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17.10.2012 г.
JAPAN: THE 11TH OF MARСH, 2011 EVENTS. RESULTS AND LESSONS. Institute of Oriental Studies Russian Academy of Sciences.The Japan Foundation. MOSCOW. AIRO-XXI. 2012 - 224 p. (in Russian) ISBN 978-5-91022-157-8



Introduction (Molodyakova E. V., Markaryan S. B) translated by Garibov A. L. - 7

Chapter 1. Towards Reconstruction «Hope beyond the Disaster», 25 July 2011. Report to the Prime Minister of the Reconstruction Design Council in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. (Abridged translation by Garibov A. L.) - 27

Chapter 2. Internal Situation in Japan: Before and After of 11th of March, 2011 (Molodyakova E. V.) - 54

Chapter 3. The March of 2011: Economic Estimation (Lebedeva I. P.) - 72

Chapter 4. The 11th of March, 2011, Events and Japanese Agriculture (Markaryan S. B.) - 90

Chapter 5. “Fukushima”ۥ s Disaster: Cause and Effect (Denisov Yu. D.) - 114

Chapter 6. Natural and Technical Disaster of 2011 and Perspectives of Foreign Direct Investments in Japan (Timonina I. L.) -. 127

Chapter 7. Foreign Policy of the Democratic Party of Japan: Old Problems, New Decisions? (Murashkin N. Yu.) - 146

Chapter 8. Catastrophe on 11 of March 2011 and Japanese Mass Mediaۥ s Activities: Professional Duty under Trials and Tribulations (Naka K. O.) - 170

Chapter 9. The Great East Japan Earthquake and Russia: Aftershock in Media and Images (Kulanov A. E) - 185

Chapter 10. Presentiment of Tradegy (Katasonova Ye. L.) - 198


We consider it was necessary to write this book. The Japanese tragedy of March 11, 2011, which included natural disasters (powerful earthquake and tsunami), and industrial disaster (nuclear accident at Fukushima-1 power plant), was beyond the national scale and became a global problem. These developments, known as the Great East Japan Earthquake, affected many countries one way or another (politically, economically, socially and psychologically); the disaster affected the Japanese business abroad, as well as foreign companies, which have mutual commitments with the Japanese counterparts, and limited the foreign investment possibilities. Some countries even questioned the expediency of atomic power engineering.

At the same time, the disaster aroused general sympathy with the Japanese, who displayed great self-control and solidarity. Many countries not just demonstrated moral support and sympathy, but sent their rescue teams, furnished financial assistance, provided medical and food aid. Many foreigners worked side by side with the Japanese volunteers, clearing the debris at the disaster-afflicted area. Like many other nations, Russia – the close neighbour of Japan – also didn’t stand aside.

The earthquake struck at 2:46 pm local time (8:46 am Moscow time) on March 11, 2011. Several tremors (the most strong had the magnitude of 9.0) and tsunami took the lives of more than 20,000 people dead or missing. At the same time, the number of the immediate victims of seismic tremors was rather small – about 8%. Residential and office buildings, which were constructed with great margin of safety, stood underground shocks. Outside the immediate disaster area there were actually no destructions of seismic nature. The most devastating result of the earthquake was tsunami. The giant wave (up to 39 m high) caused death of tens thousands of people. Tsunami also became the principal cause of the nuclear accident at Fukushima-1 nuclear power station, which resulted in radioactive contamination of vast land area and coastal waters.

Although the disaster immediately affected only part of the Japanese territory – the Tohoku region at the north-east of Honshu island, – it hadconsequences for the whole Japanese nation: relatives and friends of those perished, wounded and missing; those who were left without a roof over their head and lost their property; those who came to help to the victims of disaster, who cleared the debris, etc.

