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      Widening community participation in preparing for climate-related disasters in Japan

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            Revision notes

            As Track changes were not used, the revised areas were highlighted in the manuscript.


            Review 1:

            Thank you very much for the thorough review and helpful comments. Please see our response inserted below.


            Level of importance

            The manuscript is very relevant to the contemporary discussions around CBDRR and community-based CCA. The article provides a number of important insights into widening community participation within the Japanese context. This is done according to a number of case studies.


            Level of validity

            One of the worrisome aspects of the article is the academic argumentative style that is used. In some cases it follows an almost conversational style. This can be due to the fact that the authors might not be English mother togue speakers and that some aspects does not easily translate from Japanese onto English. The main flaw in this manuscript is basically the title. One would expect a stronger DRR and CCA focus. Very little of the article focusses on CCA at all. In reading about the case studies, the DRR and CCA components are not clear. The manuscript relies on the analysis of a number of case studies to make the argument for widening participation in DRR and CCA. The majority of the article is focussed on disaster preparedness and response issues. These cannot be equated to DRR and CCA. There is thus a contradiction in what the reader expect after reading the introduction and what is delivered by the authors. I do appreciate the methodology followed as well as the “rich” verbatim data obtained through the various interventions. It is clear that a number of stakeholders formed part of the research which gives it a broader perspective.

            – We appreciate our study wasn’t about DRR including CCA, although we support such perspectives. We have shifted the focus of this paper to be in line with our empirical data, which is the transition from recovery to preparedness in post-disaster phases and communities’ strategies on widening participation.


            Level of completeness

            The authors provide a valid and strong theoretical foundation for CBDRR, and makes an interesting link to kojo, jijo and kyojo (and machizukuri). However, the article falls short in binding the theoretical focus with the methodology, results and discussion. In some sense the expectation of the reader falls flat because these very important aspects is not drawn through the whole argument, or it is not entirely clear. I keep on asking: “but where is the DRR and CCA aspects?”

            – Please see above


            Level of comprehensibility

            The article will benefit from an English editorial review. I sometimes missed the logical argument and had to read and re-read sections several times. There is a disconnect between the theoretical foundation of the article, the flood event mentioned, and the case studies. It is not clear if the event was the catalyst for all of the community projects? I do not believe Figures 6, 8 and 10 add any value to the article. Figure 9 needs translation. The authors can critically reassess their main line of argumentation to make this more precise and focussed on both DRR and CCA within the context of wider participation by communities.

            – The paper has been edited by a native speaker of English. We have clarified the theoretical foundation of the paper and developed a narrative focusing on widening participation. With this, some figures which were no longer needed have been deleted. The translation for Figure 9 is now attached.


            Specific comments:

            • I am not convinced that the article “talks” to the title. As mentioned the DRR and CCA focus of the article is not fully addressed through the research. What makes the projects a DRR or CCA project?

            – Please see the first point. The title has also been modified to reflect the content of the paper.

            • Some of the sentences and paragraphs, especially in section “5. Four projects” can be edited and streamlined which will add to the logical flow of the manuscript. The text seems to jump from one idea to the next without adequate explanation of some of the elements (e.g. Bosai Café and Bosai Future Meetings are not well explained; how does “Yellow Ribbon”  contribute to DRR, it seems like a response to an emergency? Family Diary is not well explained – what does it entail? Is it a physical diary? Online? How is it administered?)

            – This is a fair point. Focusing on one representative initiative in each project, the section has been updated to probe how it intends to widen participation applying the EAST framework.  

            • I found it difficult to follow the main line of argument throughout the paper. This might be due to the varied foci on evacuation, disaster response, events which occurred, and community-based development projects. I do not get the sense that the authors are themselves very comfortable with what they mean by community-based DRR and CCA. I see very little of these two aspects in the article although the title highlights these as main issues. The manuscript will have to change significantly on the empirical side to include a strong DRR and CCA focus if the title remains the same.

            – We were trying to incorporate various related topics in one paper. For clarity, we have decided to use ‘recovery’ and ‘preparedness’ and ‘DRR’ only where appropriate. We have also improved the flow of the paper by focusing on widening participation and the EAST framework.

