The Institute for Sustainable Community and Risk Management was established as one of the project research institutes at Waseda University in 2000, in order to make a contribution to further understanding disaster-affected societies in a sociological view, developing disaster research method and solving disaster-related social problems and risk-management issues. This study group dated back to 1970s, when social science research devoted to the study of disasters was activated in Japan. It seems to be an origin of disaster studies in a sociological view in Japan. After several years of efforts, a project research group was set up at the Department of Sociology at Waseda University under the leadership of the late Professor Rituo AKIMOTO at the beginning of 1980. Kitao ABE, a prominent social psychologist who profoundly interested in the phenomenon under the unexpected extreme situations, joined this group a few years later. This group, which was composed of professors, several young academics and researchers of other research companies, changed its name three or four times because of the reorganization of the research institutions at Waseda university.
The Institute for Sustainable Community and Risk Management conducts field and survey research on group, organizational and community preparation for, response to, and recovery from natural and technological disasters and other community-wide crises. The researchers have carried out systematic studies on a broad range of disaster types, including earthquakes, typhoons, floods, volcanic eruptions, and hazardous chemical or nuclear incidents. The Institute has been deeply concerned about the long-term reconstruction processes of communities affected by those kinds of disasters, especially such as the ones affected by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, Unzen-Fugen volcanic eruption. Staff have been traveling to communities throughout Japan and to a number of foreign countries, including Turkey, Thailand, China, New Zealand and the United States.