Introduction: The measures of waves

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The aftershocks of the spring of 2011 in Japan led the nation into a paralysis of futureshock. But as the aftershocks continued and news of more radiation seeped out of the cracks in the tightly sealed industrial-political power generator, it became clear that the idea that the earthquake has brought a new reality to Japan must itself be resisted. Indeed what is now evident is that little has changed, despite renewed urgency to respond.Although the waves of disaster in Japan unfolding from 11 March caught everyone off guard, in some significant ways Japan was already prepared. Such preparedness can be read into Japan's long history of dealing with disasters, twenty years of economic stagnation and the growing prevalence of mysticism and eschatology in pop culture in the wake of the Kobe earthquake and Aum Shinrikyō attacks on the Tokyo subway. So, rather than a rupture, an anomalous event, the series of catastrophes of the spring 2011 that appeared as if out of the blue could be narrativized in real time through social media and connected to historical and social contingencies and continuities.Rather than mourning the passing of some Japan that may never have existed or may already have passed away some time in the early 1990s, 11 March should be the occasion for reflection on the past, action in the present and taking stock for the future. Fighting the tendency to be stunned into complacency, this special issue reflects on the past and future amid the aftershocks radiating from Fukushima and post-earthquake Japan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-305
Number of pages9
JournalJapan Forum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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