            • The aspect of ‘widening participation” is commendable and interesting. I do believe the article manages to capture this element through the research and case studies.

            – We agree with this point and have shifted the focus on widening participation.  

            • Why the mention of the "disaster cycle" in Table 4? If one talks about DRR the focus is on the reduction of risk and not disaster relief, response or recovery. These are distinctly different from DRR. The authors should be weary of equating the thinking in "disaster management" i.e. the disaster cycle, to DRR. Thus a community-based project focussing on disaster recovery cannot be seen as a community-based DRR project except if that recovery is undertaken through a DRR lens (e.g. the recovery leads to risk reduction, avoidance or transfer). It seems like a lot of the discussions and responses revolved around disaster response issues. I do get the sense how DRR or CCA was enhanced.

            – We accept four projects vary, and each project wasn’t analysed through DRR and CCA lens. One common criterion is all projects are shifting/have shifted from recovery to preparedness, and we have added this explanation in the methodology as well as finding sections.  

            • Methodology: It would be beneficial to include one sentence in the methodology giving the total "N" as well as a brief biographical breakdown of the participants (gender/age if available). CBDRR is all about hearing all voices.

            – The breakdown of the participants has been added.

            • Utilising verbatim comments is very useful but they seem to disappear in the text. Consider putting these in italics in their own indented paragraph.

            – Some of the quotes have been italicised and paraphrased.

            • I fail to see the DRR or CCA interventions in the Aruku and Satsuki projects. The project in the Evacuation card project in Ehime Prefecture contains some element of DRR but is still very much focused on disaster preparedness and response. It would be beneficial if the authors can make these connections for the reader.

            – As explained above, the paper no longer focuses on DRR and CCA. It is correct Aruku and Satsuki Projects draw on recovery and preparedness.  

            • The discussion section provides a number of interesting thoughts on participation which can be expanded through community-based DRR and CCA lens.

            As the focus of the paper has changed, we have used the discussion section to further discuss the chosen theoretical framework, i.e. the EAST framework.

            • The conclusion contains a new discussion on participation which seems out of place. I would suggest moving this to the previous section and incorporate.

            – Some relevant discussions have been incorporated into the discussion section.

            Review 2:

            Thank you very much for the thorough review and helpful comments. Please see our response inserted below.


            General assessment

            This manuscript provides an interesting introduction and analysis of community-based DRR in the context of flooding events in Japan. Its strength is its empirical insights into the normative, and often politicized, concept of community-based DRR. It offers an interesting perspective of how ideas of participation and “wider” participation have been approached and implemented across four community-based projects. The paper would, however, benefit from a stronger positioning within the existing literature, a stronger framework for analysis as well as a stronger presentation and emphasis on the central argument and contribution.

            We agree with this point and have strengthened the literature review, clarified the theoretical framework and improved the argumentation throughout the paper, focusing on widening participation.


            The overall flow and consistency of the argument

            From the abstract and introduction, the main contribution appears ambiguous. Generic references are made to several large discussions currently taking place within DRR/CCA scholarship without being directly linked to the main conclusions, findings and concepts of the paper (e.g. participation versus community engagement, DRR versus CCA approaches and the notion of widening participation contra discussions of types and ideals of participation). Especially, the first sections of the paper appear fragmented and confuse the reader at times.

            – We accept this point and rearranged the first sections to clarify the main contribution of the paper.

            The purpose of the paper is, in my reading, to explore the dimensions of participation in DRR through four specific projects and to discuss the (often) neglected barriers to broad and wide inclusion of people living in the communities in question. The paper would benefit from emphasizing this contribution from the beginning and building the argument around this main contribution.

            – It is absolutely so. We have emphasised our contribution is on bringing in widening participation perspectives in DRR research.    

            Finally, the authors should write out the full definition and understanding of the main concepts early on. Especially the idea of the "widening participation approach" and how it relates to other types of community-based DRR is difficult to grasp from the introductory text and should be explained in more details to understand the very premise of the paper.

            – We have reorganised the introduction, which now lays out the main concepts of the paper.


            The use of, referencing to and positioning within the existing literature on community-based DRR and democracy theory.

