Attempting to explore the role of direct experience in influencing disaster consciousness and public opinion, the purpose of this paper is to carry out comparative analyses of Japanese people’s knowledge, risk perception, and policy preference about large-scale earthquake disaster before and after the Great East Japan Earthquake. More importantly, aiming to provide implications regarding the application of past experience, the predictive power of direct experience on disaster consciousness is also examined. Design/methodology/approach: – This study analyzed parts of the data collected from two nationwide public opinion surveys among Japanese conducted by the Japanese Government. Analyses of variance were performed to examine changes in disaster consciousness. A path model was developed to examine the predicted effects of direct experience. χ2 tests were performed to examine changes in strategy preference. Findings: – This study found significant changes in Japanese people’s knowledge of natural hazards and perception of mega disaster risk. Tests of the path model suggested significant positive effect of societal level impact on disaster consciousness and strong predictive power of knowledge on risk perception. Significant changes in strategy preference were also found. Practical implications: – Results supported the predictive power of direct experience, highlighting the significance of recalling past experience as well as creating indirect experience to raise public consciousness and motivate appropriate actions. Originality/value: – This is one of the few studies that investigate changes in public opinion among Japanese before and after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
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