JUSFC40: Report – Robert Pekkanen Analyzes Effect of 3.11 Disasters on Japan’s Civil Society

February 4, 2016 

In the forty years since it was established in 1975, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) has supported research on timely issues to inform the public about current developments in U.S.-Japan relations. In 2015, JUSFC commissioned a study by Professor Robert Pekkanen at the University of Washington on the role of civil society in Japan in light of the triple disasters on March 11, 2011.

Prof. Pekkanen’s report looks at the effect of the triple disasters on Japan’s civil society over time. It addresses the devastation caused; the consequent outpouring of generosity and support; the role of Japan’s civil society organizations during the crisis; the impact that this had on philanthropy in Japan; and the challenges faced by the organizations in the aftermath of the disasters. “Civil society is a natural area to examine for change after the triple disasters,” Prof. Pekkanen writes. “…civil society organizations were on the front lines in disaster relief, and also integral in channeling the massive outpouring of support for the Tohoku region in particular and Japan more generally. We have reason to believe that natural disasters can produce change in civil society… a massive disaster brings an unprecedented civil society response, leading to a short term influx of resources (volunteers, funding)…and prodding new regulations by the government intended to spur the further development of civil society.”  The entire report may be found here.