Lessons from Japan’s Disaster

22 March 2012, 6:00 – 7:00pm

Chatham House, 10 St James’s Square, London SW1Y 4LE

The Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011 inflicted unprecedented damage on Japan. The social and economic turmoil continues to this day. The disaster exceeded all assumptions that the nation had made to date, unleashing catastrophic damage of unimaginable magnitude. The release of radioactive substances into the environment from the troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant has spread fear about the contamination of agricultural products and about other ramifications. Power shortages caused by reduced electricity generating capacity have extended economic disruption far beyond the areas immediately affected to the country as a whole. Japan’s experience is under scrutiny around the world from the perspective of crisis management. Meanwhile, in the wake of the disaster, people from all over the world extended warm support and encouragement to Japan. This resulted in Japan becoming the world’s largest recipient of aid for the year 2011. (Lessons from the Disaster: Risk management and the compound crisis presented by the Great East Japan Earthquake, edited by Yoichi Funabashi and Heizo Takenaka, The Japan Times, 2011)

The editors of the book believe that they can best repay the world for its interest and concern by reporting on the lessons Japan has learned from the disaster. In the seminar, Professor Takenaka will argue that the current crisis is a “comprehensively linked crisis” and will examine the impact the disaster inflicted on the Japanese economy as a whole, while Dr Funabashi will discuss the “failure” of the governance, calling the nuclear emergency at Fukushima a “man-made crisis”.

Dr Yoichi Funabashi

Dr Yoichi Funabashi is the former Editor-in-Chief and Columnist for the Asahi Shimbun. While at theAsahi Shimbun, Dr Funabashi was selected a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and was appointed Visiting Fellow at the Institute for International Economics and Distinguished Guest Fellow at The Brookings Institution. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Crisis Group and currently serves as Director of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation. Funabashi graduated from the University of Tokyo and acquired his PhD from Keio University, where he is currently Guest Professor.

Professor Heizo Takenaka

Professor Heizo Takenaka is a graduate of Hitotsubashi University, where he earned a BA in Economics. After graduation, he joined the Japan Development Bank and later worked as Senior Economist in the Japanese Ministry of Finance. He was also a Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard University. During the period 2001–2006, Takenaka served in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Koizumi as Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy, Minister of State for Financial Services, Minister of State for Privatization of the Postal Services, and Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications. Takenaka has a PhD in Economics from Osaka University, and is a professor in the Faculty of Policy Management at Keio University.

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