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The Japan earthquake and the tent industry

Industry News | August 1, 2011 | By:

A report from IFAI Japan on continuing relief and recovery efforts.

As Japan continues to recover from the massive March earthquake that devastated the Tohoku region of Japan, IFAI member companies in tent related industries have been at the forefront of response efforts.

Taiyo Kogyo Corp., Tokyo, and TSP Taiyo Inc., Osaka, donated a 2,000-square-meter suspension structure alps tent with a capacity of up to 2,000 people. “We also donated 19 tents, with a total of more than 16,000 square meters in area, in seven evacuation districts in one month, counting only the major ones,” says Takanori Yamagiwa, director, principal engineer, research and development division of Taiyo Kogyo. “But it is true that we have had to face various difficulties in our support activities from the beginning. The devastated area was much larger than those of previous natural disasters. During the initial stages, the roads were not repaired and the gas supply was insufficient; due to the amount of debris there were no large areas on which a large structure could be built or where heavy machinery could be brought in. Frequent aftershocks and the tsunami warnings often forced installation work to stop, and people in the area had to be kept informed that the site was still in a very dangerous situation.

“We urgently manufactured six easy-installation tents in about two weeks, a total of 3,000 square meters, using the least amount of steel frame possible, and brought them to the site,” Yamagiwa continues. “Those large-scale tents are still used in the disaster areas in various applications, including the storage of support goods.”

The Japan Tent Sheet Manufacturers Association sent 200 tents (3.6 by 5.4 meters) collected from its members to various emergency sites. Takada Sobi K.K., Gifu, joined a volunteer project to install a tent to allow bathing in the area, modifying a rental tent and installing it in the evacuation site. Since snowfall was still a concern at that time, the tent was reinforced to withstand a snowload.

Many IFAI Japan members received orders for tents and shelters for emergency housing and storage. Jinichi Komiya, general manager of Chukoh Chemical Industries Ltd., Tokyo, reported in May, “We are now preparing to supply membrane materials, mainly for temporary shelters.”

At the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant, a silt protector from Taiyo Kogyo was installed to prevent contaminated water from diffusing into the ocean. Also, the company is fabricating a giant tent to be installed around the damaged reactor building to help prevent the release of radioactive substances into the atmosphere.

As the recovery continues, the specialty fabrics industry can offer many contributions. Nobuo Takeuchi, president of Yano Tent Co. Ltd., Osaka, notes the overall impact of the earthquake on the event tent industry in Japan: “Comparing the increased demand of refugee and storage tents and shelters for the earthquake, against the decreased demand due to the cancellation and downsizings of various events for the rental tent business, the former is a temporary matter—but the latter will last a long time,” he says.

Kikuko Tagawa is the executive director of IFAI Japan.

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