Sunday, March 13, 2011

Post-Sendai Earthquake Japan

A friend recently asked something to the effect of "What does the recent Sendai Earthquake entail?", a good question.

Japan gets better. But I also imagine that the earthquake may unleash whatever latent anxiety, disillusionment, and frustration gripping modern Japanese. Disasters unite people for better or for worse.

The rebuilding process may very well galvanize Japanese. Among other things, rebuilding means new jobs, a reinvigorated spirit of community, and a clearly defined "real" goal to work towards (a better Japan): all of which proves panacea to an existential funk because busy, needed, and involved people do not have time to worry about their life purpose or meaning. In short, the rebuilding process may actually help Japanese recenter themselves and reorient towards what they truly value in life.

But rebuilding may also usher in popular resentment: that this earthquake literally snapped the popular psyche. Latent grumbling issues like political reform, economic downturn, and societal stress all suddenly find voice in swaths of hitherto just mentally/spiritually displaced Japanese. This anticipates one of two scenarios that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. First, final physical disconnect may cause Japanese to rally around their government leaders and scapegoat historical outliers like opposition politicians, social minorities, and foreigners. Second, final physical disconnect may compel Japanese to intensely scrutinize their prevailing political culture and social culture. Gnashing of teeth defines both scenarios.

The aforementioned sounds all gloom, doom, and slippery slope sure; but the possibility palpably remains.


  1. I've never read the word "panacea" in a blog before, kudos to you! So what is it like? When will you start teaching? When will you post pictures??

  2. Also, I feel really really dumb. I only just figured out why you would list your occupation as "Alt". I was trying to figure out who your main was :P