Rebuilding Japan and Reaching the World
On Launching This Website
The string of massive earthquakes that struck on March 11 off the Pacific coast of Japan’s northern Tōhoku region, the tsunami they triggered, and the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have presented Japan with its greatest challenge since the end of World War II. Our hearts go out to the victims and evacuees still suffering through the aftermath of this disaster, and our condolences to the families of the many thousands who died.
At the same time, we strive to keep our observer’s eye focused on the disaster as it continues to unfold. This is an event that will bring about fundamental change in Japan’s very being in the twenty-first century.
We are responding to this unprecedented situation with this website. With generous support from the Nippon Foundation, we offer examinations of the conditions in which Japan now finds itself, as well as the tasks that lie before it as it seeks to rebuild, in three languages: English, Japanese, and Chinese.
These are timely messages to deliver to a global audience. Economic growth is a tool for enhancing people’s affluence and happiness, and increasing flows of electricity have long been required to keep this growth on track. The accident at the nuclear power plant threatens drastic change to our social structures built around the goal of growth, as well as sweeping ecological shifts. This may well be a warning bell sounded as we move deeper into a century when the global population is on its way to the 10 billion mark.
Communities across a broad swath of northern Japan, from the northern Kantō through the Tōhoku regions, were destroyed in an instant in the shaking and waves of March 11. The forces of nature swept away not just people’s lives and livelihoods, but their traditions and histories as well, in a manner we can only describe as unjust and cruel. A nation surrounded by the sea, Japan throughout its history has looked to the oceans as a source of sustenance—a fact that makes it all the more likely that this natural disaster will bring about fresh shifts in the Japanese consciousness and way of life as its impact becomes more fully felt.
On the international stage, the crisis has sparked an outpouring of aid for Japan from nations around the globe. At the same time, though, we have seen a wave of ungrounded rumors concerning the nuclear plant situation that threaten Japan’s international standing in various ways. As the third-largest economy in the world, our nation is clearly a deeply linked part of the global community, for better and for worse. The disaster-caused changes to the networks linking Japan to the rest of the world will bear close watching for some time to come.
And so we watch the aftermath of March 11 unfold. What can be done? What must we do? With this site, we have determined to share the broad spectrum of voices and bold proposals from Japan in the hope that they will be of benefit to the Japanese reconstruction and to the global community as a whole.
We hope this site will be viewed by as many people as possible. Please share it with others. (Written on April 1, 2011.)
Representative director of the Nippon Communications Foundation (the Japan Echo Foundation at the time of writing); journalist. After joining Jiji Press in 1972 as a political reporter, served as the Paris correspondent and deputy chief of the Editorial Bureau. Became president of Japan Echo Inc. in 2003. Recipient of the Stella della solidarietà italiana. Works to share Japanese views and trends with a global audience.