Will the crisis create a new Japan?

From The Washington Post:

Japan On Sept. 1, 1923, a 7.9-magnitude temblor struck Tokyo. More than 100,000 people lost their lives and more than 3 million were left homeless in the Great Kanto Earthquake. Fueled by rumors that ethnic Koreans were poisoning water wells, mobs killed thousands of Koreans in the days that followed. The Japanese government declared martial law, but the civilian authorities’ inability to deal with the disaster contributed to an eventual military takeover. Seventy-one years later, on Jan. 17, 1995, Kobe was hit by a 6.9-magnitude quake. The Great Hanshin Earthquake killed 6,400 people. Damage was estimated at more than $100 billion, or 2.5 percent of Japanese national income — similar to current estimates of the toll of last week’s 9.0-magnitude temblor in the Tohoku region of northern Japan. Yet, within 18 months, economic activity in Kobe had reached 98 percent of its pre-quake level. A state-of-the-art offshore port facility was built, housing was modernized — and a scruffy port city became an international showpiece. It is tempting to regard the different responses to these tragedies as proof that a more advanced society will respond more constructively to adversity. The simpler truth is that disasters can quickly transform a nation — for better, or for worse.

Which way will Japan go?

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated a society that, for all its wealth, was stuck in a rut. Over the past two decades, Japan’s economic growth averaged an anemic 1 percent a year. Politically, the country was rudderless. The Liberal Democratic Party, which had governed almost continuously since the end of the U.S. military occupation following World War II, had finally worn out its welcome. And the novice Democratic Party of Japan, which had assumed power in 2009, was flailing.

More here.