Published: July 2, 2012

Tohoku Earthquake Japan 3.11On Friday, April 13, the Center for Asian Studies hosted “Aftershock: Japan One Year after the Tohoku Earthquake,” a panel discussion addressing the aftermath of the Japanese earth

quake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011 and the ongoing recovery efforts occurring on the ground from a variety of perspectives.

Approximately 50 faculty members, students, and members of the Denver-Boulder community attended the event to learn more about life in northeastern Japan today, after the media has moved on to other more immediate stories.

The event began with an overview of community crisis recovery practices provided by Bruce Goldstein, an Associate Professor of Planning and Design at the University of Colorado Denver, in his talk, “Collaborative Resilience to Catastrophe.”

His presentation was followed by Levi Jacobs, a graduate student in the CU-Boulder Department of Anthropology, speaking on “Life After Deluge: Witnessing 3-11 and Local Clean-up Efforts.” Levi has been involved with Peace Boat, a Japanese NGO providing disaster relief operations around the world, and was able to report on their activities in the Tohoku region since the disaster.

Next, Roger Bilham, a Professor of Geological Sciences at CU-Boulder, addressed lessons learned with regard to nuclear power and how they are, or should be, applied worldwide in “The Hazards of Seismic Understatement and the Hazards of Seismic Truth in a Post Fukushima World: Concerns in India.”  Professor Bilham made a convincing argument that the field of seismology tends to be too conservative, and that governments and other entities are not prepared for more aggressive analysis.

Greg Hanes, the Assistant Vice President of International Marketing with the U.S. Meat Export Federation based in Denver, spoke next and shared his experiences working with the people of the region in “Tohoku: Return to Normalcy?” He reported that the US red meat industry donated approximately $600,000 toward recovery efforts in the region, and they worked with local restaurants and farmers to distribute hot meals to survivors.

The formal remarks concluded with Laurel Rasplica Rodd, CAS Director and a Professor of Japanese, whose talk, “‘because I have/ to go on living’: The Tohoku Earthquake in Poetry," gave the earthquake survivors a voice by sharing translations of moving waka (31-syllable poems) they have written.  Professor Rodd’s presentation helped to remind all in attendance that behind the news stories and the statistics are a people working to overcome the disaster with grace, dignity, and strength.

A number of scholarly publications have come out in recent months dealing with the disaster and its lasting impact on the Japanese government, economy, and people.  For those looking for more information about any aspect of the situation, a resource guide for further reading is available here.