The Great East Japan Earthquake has actually become a “black day” in the Japanese history. Naoto Kan, the then Prime Minister, immediately stated that the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident at Fukushima-1 was the greatest national calamity in Japan since the World War II. Thus, recovery and reconstruction of the country are the ultimate challenge to the nation. It is no mere chance that the Report to the Prime Minister of the Reconstruction Design Council in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake stated: “For us, the surviving, there is no other starting point for the path to recovery than to remember and honor the many lives that have been lost. Accordingly, we shall record the disaster for eternity, including through the creation of memorial forests and monuments, and we shall have the disaster scientifically analyzed by a broad range of scholars to draw lessons that will be shared with the world and passed down to posterity”.

While writing this monograph about quite recent events, the authors used a comprehensive approach, examining the problem in the context of political and economic activities of the Japanese government both at home and abroad, as well as the Japanese specific appreciation of the above-mentioned developments. Such approach determined the scheme of the monograph and allowed to present rather complete view of the events.

Chapter 1 presents the abridged translation of the Report to the Prime Minister of the Reconstruction Design Council in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake (issued on June 25, 2011), titled “Towards Reconstruction” with the subtitle “Hope beyond the Disaster”. This report in many respects served as a basis for the government program for recovery and reconstruction of the disaster-affected Tohoku region.

Chapter 2 says that the Great East Japan Earthquake fell on the period of complex internal political situation in Japan and serious foreign policy challenges. For a short time the disaster reduced the immediate pressure on Kan’s government both from the members of his own party and the opposition. Relations between the government and the opposition parties, to whom Kan appealed for collaboration, have also remained permanent “headache” for the next Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The stands of the two major parties – Democratic and Liberal Democratic – are similar in many respects. Currently the voters can easily ensure a victory of one of the two major parties by just changing their mind and giving their votes to one of them at the election. After taking a post of Prime Minister in July, 2010, Kan proposed a comprehensive reform of social security system and the increase of consumption tax, “opening” the country by large-scale liberalization of trade; however, the disaster has made him to change his plans. Also the Prime Minister hinted at the necessity for the Democrats to partly revise their electoral “Manifesto 2009”; this could lead to the riot in his own party (what actually happened in July, 2012). At the same time, the LDP leader once again demanded to dissolve the House of Representatives and to hold early election.

That was the situation in the country when the disaster of March 11 happened. It seemed the authorities had a chance to demonstrate their ability to meet this challenge. However, after the first shock, it became clear that the local authorities in the disaster-affecter prefectures were not at their best, and the work of the national government came under severe and valid criticism. The disaster made everybody to forget for a month about controversies among parties and made it possible to pass national budget for the 2012 fiscal year, as well as other related acts. The LDP has temporally changed its position from confrontation to cooperation, and declared a sort of a truce with the Democrats. This made it possible to pass the bills, which were necessary for financing reconstruction works and recovery of the disasteraffected areas.

The first step to solve the problems, caused by the disaster, was establishing on the same day the National headquarters for the elimination of the aftermath of the earthquake, headed by the Prime Minister. Then in the late June the Agency for national reconstruction was established in order to coordinate the reconstruction works. It outlined the basic principles of the government activities. The opposition leaders temporally refrained from the open policy of obstruction; however, they retained their critical attitude to Kan’s administration. The national sentiments were also not in favour of the acting Prime Minister, so he was replaced by Yoshihiko Noda.

The new Cabinet had to start solving the urgent problem of financing social security system and public expenditures. In the current situation there is no alternative for the government but to start tax reform and reform of social security system. First of all, it is a matter of increasing taxes on individuals; up to now every Cabinet didn’t dare to take such a step.

Chapter 3 shows in detail, that the March 11, 2011, disaster caused great damage to the national economy. According to the Cabinet Office estimates, the cost of the disaster totaled 16.9 trillion yen (about $220 billion). The processing industry was especially impaired by the disaster; hundreds of enterprises, which produced components for motor and electronic industries, as well as other major plants, were damaged. However, it is amazing, how quickly and efficiently the reconstruction works were performed. Railways, connecting the Tohoku and Kanto regions, which carry out most of cargo and passenger operations, were among the first restored facilities. Sendai airport, located not far from the coast and heavily damaged by tsunami, went into operation by the end of March. Round-the-clock works were carried out to restore motor road network on the north-east coast, which connected many towns and villages.

