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UNU-ISP Symposium

Rebuilding after 3/11: Vulnerability and Empowerment


Date: 30 November 2012

Time: 14:00 – 17:30

Location: Elizabeth Rose Hall, UNU Headquarters 5F
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Organizers: UNU-ISP

Languages: English

Contact: Nicholas Turner, UNU-ISP :

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Natural disasters represent ruptures in the functioning of society, both literally and figuratively. These are crises that can cause unfathomable loss and damage to societies. Such catastrophes do not impact people equally, with the most vulnerable individuals and groups almost always suffering disproportionately, leaving them in an even more marginalised position. Within such terrible events there still remains the possibility for beneficial change, however, and a fundamental part of the rebuilding process must be identifying opportunities to reform existing societal structures to build resilience and empower people.

This UNU-ISP symposium considers these issues in the context of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. More than 1.5 years after the “triple disasters” of 11 March 2011, it is now possible to begin taking stock. As Japan goes through the difficult process of rebuilding, it is necessary to identify what vulnerabilities have been created or exacerbated, and what positive developments and improvements there have been. In addition to the many issues related to the earthquake and tsunami, the nuclear crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant has also given rise to a series of difficult questions related to Japan’s future energy policy and the way its democracy functions.

Some of the questions this symposium seeks to consider include:

  • What vulnerabilities have been addressed, and what vulnerabilities remain?
  • How have issues related to gender been addressed in rebuilding from the disasters?
  • What can be done to enable affected people to have a more active role in decisions concerning recovery and rebuilding, and how can communities be empowered?
  • What impact has the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant had on Japanese democracy and politics?
  • How can Japan rebuild in a way that will make it a more resilient society?


To register for this event, please click on the link below and complete the registration form. Registration will be closed when it reaches the capacity.



Welcome and introductory remarks

Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi (Vice-Rector, UNU; Director, UNU-ISP)


Session 1

Chair: Dr. Christopher Hobson (UNU-ISP)

  • Social Capital’s Role in Building Resilience
    Dr. Daniel Aldrich, Purdue University

  • Issues of People in Shelters and Temporary Housing after the 3.11 Great East Japan Earthquake from the Perspective of Gender
    Prof. Akiko Nakajima, Wayo Women’s University

  • The (Re)Construction of Tohoku Communities after the Triple Disasters
    Dr. David Slater, Sophia University


15:45-16:00   Coffee Break
16:00- 17:30

Session 2

Chair: Prof. Paul Bacon, Waseda University

  • Why Fukushima nuclear plant workers are facing discrimination and stigma: mental health consequences following the Fukushima Daiichi accident
    Dr. Jun Shigemura, National Defense Medical College

  • Distributed Power and Incentives in Post-Fukushima Japan
    Prof. Andrew DeWit, Rikkyo University

  • Deliberative Polling about Japanese energy policy
    Prof. Yasunori Sone (Keio University)



Questions and answers


This is the latest in a series of events related to the UNU-ISP project “Human Security and Natural Disasters”. This project examines the relevance and significance of a human security framework in preparing for, reacting to, and understanding the impacts of natural disasters on people.