Cleveland: Contemplating COVID in Japan

Special Issue: Pandemic Asia. 2020 July.
The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 18 | Issue 14 | Number 13 | Article ID 5427 | Jul 11, 2020
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus. 

Contemplating COVID in Japan

Kyle Cleveland

The Tōhoku disasters of March 11, 2011 were unique in human history: a 9.0 earthquake (the largest ever recorded in Japan), a tsunami that peaked at 40 meters, devastating the coastline of northeastern Japan, and 3 nuclear reactors in meltdown. The unlikely convergence of these 3 events seemed to represent the ultimate Black Swan, a disaster whose scope and complexity was beyond imagining. Nearly a decade after the 3.11 Tohoku disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged to stand alongside Fukushima as the most significant crises of the modern era. This paper compares the Fukushima nuclear crisis to the viral pandemic, discussing how political dysfunction has contributed to the ambiguity associated with perceived risk in these culture transforming events.

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