Japan 3.11 Earthquake and Tsunami One Year On

One year ago, Japan had a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and Tsunami, which took 15854 lives and caused radioactive leakage at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. 3155 people are still not found and over 340,000 moved out from original housing voluntary or involuntary.

First, I would like to express my sympathy to those who lost their lives and who still suffers, and my deepest appreciation to the condolences, messages and support from all over the world. Over 1 billion dollar donation, thousands of messages sent under #prayforjapan, immediate rescue assistance from many countries and the other forms of support — those activities definitely helped Japanese people both physically and mentally.

I was in Geneva on the day, so I came to know the disaster by the phone call from my family. Every news and videos showed the tragic situation and it made me feel so powerless and guilty to be away from Japan and just sitting in front of the computer screen.

During this one year, Japan has experienced many stages and events as time passed by; the solidarity expressed from overseas, and within Japan including ‘Jishuku’ movement, which everyone refrain from consumption of non-essential goods, and the countermovement in order to re-boost the economy, malfunction and distrust toward the cabinet and the change of Prime Minister, import restrictions on ‘made-in-Japan’ and electricity shortage due to the stop of nuclear plant.

Majority of Japanese people outside Tohoku area has already re-gained their ordinary life, but we still need time for the reconstruction. “3.11” was an extremely painful and complex event, but the learning from this recovery process would be an asset, not only for Japan, but also for all the countries.

I wish you would remember the day until the sun rises again.

Here are some links:

Photos: Disaster survivors express their wishes for 2012 (Mainichi Newspaper)

Photos: Situation in Tohoku just after the catastrophe (New York Times)

WHO’s view in answer to nuclear concerns

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2 Responses to Japan 3.11 Earthquake and Tsunami One Year On

  1. marisa burton says:

    Great post! And I do think it’s on-topic because this kind of thing reminds us that the “developed” world is really also still trying to figure out a lot of things – which is part of the reason that it’s hard draw a border around “development”.

    In terms of learning from the recovery process, there’s an interesting piece in the Economist this month: http://www.economist.com/node/21549917 It basically argues that the recovery/response problems have eroded people’s faith in the government, and that the radiation leaks have made people more skeptical of authority in general (because so many authorities – academics, business leaders, etc – assured everyone for years that Japan’s reactors were completely safe)

    I’m curious to hear an insider’s perspective: Would you agree that there’s more open dissent towards the government or other authorities and less “groupthink” (as the Economsit puts it)? Or what do you think are the big lessons to take from the recovery?

  2. yukikk says:

    From my personal point of view, “groupthinking” and faith toward the state-level government is surely weakened after 3.11. The skepticism had begun even before 3.11, as Liberal Democratic Party showed its weak ability to control ministries. It just continues and become more obvious in the reconstruction process.
    However, I don’t think it applies to other aspect of the life. I would say so called groupthinking is almost a part of Japanese culture, avoiding conflict and expression of protest in public, which exist in many aspects of life (e.g. school education, business, local communities). Of course, it doesn’t mean you can not say opposing opinion, but you just need to carefully choose who and when to share it, so that your opinion is picked up.

    Regarding recovery process, recent poll shows 72% of Japanese people thinks the process is not as fast as they expected. I think it is because of 1) mistrust between the state-level government and the local authorities, mainly due to the initial failure in information sharing and 2) poor coordination and different needs among prefectures.

    But on the other hand, it is great to see the CSOs are more active and people re-evaluate the tie within the communities. I believe it is not only useful for recovery from 3.11, but also to be prepared for super aging society.

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