            The paper positions itself within broader discussions of DRR, CCA and questions of participation in democratic community-based DRR. This positioning needs to be elaborated and exemplified with a much stronger use of the existing literature and debates on community participation in CCA/DRR. One concrete example is the authors' references to the existing discourses of community-based DRR in the literature. The paper argues that the current literature focuses on “types” or “success factors” but without describing what these strands of literature contain in detail, without referencing the vast amount of literature on participation in community-based DRR and without engaging in details with the problems and pitfalls associated with existing approaches and how this paper will contribute to solving some of these. A more comprehensive literature review is needed as well as a more detailed description and exploration of the “widening approach” applied and explored in the case study.

            Moreover, a deeper engagement with the existing scholarship would help the authors create a more coherent conceptual framework for the analysis (see point below).

            – We have rearranged the literature review section elaborating on the existing participation literature, but also linking it to the widening participation agenda including some HE literature. Due to this strategy, we treat democracy as an ultimate societal goal, rather than the process of participation in this paper.  


            Case selection

            The paper uses four different community-based DRR projects as the main point of the departure. It is, however, a bit unclear how each of these contributes to a deeper and more general understanding of community-based DRR and CCA. The authors write that all of them are considered good practices in Japan but it is evident from the analysis that they are quite different in scope and set-up and how the relate to questions of DRR and CCA. Some reflections on this as well as the extent to which these projects can be used to draw more general conclusions about the widening approach would strengthen the section.

            – We appreciate four cases are ‘quite different in scope and set-up’. However, one aspect all communities have in common is they have learned/are learning from previous disaster experiences, which has led to their preparedness action. This is now emphasised as part of the case selection criteria.


            The (lack) of conceptual framework and structuring of analysis 

            The analysis holds many interesting details and empirical insights into how community-based DRR can be more inclusive in its orientation toward the community. Different strategies are presented as part of the description of each project; however, it is unclear how the authors arrived at these different “types” of widening participation and how the authors arrived at the current format of presenting the empirical insights. The analysis would benefit from a stronger connection and integration with the theoretical and conceptual foundations and a more structured analytical framework would help the reader follow the analysis and results as they are presented.

            We totally accept this point. Drawing on widening participation literature, we have chosen to apply the EAST framework as the paper’s conceptual framework. This has helped us better structure the finding and discussion sections.


            Review 3:


               Table 1 Intended challenges of Knowledge Transfer (as interpreted by Okada)

            Widening participation (WP) in UK  transfer to WP in Japan

            A.  Higher education at_ university  ⇒Community-based DRR practice

            B.  Good practice but a barrier remains ⇒Good practice but a barrier remains

            C.  UK’s participatory model     ⇒Japan’s participatory model

            D.  Democratic society         ⇒Democratic society

            E. Findings (Return to UK?)    ⇔ Findings (transfer to other cases in Japan? )

            Based on the above frame of reference, here are a list of questions and clrafications:

            (Question A)

            A-1 Please explain how different it is between “Widening Participation (originally) developed for higher education_at_university in UK,” and the one the authors have applied to Japanese DRR community practices?

            -Explain more in detail the borrowing of the phrase – We didn’t know when we wrote the previous version of the paper. Identifying differences is one of the objectives of applying a conceptual framework – the EAST framework in this paper.  

            A-2 The authors have applied “the notion of (UK’s) Widening Participation. (NUKWP, for short.)” They should elaborate on this. Is NUKWP no more than a concept or does this include policy guidelines, programs, practices or methodologies? – The literature review now includes further explanation on NUKWP.

            A-3 Is NUKWP associated with higher education at universities or more extended and generalized to other subjects such as community-participation? – NUKWP is mainly used in education, particularly HE, not in community contexts.

            A-4 Is NUKWP yet highly determined by UK contexts? – Yes, due to the clear divide between ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ groups of students historically created. A similar situation can be seen in Japan and elsewhere, but the divide is deeply-rooted in the UK context.  

            A-5 What kind of special and new thoughts are needed to apply it to Japanese DRR community practices? – We have explored this aspect in the discussion section.


