A brief about a resilient Japan
Japan, my true definition of Resilience Beyond!
It was 2011, March, and a gigantic shake originating at several depths below ground took Japan by surprise. Within a few seconds, almost everyone in Japan knew this was a big one. It was to become Japan`s first most disastrous encounter in the 21st century. History has made it clear that Japan is indeed a birth place of similar events, courtesy mostly of its geographical location and topographical features. These events have always put Japan on its toes, anticipating and preparing for any possible occurrence of similar events. This situation has been the mother of several technologies that Japan shares with the greater world. Most of the infrastructure in Japan takes into consideration the possible effect of earthquake occurrence, straight from a single person`s apartment/room to the safety measures embed within the Shinkansen system. By the way, for me the Shinkansen mesmerizes me the most. As a result of these disasters, every Japanese person is taught right from childhood, what is at stake. This is extended to visitors of Japan; they are made aware of all emergency measures available and what course of action to take in case of disaster. When I came to Japan at the beginning of 2012, it was just one year after the Great East Japan earthquake, one that left over 30,000 dead and so much destroyed beyond repair. Secondary effects are still in play, for example the Fukushima incident. The earthquake was manageable, at least structurally; the resulting tsunami too could have been manageable, had it not been for the relative safety counter measures promised (such as dykes and sea defense walls). Actually to a reasonable extent, it was managed; there was a showcase of success of the inbuilt Japanese resilience. An outstanding example was later termed as the Kamaishi miracle, a 99% successful evacuation of school students. This example is probably similar to all other efforts inbuilt within the Japanese way of living – it is more of a forewarned, forearmed scenario. This extent of society resilience has been tested; areas where the Kamaishi example wasn`t practiced showed different results. This too is meaningful to those who learn from their past. The chains of actions that were birthed from the March 11 event will continue to grow Japan into one of the leading resilient societies of the modern world. It is no doubt that she will continue advancing in technologies that seek to protect it from such disasters. In one way, it provides lessons to the rest of the world. The handling of the Fukushima incident – a first of its kind, will be of great learning value to the rest of the world. It`s not only Fukushima, but several attributes of Japanese resilience have been exported to several countries around the world. We all agree that Japan is among the leading technology giants of the world, this too is part of its form of resilience. When you dig deeper into other systems of Japan, the family set-up, schools, and other social settings, you shall find that this culture of resilience is built into the blood lines of almost everyone.
I don`t disagree that Japan is recently headed for tougher times, of a declining and aging population, which directly impact on the economy, and several internationally induced pressures; I just believe that the Japan I know will still stand the test of time. It`s solutions will still come out as outstanding learning examples to the rest of the developed world. Winning the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will for example be a possible economic stimulus that shall give Japan with a possible come back to the world stage. Several other targeted propositions to revive the more than a decade long economic stagnation are already under implementation. With new players in place, so are new challenges, something which requires robust solutions especially in the 21st century. The resilience that brought Japan thus far will continue to push it through times to come. For a country of about 127 million occupants, on a land that is 30% occupied and seemingly cut off from the world, it shouldn’t be hard to assume number one position on the list of most resilient nations. Efforts for internationalization, of going beyond the borders of Japan have continued to be proposed by several individuals, both Japanese and non-Japanese; the consequences of which are so far causing fear among the indigenous Japanese populace. For a country whose GDP is 90% dependent on its internal consumption, and owns the position of the third largest economy, makes worrying about external influences a good cause. Of course the 21st century presents several challenges that require interdependence and call for globalization, and probably Japan will be no exception to this as well, lest it gets off the list of the most resilient nations. It is notable that significant efforts are already in place by Japan to study the various options that can push it back to the position she once cherished. Learning from the past, I have no doubt she will carefully weigh out the best alternatives. That`s the Japan I know and have come to love.