Crisis in Japan: Public Responses, Private Responses

Audience members at a Melbourne forum on the crisis in Japan hosted by Asialink, Asia Society AustralAsia Centre, and the University of Melbourne on April 12, 2011.

MELBOURNE, April 12, 2011 – More than 120 people took part in an often emotional forum exploring the contrasting public and private responses to Japan’s recent earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear crisis.

Associate Professor Carolyn Stevens, former Convenor of Japanese, cultural anthropologist and author of Japanese Popular Music: culture, authenticity, and power, explored how the recent events have affected attitudes toward technology in Japan, challenging the widespread and longstanding Japanese belief in progress. She linked the recent crisis to a seemingly endless chain of natural disasters littered throughout Japanese history and described a national fascination with the notion of disaster and apocalypse.

Dr. Ikuko Nakane, Senior Lecturer and Convenor of the Japanese Program at the University of Melbourne, provided reports from on-the-ground survivors of the tragedy, offering an insight into the experiences of some of those individuals who have been affected by both the earthquake and the nuclear crisis, and how people of different generations and regional affiliations have struggled to react to this living nightmare.

Dr. Claire Maree, a long-time Japanese resident and recently appointed Lecturer in Japanese at the University of Melbourne's Asia Institute, spoke of her personal connection to the disaster, and how information communication technologies facilitated valuable interactions across thousands of kilometres. She also highlighted reactions to the event from some of Japan's minority communities.

The event was moderated by Adam Broinowski, Japan scholar and Program Manager, Asialink Performing Arts and Arts Management.