            (Question B)

            B-1  Though not clearly mentioned in this manuscript, I have interpreted that NUKWP or the original UKWP (OKWP) starts with identifying good practices and proceed to examine their barriers for widening participation. The same goes for discussing Japan’s “community-based DRR. Is it correct to understand that the authors strategically selected case study areas with “good practices” as awarded by public sectors or recommended by researchers (who have been involved there.) – Yes, the ‘good practices’ were selected intentionally. This is explained in the methodology section.


            B-2  In the former studies on WP, are there important key concepts already developed to address good practices and identify gaps for further participation?    Otherwise, have the authors found new knowledge to broaden WP through this study ?  In this relation, let me note that the authors suggest this gap should be considered as a spectrum ranging from ‘core’ participants to ‘marginal’ participants and to ‘non-participants’, not as an either/or option (‘regular’ or ‘not participating’). In this spectrum, core participants promote the involvement of non-participants using various strategies, e.g. ‘everyday participation’, ‘participation through invitation’. Have previous studies already proposed to distinguish for instance, ‘core’ participants to ‘marginal’ participants and to ‘non-participants’, etc.?  In the contrary, are these a new pieces of knowledge derived from this study? – We no longer include the exploration on ‘core/marginal participants’ in order to give a clear focus on the application of the EAST framework.


            (Question C)

            C-1  I suspect that NUKWP or the original UKWP (OKWP) is characterized by

            “Top-down/deliberation or coproduction approach”. In contrast, the Japanese DRR community practices you have adopted as case study models are characterized by

            “Bottom-up/deliberation or coproduction approach”. Is it correct to understand that way? – This is an important point, and we have addressed this point in the conclusion.


            C-2  In the above, I have borrowed the notion of “Top-down/deliberation or coproduction approach”. vs. “Bottom-up/deliberation or coproduction approach”. The authors have included discussions of “theorising 'participation” (in page 9) where the above classifications are introduced. This would help the reader and wider disciplinary researchers obtain an overarching roadmap perspective.    I encourage the authors to make use of these discussions more explicitly in the following case study analysis.

            In the current manuscript, “theorising 'participation” is not effectively linked to the following major streams of analysis. (If it is intended to be just a supplementary explanation, much more contracted description would be sufficient.) – Our paper is an initial attempt to theorising widening participation, rather than theorising participation. It is assumed the former is part of the latter, although it is beyond the scope of this paper.  


            C-3 What makes “machizukuri” special as compared to just DRR community practice?

            I am afraid the authors have not clearly elaborated on this point. – We accept this point. We realised the paper was trying to incorporate too many themes. To strengthen our argumentation, we now refer to ‘machizukuri’ only to explain DRR is often part of the overarching machizukuri agenda.  

            I will get back to this later.


            (Question D’)

            D-1  Though not explicitly mentioned in this paper, is it right for me to understand that WP (OKWP or NKWP) should be closely associated with building a (more) democratic society? – Yes

            D-2  Do the authors observe that this should also be the case for community-based DRR activities? Is this the reason why the notion of WP has been applied to examine DRR practices in Japan?  (Note that this assumption is not always obvious in DRR, particularly when top-down, command control approaches are prioritized in emergency management, or more dominant in some countries with different socio-political regimes.) – Yes    

            D-3  The emphasis of democracy is particularly obvious in the case of DRR education with a focus on fostering citizenship. Becoming a citizen through social participation is focused. What about other projects such as Aruku Project, Satsuki Project, and Evacuation Card Project? Are they also oriented towards (more) democratic society? – Yes, we see it as one of the ultimate goals of participatory approaches. We refer to this in the paper but haven’t been involved in in-depth discussion on democracy in order to stay focus on the widening participation agenda in recovery and preparedness projects.

            Here is a related statement: “Motivating more residents to participate is significant in the realising of a democratic society. This common challenge is worth exploring in deepening the discussion on participation (page 10).”


            (Question E)

               May we expect to apply the major findings of this study to other areas in Japan? – We do hope so.

               May we expect to bring back some of the findings to WP in UK? – Possibly in community projects.


            (More detailed discussions on “Machizukuri”)

             The authors are advised to more systematically itemize basic conditions for “machizukuri.” In the current manuscript, they are not systematically focused. Please refer to the following examples.    