Heavy damage was inflicted to the national economy by the nuclear accident at Fukushima-1 power plant. According to the government estimates, the cost of the damage amounts to $130 billion – that is its monetary claim to Fukushima operator TEPCO. And this sum may increase in the future, taking into account that special commission of the Japanese Diet in its report of July 5, 2012, described the accident as an “industrial disaster”, not as a “natural” one, and laid the blame on the operator company, which didn’t take all due security measures for the power station and the population of the nearby areas.

The authorities were also criticized, because, like the operator company, they were not ready to take measures for disaster reduction in case of earthquake and tsunami and serious industrial accident, and to ensure safety of the population. The report says, Kan, the then Prime Minister, didn’t trust TEPCO and meddled in the process of elimination of the aftermath of the disaster, causing chaos in system of control and among the personnel. It is noteworthy, that the chapters of the monograph were written before the publication of the abovementioned report; however, nearly all the authors paid special attention to the “human factor” of the disaster.

The unprecedented disaster in Japan required unprecedented recovery and reconstruction measures for the disaster-afflicted areas. According to the government estimates, it will take at least 10 years to repair damage, inflicted to the north-east areas of Honshu by the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident. The major part of this work should be carried out during the initial five years – the so-called “period of concentrated efforts”.

The government intends to allocate 23 trillion yen for recovery and reconstruction program, including 19 trillion yen during the initial five years. But experts say it will require much more money to revitalize the damaged region. However, it seems that the nation will be able to carry out this great recovery and reconstruction work. First, the Japanese have all the necessary qualities for such endeavor. Second, Japanese economy, despite all the current problems and challenges, remains one of the most strong and efficient in the world. So it has the potential for further economic progress on the basis of its industrial, scientific, technological and financial power. Chapter 4 demonstrates that especially heavy damage was inflicted to agriculture and fisheries. Agriculture, forestry and fisheries are key industries in the damaged region. Tohoku is one of the most agriculturally developed regions in Japan – one fifth of cultivated land, value of agricultural products, and most profitable farm business is located here. Expenses of rice production here are the lowest (besides Hokkaido). Seven prefectures – Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Chiba – give half of all fish products in the country.

The life of local residents depends, to a considerable extent, on land, sea and port facilities. The latter can be restored rather easily, but it will take years to re-cultivate the littered and salted land – approximately, about 10 years. The estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries show that land in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures will be ready for agricultural work by 2014. However, in Fukushima prefecture it may take 30 years to completely decontaminate the land.

Some uneasy questions arose after the nuclear accident at Fukushima-1, caused by the earthquake and tsunami, notes the author of Chapter 5. The main question: why the possibility of such grievous natural disaster wasn’t foreseen in good time, and appropriate measures were not taken to avert such disastrous consequences. The nuclear scientists and other experts examined the accident in detail. Intense interest for the future of nuclear power engineering arose around the world, including sentiments against the use and construction of nuclear power plants.

Experts say the unfavorable developments at the nuclear power plant were the result of malfunction of the cooling system of the reactors. Thus, active zones of the three reactors were heavily damaged. This resulted in explosions of hydrogen and partial demolition of buildings; radioactive substance was thrown out to the atmosphere. The Fukushima nuclear accident to a certain extent resulted from the fact that it was built according to the project of the early 1960s. Its emergency cooling system was based on forced supply of water by electric pumps; thus, it needed uninterrupted electricpower supply, which was damaged by tsunami.

