News
 International
   Global Views
   Asia-Pacific
   America
   Europe
   Middle East & Africa
 National
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Business
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Taekwondo
 Media
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Life
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Housing
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 Job
 English Teaching
 Translation/Writing
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Business
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Entertainment
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Community
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 PenPal/Friendship
 Volunteers
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  America
CSIS Commentary:
Reflections on the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake
Largest Earthquake in Japan Takes Over 15,000 Lives
Special Contribution
By Michael J. Green & Nicholas Szechenyi
The Largest Earthquake in Japan — Ten years ago, on March 11, 2011, the most powerful earthquake in Japan's recorded history hit the island nation, costing tens of billions of dollars and taking more than 15,000 lives. Dubbed as the "Great East Japan Earthquake," the magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck off Japan’s northeastern shore generated enormous tsunami waves that spread across miles of shoreline, climbing as high as 130 feet. Damage to the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused another huge diaster, contaminating the surrounding areas and nations.

March 11 marks the 10th anniversary of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident that caused widespread damage along the coast of Japan’s Tohoku region. Known as the Great East Japan Earthquake, this triple disaster killed over 15,000 people and destroyed over $200 billion of infrastructure and assets, making it the costliest natural disaster in history. In the aftermath of this unimaginable tragedy, the resilience of the Japanese people inspired the international community to assist with the recovery and help Japan build the foundation for a stronger future.

On April 11, 2011, CSIS, in partnership with Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), launched a task force of prominent Americans chaired by then Boeing chairman, president, and CEO Jim McNerney to offer recommendations on how the United States and Japan could partner in the process of recovery and reconstruction. The task force was driven by several guiding principles, namely that the world needed a dynamic Japan and its ability to recover from “3-11” would have a profound impact on the international system. The task force formed working groups that examined opportunities for U.S.-Japan cooperation in areas such as health cooperation, economic recovery, and security. As the three principal authors of the report, we wanted to reflect on some of the lessons learned and Japan’s remarkable emergence from that tragedy as a bulwark of the international order 10 years later.

The economic devastation wrought by the triple disaster generated concern about the prospects for near-term recovery as well as Japan’s capacity to engineer sustainable growth. The task force noted that 3-11 not only damaged the Japanese economy but also illuminated challenges Japan was already facing such as deflation, an aging society, and massive public debt, all of which persist today. Policy prescriptions in our task force report included tax reform, deregulation, and the creation of special economic zones to revive the economy of the Tohoku region. Trade liberalization also featured prominently under the assumption that connecting Japan to a broader process of regional economic integration through multilateral trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would create valuable export markets for Tohoku and other areas. Ironically, the United States subsequently withdrew from that process and it was Japan that ratified a modified TPP and has inked several other trade agreements. Despite lingering questions about the prospects for sustainable growth, trade liberalization is one of the most concrete examples of economic reform since 3-11 and positions Japan to play a leading role in economic rulemaking for the global economy. When 3-11 occurred, only about 15 percent of Japan’s trade was covered by liberalizing international trade agreements, which now account for over 80 percent of Japan’s trade. It was a remarkable turnaround.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami also caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, heightening public concern about the safety of nuclear power plant operations and prompting a debate about Japan’s energy strategy, which at the time was set to become increasingly reliant on nuclear power. The task force emphasized U.S.-Japan dialogue on a range of issues including nuclear safety, energy sector resilience, and global market trends as Japan contemplated its future energy mix. We placed particular importance on not losing Japan’s leadership role in defining nuclear safety and security as China was beginning a rapid expansion of nuclear power plants itself. Japan’s energy policy debate has since focused more on alternative sources, but the government has not abandoned nuclear power as a stable supply of energy. Yet even though nuclear power could feature prominently in the context of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s recent pledge to make Japan carbon neutral by 2050, most of Japan’s nuclear power plants remain out of operation. Ten years after 3-11, definitive prescriptions for Japan’s future energy mix remain elusive.

