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Tsunami-tendenko and morality in disasters
  1. Atsushi Asai
  1. Correspondence to Professor Atsushi Asai, Department of Bioethics, Kumamoto University Graduate School of Health Science, Kumamoto 860-8556, Japan; aasai{at}

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I agree with Kodama's suggestion that tsunami-tendenko should be considered the basic principle of evacuation policies during disasters, and all community members including children should be educated about this principle and its importance.1 For the concept of tsunami-tendenko to be effective, mutual trust among family members and official advance disaster planning for those who cannot evacuate by themselves are necessary. To maximise the number of lives saved, all family members must firmly abide by the promise that each one will evacuate without searching, waiting or attempting to help other family members. To minimise the risk of tomo-daore (going down together) and maximise the chance for mutual survival in emergent situations like the Great East Japan earthquake on 11 March 2011, also known as the 3.11 earthquake, this simple and straightforward principle must be implemented. Additionally, as Kodama argues, it is better to teach the original tsunami-tendenko than a modified version.1 Human beings die very easily. If no perfect plan exists, then it is better to aim for attempts which may add even the slightest degree of benefit to life.2

The principle of tsunami-tendenko requires that each individual focuses solely on saving one's own life. However, …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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