Japan

Policy Lessons for Japanese Disaster Responses

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Abstract

In the wake of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power plant failure that devastated large parts of Northeastern Japan, Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced the formation of the Reconstruction Design Council. The aim of this committee is to bring together governors from the affected prefectures with outside experts to implement a reconstruction blueprint. The coming months will be a watershed, not only in physical reconstruction terms, but also in terms of restructuring Japan's "resilience." Mika Shimizu, Visiting Scholar at the East-West Center, argues that the foremost policy lesson from this tripartite disaster centers on "social resilience," which is the ability of local communities to maintain social cohesion and coordinate self-help initiatives in times of great upheaval.