One of the most impressive aspects of U.S.-Japan cooperation in the aftermath of 3-11 was Operation Tomodachi, a joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operation in the Tohoku region focused on search-and-rescue efforts, providing relief supplies, and rebuilding infrastructure to advance the relief effort. Effective bilateral coordination and the rapid mobilization of resources were critical to success, but among the task force recommendations was an assessment of lessons learned, including the consideration of other variables that might have complicated planning and execution in a more complex security contingency. Since that time, the two governments have established new bilateral coordination mechanisms and guidelines for defense cooperation reflecting legislation passed in 2015 allowing Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to exercise the right of collective self-defense in certain circumstances. One of the takeaways from 3-11 is that interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces will prove critical across a wide range of contingencies and requires enhanced capabilities, training, and exercises to ensure that the U.S.-Japan alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of a complex security environment.

The task force traveled to Tohoku and heard unforgettable personal stories of loss, courage, and resolve. There have been no deaths from radiation sickness and exposure from the nuclear accident was not as widespread as initially feared, but some 160,000 people were evacuated from their homes and only about 20 percent of those living in the areas closed off after the disaster have returned (a challenge akin to what New Orleans experienced after Hurricane Katrina in 2005). Manufacturing in Tohoku has rebounded, with over 90 percent of farmland and seafood processing facilities restored as of March 2020. But the reconstruction process is not only about physical infrastructure, and the 10th anniversary of 3-11 is a reminder of the need to continue providing emotional support to the people of Tohoku whose painful memories of that day are not easily erased.

Japan continues to face multiple policy challenges as it works to ensure a secure and prosperous future but has persevered with remarkable resilience and continues to command the respect of the international community. Back in 2011 it might have been difficult to imagine that 10 years later, Japan would be the world’s third largest economy; a leader in setting standards for trade and digital connectivity; the architect of a regional strategy, the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, embraced by the United States and other countries; and a committed investor in new defense capabilities to strengthen networks of security cooperation across Asia. But Japan emerged from 3-11 stronger than ever, a testament to the resilience that engineered recovery at home and sustained Japan’s leadership role abroad in defense of the international order. Though the task is not complete, it was that spirit of recovery, learning, and leadership that so many of us working together on this task force in Washington, Tokyo, and Tohoku had hoped to see.

The above writer, Michael J. Green, is senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. and Director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University. The co-writer, Kiyoaki Aburaki, is managing director for Japan at BowerGroupAsia and a former Japan Chair visiting fellow from Keidanren. Nicholas Szechenyi is a senior fellow and deputy director of the CSIS Japan Chair.

Commentary is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).



