Today we remember the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan two years ago and led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. No doubt most of us have seen the horror images (especially the video record) from that time. These are unforgetable but distance and the passing of time leaches away their impact. It is another matter for the people on the ground, actually having to cope with the aftermath, even now.
The latest Economist notes that today:
… marks the second anniversary of the tsunami that killed 18,500 people in Japan. Good news is scant. Almost 315,000 evacuees still live in cramped temporary housing, and need new homes.
That assessment perhaps is a little unfair. In the last two years, the Japanese authorities have had to cope with the immediate aftermath of an immense catastrophe. If that weren’t enough, also the country’s leadership has had to rethink huge swathes of public policy – not least for energy, climate change, food security, agriculture and the economy – amidst political turmoil at home and with a roller-coaster economic crisis and a deteriorating international security situation impacting from abroad.
The magnitude of this situation is captured in a new book just published by NIAS Press, After the Great East Japan Earthquake: Political and Policy Change in Post-Fukushima Japan
, edited by Dominic Al-Badri and Gijs Berends. This book is a little unusual, being written (rather carefully, let’s be frank) by diplomats and policy experts at European embassies to Japan. Rather than simply chronicle the triple disaster, it also explores subsequent shifts in Japanese politics and policy-making to see if the disaster has led to a transformation of the country, a shift in how Japan functions.
The book is now available in Europe and Japan, with copies arriving elsewhere soon.