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Society / Culture

Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan: Response and Recovery after Japan’s 3/11

(Routledge, Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies 2012)

Jeff Kingston (edited)

At 2.46 pm, on March 11, 2011, the northeastern coast of Japan was struck by a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake which triggered a devastating tsunami and compromised reactor cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. This multi-authored volume seeks to assess the extent and the nature of what became known as the “Triple Disaster,” and the international, local and personal nature of recovery throughout the summer of 2011. The volume is immediate in focus, an impression enhanced by the fact that many of the authors live and work in Japan. The collection of essays also serves as a historical document, capturing the “evolving national mood and political fray” that shaped the immediate discussions of the disasters.
The sixteen chapters are divided into thematic sections. Part 1 “Disaster: Reports from Tohoku” is perhaps the most indicative of the volume’s rare combination of individual reaction with scholarly analysis. The volume then tackles the responses of civil society, the political landscape of energy policy, the fruitful analytical contrast that comes from considering post-1945 recovery with that of 3/11, and lastly the politics and practicalities of recovery and reconstruction in those communities devastated by the disasters. This last section provides a more focused reflection on how 3/11 has, and will, further transform the communities of northeastern Japan, Japan’s political and popular relationships with nuclear power, as well as global disaster-relief strategies. Yet most important are the insights this volume provides into the socio-economic relationship between Tokyo and Japan’s peripheries.

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