Scholars Discuss Recovery in Japan

Crisis in Japan: The Way Forward
Casra B. Labelle

Kotaro Tamura, research associate in Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University, speaks about “the way forward” for Japan after the recent crisis.

Professors and scholars from various fields convened yesterday in the crowded Tsai Auditorium to discuss the economic and social recovery prospects for Japan.

The event, titled “Crisis in Japan: the Way Forward,” focused on long-term reconstruction strategies in response to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan about two weeks ago.

“Japan is moving out of the initial phase of emergency response,” said Harvard School of Public Health Professor Michael R. Reich, pointing out that coverage of the disaster is “no longer on the front page of The Times.”

Reich addressed possible social risks of the disaster, which could include Japanese citizenry losing trust in their government.

Kotaro Tamura, former Japanese Parliamentary Secretary for Fiscal and Economic Policy and for Financial Affairs offered solutions to concerns about the impact of the disaster on the Japanese economy, including the potentially damaging effect of reduced electric power and potential decreases in overall Japanese spending.

The goal of the event was to move beyond “sensationalist” news coverage and instead focus on an objective analysis of the disaster’s long-term impact, said event organizer Shinju Fujihira, associate director of the US-Japan Relations Program at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

William M. Nehring, program coordinator for the program on US-Japan Relations, said that “a wide variety of voices and experiences were represented” at the event.

Doctoral student Naoko Miake, who has attended recent events at Harvard and MIT about the disaster in Japan, said she was impressed by the “interesting combination of experts” present in the panel, noting that it was good to hear from panelists “with hands-on knowledge of issues.”

But event attendee and Brandeis University student Ryo Morimoto said that he had expected more from the panelists.

“A lot was nothing new,” Morimoto said. “I was hoping for more inside information but at the same time I thought it was an interesting discussion.”

“The panel was incredibly informative,” said Midori Takasaki ’14, who was collecting donations for the student group Harvard for Japan following the event.

“It was interesting hearing [the perspectives of] both American and Japanese representatives,” he said.

Panelists also included Takeshi Hikihara, Boston Consul General for Japan, and Yoji Koda, Senior Fellow at the Harvard University Asia Center.

The event was part of the Harvard for Japan week, a week-long series of fundraising and informational events regarding the Japanese disaster.