2016: Japanese Resilience Five Years Later

Fukushima: 2011-03-11  -   2016-03-11
The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Volume 14 | Issue 6 | Number 1, March 15, 2016

Japan’s “National Resilience” and the Legacy of 3-11

Andrew DeWit
3/11 and Japanese Resilience Five Years Later

Five years after Japan's natural and nuclear disasters of March 11, 2011 (3-11), few observers can find a positive legacy among the irradiated ruins. Fukushima rightly remains an icon of the folly of building fragile large-scale power and other lifeline systems in the face of patent threats. Indeed, Japan has become a byword for failure, whether at Fukushima or in its "Abenomics" growth strategy. But in point of fact, 3-11 has made Japan a world leader in building resilience - in critical energy, water, transport and other lifeline infrastructures - against increasingly frequent disasters confronting Japan, the Asia-Pacific and the world. Though little known, even in specialist circles, Japan's deeply institutionalized and well-funded programme of "National Resilience" (kokudo kyoujinka) is far more advanced than its counterpart initiatives in North America, the EU and elsewhere. As we shall see below, Japan's resilience programme, including both public and private sector spending, totaled over JPY 24 trillion (USD 210 billion) in 2013 and is projected to grow dramatically by 2020. Moreover, Japan's disaster resilience centres on renewable energy, storage and efficiency, and has become a core element of Abenomics.
Japan's National Resilience

First, let us present the evidence. The governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politicians and disaster-resilience technocrats in the Cabinet Secretariat's National Resilience Council (hereafter, NRC)1, the Association for Resilience Japan (hereafter, ARJ)2, and other new institutions are building an economic paradigm based on National Resilience. As part of the resilience project, the NRC undertook a survey of private-sector firms' current and projected spending in late 2015. The survey determined that private-sector spending on resilience was about JPY 11.9 trillion (USD 105 billion) in 2013. That total can be broken down into "core" market segments (goods and services) that are directly focused on resilience, and "related" market segments (again, goods and services) that address aspects of resilience. The survey found that the core markets totaled roughly JPY 8 trillion (USD 71 billion) and the related markets a further JPY 4 trillion (USD 35 billion). (Note that as of this writing, JPY 1 trillion=USD 8.78 billion.) ....

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