Since the triple tragedy of March 11, 2011, we have seen a number of changes in what we sometimes refer to as "civil society" in Japan. In particular, we have seen the emergence of new forms of social capital and social strategies generated through the disaster response, including: real time flows of information over digital networks; the mobilization of various non-governmental actors and agencies in the immediate relief effort; emergence of the "volunteer" as a new cultural citizen; different patterns of contact, cooperation, and competition among previously unrelated groups and individuals in the rebuilding effort; and dispersed political opposition movements that have generated the largest protests since the 1970's AMPO demonstrations. Based on David H. Slater's volunteer relief work and disaster-focused ethnographic research, this talk will begin to document the range, depth, and limitations of these changes in terms of their disaster relief efficacy, but mostly on their possible longer-term effect on the shifting shape of civil society in post 3/11 Japan.
Special Japan Studies Program and CEAS Series: Winter-Spring 2011-12
Looking Back, Looking Forward: Japan's March 11 Disasters One Year Later
The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that hit Japan in March 2011 had both immediate catastrophic consequences and long term repercussions. Fundamental areas of Japan’s environment, economy, society, and collective national psyche were deeply affected, giving rise to a broad range of urgent issues. These include economic debates about how to meet the country’s energy demands with nuclear power plants offline, and what path to take for the country’s energy future; political crises, including criticism of the government’s disaster response; the psychological challenges of coping with trauma and grief; a daunting environmental clean-up; and social developments, including a new wave of civil society activism. This series brings together scholars and activists from a wide range of specialties to take stock of how the Japanese have been affected by the disasters, and to assess the efforts of residents, volunteers, and policy makers to recover and move forward.