Japan in Crisis: What Will It Take for Japan to Rise Again? by Bong Youngshik, T. J. Pempel (eds.)

By Bong Youngshik, T. J. Pempel (eds.)

This quantity, stemming from the Asan Institute for coverage reviews, observes that for Japan to 'rise back' could suggest restoration not just from the triple disaster—the March, 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown—but from 20-plus years of monetary stagnation, political fumbling, and deterioration in Japan's local and international influence.

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The government’s faltering response to the nuclear meltdown further shocked the world. For many, both in Japan and abroad, these multiple crises seemed to symbolize and exacerbate Japan’s longerterm problems, including the decline of rural areas and the incompetence of the political system, which seemed even less capable under the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) than it had in the waning years of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) regime that had ruled Japan for almost all of the five decades before the DPJ gained control of the cabinet in 2009.

However, at this moment, the three factors elaborated above are major leading elements fostering the strong public mood of “Datsu Genpatsu”—nuclear energy phase-out. That mood rests on a loss of public confidence in nuclear safety policies and seems to be expanding, with the public inclined to pursue alternative mixes of energy sources. 18 “Ohi genpatsu saikado ‘hantai’ 54%” [54% oppose restart of Ohi nuclear power plant], Asahi Shimbun, May 21, 2012. Masakatsu Ota 45 The fourth Hibaku for this nation, which was triggered by the massive tsunami and earthquake and exacerbated by a series of human errors before and after 3/11 both by TEPCO and the public authority, is likely to intensify the country’s anti-nuclear atmosphere in the short run and solidify this social trend in the long run.

However, at the time of the accident, decisions on emergency responses were made primarily by the NERHQ, which is located on the fifth floor of the Prime Minister’s Office. All relevant ministers and the chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan convened there. Senior executives of TEPCO were also present. The emergency team members on the underground floor could hardly catch up with the discussions taking place at the NERHQ on the fifth floor. 7 In other words, indispensable coordination for smooth crisis-management operation among senior levels of the GOJ did not occur at the initial stage of the accident because of a lack of serious advance preparedness.

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