, San Marco, and Riverside.
This year’s technical exchange received positive feedback from all of the participants. Professor Katsumi Seki, former MLIT River Bureau Director General (SES), Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, remarked,
“Topics for the future discussion that James [Dalton] proposed are the same challenges that MLIT has to pursue. Those are common areas of interest and very good to collaborate together. This makes me feel different from the ones in the past – outstandingly good.”
Based on the discussions this year, the next technical exchange meeting between the two groups will incorporate subjects such as Capturing the ‘Total Project Benefits and Value’ of Water Resource Projects (i.e. beyond just the Cost Benefit Ratio to include indirect damages, social impacts, and preventative actions). Adapting to the effects of climate change also continues to be an area if continued interest. Other topics discussed for possible future inclusion include infrastructure designed based on Natural and Nature Based Features (green infrastructure), sedimentation in reservoirs, and budgeting processes.
Much appreciation goes to the USACE staff who organized the events, particularly Mr. David Lau, Chief, Civil Works Integration Division, Pacific Ocean Division. For more information, please visit the websites below.
For more information, visit
Japan MLIT website