There is also some criticism about the personnel of the station. Finding themselves in the extreme conditions, they tried to precisely follow the instructions; however, they lacked initiative and inventiveness. At the same time, all these conclusions may seem not substantiated enough. The design of the modern power plants includes everything necessary to prevent radioactive contamination not only of the neighboring population, but of the personnel as well, in case of malfunction. It seems, today one must pay attention not just to the issues of the design of nuclear power plants, but also of their rational location. The significant contribution of nuclear power plants to the energy balance and, thus, to the national economy, is another weighty argument in favour of further development of atomic power engineering. This is quite clear in Japan, where, despite the Fukushima calamity, it was decided not to give up using atomic power stations.

The disaster of March 11, 2011, not just inflicted the actual damage; it may have prolonged impact on the national economy, government policy, economic strategy of companies, many aspects of the Japanese life, displaying some problems, which earlier existed in a latent form. The results of the natural and industrial disaster couldn’t but have an influence on the work of the Japanese and foreign companies in Japan, as well as on the investment climate. Did the attitude of foreign businessmen to the prospects of being engaged in business in Japan change after March, 2011? How did the inflow of foreign direct investment to Japan change? Would the government somehow adjust its course on attracting foreign investment to Japan? Is it possible to continue this course in the current situation? In Chapter 6 the author examines the position of Japan in the market of foreign direct investment, considers the causes of its small inflow, analyze the government policy of attracting foreign capital. The dynamics of the inflow of foreign investment to Japan after the disaster of March 11, 2011, is examined in detail. The author gives concrete examples of the response of the foreign businessmen, working in various industries, to the Fukushima tragedy, and their intentions about future business in Japan.

Special attention is paid to the assessment of the investment climate and its possible changes in the aftermath of the March 11 events. Despite the government measures, foreign entrepreneurs continue to point out the unfavourable peculiarities of the Japanese investment climate. In particular, they name high real estate prices, closed business practices, and complicated administrative procedures. It seems Japan should work hard to become attractive for foreign business, regardless of how quickly the aftermath of the natural and industrial disasters will be eliminated.

Today in Japan the internal political issues and foreign-policy problems are closely connected. All three Democratic Prime Ministers: Yukio Hatoyama, Naoto Kan and Yoshihiko Noda – faced serious foreign policy challenges, which demand swift reaction. Chapter 7 analyzes the Japanese foreign policy from the point of whether the DPJ Cabinets managed to meet these foreign policy challenges; whether their efforts were successful, and whether they could take into account and correct the mistakes of their predecessors. The chapter outlines the geo-political context, in which the DPJ succeeded to the Liberal Democrats; examines the diplomatic agenda on the main directions of bilateral relations with the USA, China, North Korea and Russia. For decades the Japanese foreign policy had several special features: reactivity, dependence on internal political issues, party factionalism, frequent changes of Cabinets. The author notes, that after 1991 the Japanese elites took a new view of geo-politics, and tended to pursue more autonomous foreign policy because of the disintegration of the USSR, changes of geostrategic grounds for the alliance with the USA, and the growth of China – all these factors have changed power balance in East Asia. Japan tries to combine its ties with the USA – its main military and strategic ally – with its integration in Asia, primarily, Japan’s relations with China.

The events of March, 2011, had an impact on several spheres of Japanese foreign policy. Bothe elites and society tended to pay more attention to the internal problems instead of foreign policy issues. Also, they started to revise the national fuel and energy balance with the objective of decreasing the share of nuclear power by increasing the consumption of gas and oil (primarily, gas) and developing the renewable sources of energy. After the disaster of March 11, 2011, Japan started to pursue the “revival diplomacy”. Japan’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs thoroughly explained the developments to the foreign partners, thanked for the help, and examined the prospects of collaboration in reconstruction of the disaster-afflicted areas by attracting investment and tourists, and by general improvement of Japan’s image.