            1. From the following statement, the authors claim that “machizukuri” should cover an “overarching social policy” for community development.  

            (“The paper also draws on machizukuri [community development], which has increasingly become an overarching social policy integrating health, welfare, education and DRR in Japan.” (Abstract on page 1.))

            1. Is it appropriate to understand that” machizukuri” is a scheme to pave the way for building a democratic society? (see the statement “The paper also suggests that in Japan, machizukuri ‘community development [machizukuri or chiikizukuri]’ policy is promoted as one of the avenues for building a democratic, resilient and sustainable society.(page 9.)”)
            2. In Table 5, Miyoshi Ward, Ozu City is not regarded as “machizukuri,” whereas the other cases are regarded as  “machizukuri.”  What factors are missing in Miyoshi Ward?
            3. In conclusion, the authors argue that taking a small concrete step as such, rather than embarking on a grand design of a community-based plan, appears to encourage people to get involved. I agree. I would add one more word, the above underlined message (community-based. small, step by step, adaptive approach) is considered as an effective “machizukuri approach.”

            As mentioned in C-3, we cut down the discussion on machizukuri to allow a stronger focus on the application of the EAST framework in this paper. We find the above points 1-3 very helpful and would like to consider in a future study.



              This paper is very interesting, valuable and offers a fresh view and approach to study how to improve DRR practices in Japan. I appreciate this kind of transdisciplinary, cross-cultural knowledge transfer effort.  This kind of research, however, entails challenges of bridging multi-disciplinary knowledge and experience, clarifying and overarching pre-assumed conditions and unshared knowledge.  I hope the proposed frame of reference for this kind of discussion helps the authors refine and improve the paper.  Note that they should only address relevant questions and comments. – Thank you very much for the thorough review and supportive comments.



            This paper discusses community participation drawing on ongoing disaster recovery and preparedness projects in the communities affected by the Heavy Rain Event of 2018 in western Japan. Participatory approaches have become a mainstream methodology for community-based disaster risk reduction as advocated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-30. The majority of participation research addresses either ‘success’ factors for participation or the types of participation. The paper proposes a notion of ‘widening participation’ in addressing the challenge of attracting people to participate in preparedness initiatives. Originally widening participation was a higher education policy in the UK aiming to broaden the demographic composition of the student base. Even the recovery and preparedness projects that are publicly recognised as ‘good practices’ struggle to recruit more people for the projects. Borrowing the notion of widening participation, the paper identifies how each project encourages non-participants to get involved in the project activities. The paper applies the EAST framework widely utilised in the policy making of widening participation and further public services. Rather than providing the public with information and guidance, ‘easy’, ‘attractive’, ‘social’ and ‘timely’ behavioural approaches tend to enable participation. Examining these four principles in the four cases of recovery and preparedness projects, the paper suggests that the EAST framework is feasible in strengthening the strategies for widening participation in preparedness action. The paper however recognises a need to address the difference between top-down public policies and bottom-up community projects in the application of the framework.


            Author and article information

            UCL Open: Environment Preprint
            UCL Press
            29 July 2022
            [1 ] Institute of Education, UCL, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AH, UK
            [2 ] Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Gokasho, Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, 611-0011, Japan
            Author notes
            Author information

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            : 4 March 2022
            : 29 September 2022

            The data that support the findings of this study are available from Research participants but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. Data are however available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of Research participants.
            Earth & Environmental sciences,Social & Behavioral Sciences
            widening participation,the EAST framework,community-based DRR,behavioural insights,participatory approaches,Climate,climate-related diasters,Sustainable development,participation


            Date: 29 September 2022

            Handling Editor: Prof Dan Osborn

            Editorial decision: Accept. This revised article has been accepted following peer review and it is suitable for publication in UCL Open: Environment.

            2022-09-29 12:27 UTC

            Date: 08 September 2022

            Handling Editor: Prof. Dan Osborn

            The article has been revised, this article remains a preprint article and peer-review has not been completed. It is under consideration following submission to UCL Open: Environment for open peer review.

            2022-09-08 15:22 UTC

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