Related Articles
    China's Commitment to Stop Overseas Financing ...
    China Headaches for Iran Nuclear Deal
    The Quad's Strategic Infrastructure Play
    China, Again and Again and Again
    Engaging China on Climate before COP26
    When Will the United States Have a Special ...
    Is Latin America Important to China's Foreign ...
    Chinese National Oil Companies Face the Energy ...
    Four Years On: An Update on Rohingya Crisis
    11th Annual South China Sea Conference: ...
    A Glimpse of Chinese Ballistic Missile ...
    US Defense Chief Austin Accomplishes Two ...
    China’s New National Carbon Trading Market: ...
    Progress Report on China’s Type 003 Carrier
    Geopolitical Implications of Scientific ...
    China’s Third Aircraft Carrier Takes Shape
    Strategic Competition and Foreign Perceptions ...
    Bonny Lin, Ex-RAND Scientist, to Join CSIS
    Beyond Polysilicon: The Ties between China’s ...
    Biden-Moon Summit: Rejuvenating and ...
    S. Korean President Moon Jae-In to Meet with ...
    China’s New Space Station Is a Stepping-Stone ...
    Future Scenarios for Leadership Succession in ...
    How China Affects Global Maritime Connectivity
    What Do Overseas Visits Reveal about China’s ...
    CSIS Commission on the Korean Peninsula: ...
    Understanding China’s 2021 Defense Budget
    China’s Opaque Shipyards Should Raise Red ...
    How Developed Is China’s Arms Industry?
    Myanmar’s Military Seizes Power
    A Complex Inheritance: Transitioning to a New ...
    Combatting Human Rights Abuses in Xinjiang
    How Covid-19 Affected US-China Military ...
    Previewing the G-20 and APEC Summits
    Another US-Built Facility at Ream Bites the ...
    Vietnam Currency Investigation: Strategy and ...
    CSIS Press Briefing: U.S. Policy toward Taiwan
    Mapping the Future of U.S. China Policy
    Assessing the Direction of South Korea-Japan ...
    Chinese Investment in the Maldives: Appraising ...
    Dual Circulation and China’s New Hedged ...
    Shinzo Abe’s Decision to Step Down
    A Frozen Line in the Himalayas
    Addressing Forced Labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur ...
    Decoupling Kabuki: Japan’s Effort to Reset, ...
    Remote Control: Japan's Evolving Senkakus ...
    Sil-li Ballistic Missile Support Facility
    China Won’t Be Scared into Choosing ...
    What’s on the Horizon for Covid-19
    Next Steps for the Coronavirus Response
    COVID-19 Threatens Global Food Security
    Geopolitics and the Novel Coronavirus
    Hope for the Climate
    The Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
    What's Inside the US-China Phase One Deal?
    When Iran Attacks
    Ports and Partnerships: Delhi Invests in ...
    Seeking Clues in Case of the Yuemaobinyu 42212
    Signaling Sovereignty: Chinese Patrols at ...
    Red Flags: Why Was China’s Fourth Plenum ...
    Japan and Korea: Rising Above the Fray
    Only US Can Pull Japan, Korea Back from Brink
    China Risks Flare-Up over Malaysian, ...
    Fear Won’t Stop China’s Digital Silk Road
    Japan, N. Korea: Summit, Missiles, Abductions
    “Chinese, Russian Influence in the Middle ...
    Tracking China’s 3rd Aircraft Carrier
    CSIS Scholars Discuss Trump-Abe Summit
    Still Under Pressure: Manila Vs. the Militia
    Is North Korea Preparing for a Military Parade?
    Slow and Steady: Vietnam's Spratly Upgrades
    Sanctions against North Korea: An Unintended ...
    More Is Possible Now to Address North Korea’s ...
    North Korea Reportedly Renews Commitment to ...
    Settling Kurdish Self-Determination in ...
    The Trump Administration’s Trade Objectives ...
    How Is China Securing Its LNG Needs?
    Responding to the Xinjiang Surveillance State ...
    Rethinking U.S. Strategy in the Pacific Islands
    Will the Election Results Turn the Tide on ...
    China, US Choose Between 4 “Cs” Conflict, ...
    Shinzo Abe Rolls On
    Necessary Counterterrorism Conversations
    Trade and Wages
    North Korea Begins Dismantling Key Facilities ...
    Negotiating the Right Agreement: Looking ...
    The Korean Civil-Military Balance
    Will Trump-Kim Summit Be Cancelled?
    The Chinese Are Coming! The Chinese Are Coming!
    How Much Have the Chinese Actually Taken?
    The Other Side of N. Korean Threat: Looking ...
    The Other Side of the North Korean, Iranian, ...
    CSIS & Syracuse's Maxwell School Offer ...
    Dr. Sue Mi Terry Joins CSIS as Senior Fellow ...
    EU to Social Media: Regulate or Be Regulated
    Japan’s Lower House Election: Abe Prevails ...
    China and Technology: Tortoise and Hare Again
    "Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia"


 

back

 

 

 

The Seoul Times Shinheungro 25-gil 2-6 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 82-10-6606-6188 Email:seoultimes@gmail.com
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange