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A second set of presentation titles, abstracts and (links to) bios for the conference on “Socio-legal Norms in Preventing and Managing Disasters in Japan: Asia-Pacific and Interdisciplinary Perspectives” is now available below. Those of [1] Luke Nottage (Sydney Law School) and [2] Julius Weitzdoerfer (MPI Hamburg), further analysing Japan’s regulatory framework and responses to the “3-11” disasters from a socio-legal perspective, have already been uploaded on this blog here. Postings related to the presentation by Kent Anderson (ANU/Adelaide), on the demographics of the disasters and some subsequent surprising continuities, can be found on the (highly recommended) East Asia Forum blog.

The conference registration webpage and PDF flyer are also now available here. There are various discounts (eg half price for ‘early-birds’, ANJeL and AJS-NSW members, full-time academics and students; free for staff of the sponsoring/participating organisations) and the final session is gratis and open to the public. There are also links to the websites of the Japan Red Cross and Consulate-General of Japan, which are welcoming donations for the massive and ongoing disaster relief in East Japan. Please spread the word among your friends and colleagues!

[3] “The future of 3.11: the Tôhoku disaster in Japanese science fiction”
(Dr Rebecca Suter, University of Sydney Dept of Japanese Studies)

Since its inception, Japanese science fiction has been deeply informed by what critic Susan Napier has described as the “imagination of disaster.” Natural disasters, particularly earthquakes and tsunami, as well as nuclear warfare and nuclear incidents, have featured prominently in the genre throughout the postwar era.
In times of crisis, popular media often performs an important role in offering a way to overcome the trauma of the past, the hardships of a dreary present, and the anxiety towards an uncertain future. In 1950s Japan, comics like Osamu Tezuka’s Tetsuwan Atomu (Mighty Atom, known to the English-speaking audience as Astro Boy, 1952), featuring a nuclear-powered boy robot, and movies like Honda Ishirô’s Gojira (Godzilla, 1954), centering on a giant radioactive dinosaur’s attacks on Japan, helped the Japanese people heal from the psychological scars of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while also proposing a critical reflection on the potential dangers of nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

Japanese science fiction has also often been uncannily prophetic. Komatsu Sakyô’s Nihon chinbotsu (Japan Sinks, 1973), intended as a metaphorical commentary on the oil shocks of the 1970s and the ensuing economic panic, presented a picture of the government’s and public’s reactions to an enormous earthquake and tsunami that bears striking similarities with the response to the great earthquakes of 1995 and 2011.

In my paper, I will investigate both the way in which Japanese science fiction authors and directors have “predicted” the events of 3.11, and their response to the disaster in the first months after the event, in works of fiction as well as in journal essays and newspaper and blog commentaries. I will focus in particular on authors Sakyô Komatsu, Arai Motoko, and Oshii Mamoru, as well as science fiction critics Tatsumi Takayuki and Kasai Kiyoshi.

[4] “Anti-nuclear activism in Japanese literature”
(Dr Yasuko Claremont, University of Sydney Dept of Japanese Studies)

Japan has again suffered the calamity of atomic radiation being inflicted on its citizens, in the air, the earth, cities, rivers, and the surrounding sea. In this paper two books by Japanese authors are discussed, each dealing with the theme of atomic radiation: Hiroshima Notes, by Ôe Kenzaburô, and Black Rain by Ibuse Masuji.
The argument of this paper is that art (in this case Japanese literature) does not act as a catalyst instigating reform, but rather that the power of art lies in its ability to reach deeply into human emotions and express them –in this case, the collective mood of the Japanese population concerning what has been done to them.

[5] “Rescuing the Fukushima Victims and Rescuing TEPCO: A Legal and Political Analysis”
(A/Prof Hatsuru Morita, Tohoku University Law School)
The accident of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after the March 11 earthquake in Japan has caused enormous radiation contamination in the east part of Japan and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc.), which is operating the plant, is now liable for at minimum trillions of yens of damages as a tortfeasor. The amount of damages is so large that it is expected TEPCO by itself cannot afford it. Therefore other stake holders, such as TEPCO clients, financial institutions, and tax payers (via the national government), need to provide the necessary fund for the victims. I analyze the present situation of TEPCO and the victims both from legal perspective and from political perspective. First I argue what is the most desirable solution to indemnify the TEPCO's burden from legal perspective. Then the most desirable solution is compared with the actual one chosen by the Japanese government. Finally, the reason why the actual solution has deviated from the most desirable one is discussed from political perspective.

[6] “Does Law have a Heart? A Comparison of Australian and Japanese Law in Post-Disaster Recovery”
(A/Prof Leon Wolff and Ms Kylie Fletcher-Johnstone*, Bond University Law School)

Less than a year has passed since floods placed 70% of the state of Queensland under water and the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear fallout devastated north-eastern Japan. This paper compares how Australia and Japan have invoked law in response to their separate disasters. Typically, in large-scale tragedies, law is invoked to allocate blame, determine entitlement and amount of compensation and regulate future conduct. Unsurprisingly, this formed a significant element of the Australian and Japanese legal responses. However, this paper looks at the deeper – and less well-understood – therapeutic role of law in community healing, drawing on the Floods Inquiry in Queensland and the compensation offer to Fukushima victims in Japan. The paper questions whether law is purely a rational device for designing ex-ante regulation and achieving ex-post justice. Or does it – can it – have a heart?

* Kylie Fletcher-Johnson is a senior teaching fellow at Bond University. Kylie has undergraduate degrees in nursing and law and a postgraduate degree in law. After almost 10 years working in legal practice, Kylie moved into an academic role nearly 4 years ago. Kylie's teaching and research expertise lies in contract law and energy, mining and natural resources law.

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