The author of Chapter 8, who works in Russian mass media in Tokyo, had an opportunity to receive information in real time and to work in contact with Japanese and foreign mass media. The situation of March 11 appeared unpredictable for the Japanese mass media. They had to work in extreme conditions, without relying on precise instructions, emphasizing priorities, using some specific methods of informing, and rejecting others. The evident tenacity and concentration of the Japanese, who were not panic-stricken under extreme conditions, even after the reports about explosions at the nuclear power plant and expansion of the evacuation zone, were ensured, to a considerable extent, by the prompt and efficient interpretation of disaster aftermath by mass media, even in the first days of calamity.

During rescue operations mass media informed about victims as well as all aspects of life-support system: railway transport, telephone, humanitarian aid, hospitals, etc. Information about the situation at the nuclear power station was mainly spread at the press-conferences of the Cabinet Office General Secretary Yukio Edano and the representatives of TEPCO. On the whole, nobody can accuse the Japanese mass media of deliberate concealment of crucial information: they presented all information, which came from official sources. It is noteworthy that TV channels, including the commercial ones, during the two weeks after the disaster did actually without advertising, and in news programs they usually presented information about the needs of the disaster victims, the lists of the evacuated people, of those dead or missing. The advertising, which eventually appeared at the channels after the disaster, was of social nature: it was created on order of public organizations and funds, and TV channels transmitted it at no charge. The author states, that Japanese mass media correctly realized their role in extreme circumstances, and so they managed to prevent general panic and mass hysteria, which could aggravate the situation and lead to more victims. In this connection one must pay attention to the work of mass media abroad, which at that time definitely strained the situation.

Chapter 9 is written by a person, who had an opportunity for several months, day after day, to receive information “at first hand” and to analyze the image consequences of the developments. The chapter describes the situation in the Russian mass media, examines various forms and methods of informing about the March 11 disaster. Russia is Japan’s neighbor, and for Russians, especially those, who live and work in Japan, the aftermath of the Tohoku disaster was painful and enduring. Russians swiftly responded to the disaster and proposed feasible aid. According to the author, Japan’s calamity aroused sympathy with this nation among Russians, even those, who were earlier unsympathetic of them.

While looking at the modern Japanese art and literature after the Tohoku disaster, the author of Chapter 10 presumes that the Japanese for a long time had a presentiment of the approaching calamity. From time immemorial various possible disasters were associated in the Japanese consciousness with the earthquakes and tsunamis, and after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – with war and threats of industrial disasters. Very likely, that’s why the Japanese continually write books and shoot films about various catastrophes, and this books and films are so popular in Japan. The mythical monster Godzilla, a frightful mutant of gorilla and whale, who was born as a result of radiation impact, has become the most vivid personification of these sentiments. The early films about Godzilla put terror into the audience, evoking tragic memories about the last war and frightful associations with the American thermonuclear tests at the atoll Bikini in the Pacific (Japanese sailors became the victims of these tests). The film “Japan Sinks” (1974) after the novel by Sakyo Komatsu, seemed even more realistic and authentic. The plot is based on the fantastic hypothesis that in the near future Japan might sink in the ocean because of tectonic processes in the earth’s crust. The Japanese readers and audience were impressed not just by thedramatic and thrilling story; the film reflected their hidden inherent fears and anxieties about the future. Perhaps, this is the reason why the theme of Japan’s destruction has been so acute in the modern Japanese art for many years.

The popular anime “Akira” is a vivid example of this trend. The first episodes show the destruction of Tokyo by a nuclear explosion. The serial “Tokyo’s magnitude 8.0” (2009) is one of the last works in the catastrophe genre. Today this film evokes frightful associations with the actual disaster, and it might be seem as a forerunner of the tragedy of March 2011. The authors managed to predict many details of the accident at Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, although they were wrong about the actual date of the calamity (in the anime it is 2012).

For the world culture the tragedy at Fukushima-1 has already become a symbol of “before” and “after”. Many experts say that after this calamity any work of art in the genre of catastrophe would be associated with the Japanese disaster one way or another.
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