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Please see below for the latest set of presentation abstracts for ANJeL's upcoming conference on "Socio-legal Norms in Preventing and Managing Disasters in Japan: Asia-Pacific and Interdisciplinary Perspectives", to be presented on 1-2 March 2012. The full collection of abstracts are now available on this blog, with previous abstracts to be found at the following posts:
Abstracts 1
Abstracts 2
Abstracts 3
Abstracts 4

This conference will compare the preparedness for large-scale disasters and subsequent responses in Japan, focusing on the earthquake and tsunami that devastated north-east Japan on 11 March 2011 and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant radiation leaks.

For more information and registrations please visit http://sydney.edu.au/news/law/457.html?eventcategoryid=39&eventid=9063.

[18] International Law and Liability for Nuclear Disasters
(Professor Gillian Triggs, Dean of Law, University of Sydney)

The development of International Law owes much to catastrophes. The global community typically agrees upon multilateral legal strategies only once a disaster has occurred and states are slow to agree upon proactive problem solving. The meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986 is the preeminent example of 'disaster' driven law-making. The Chernobyl accident stimulated a rapid international consensus to increase liability and compensation for trans-national damage under the Paris Convention of 1960. The catastrophic human and environmental consequences of Chernobyl also led to a strengthening of the largely dormant Vienna Convention of 1963 and the adoption of a Joint Protocol to link the Vienna Convention with the Paris Convention. The tsunami and consequent disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in 2011 has similarly prompted renewed efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency to strengthen nuclear safety, emergency preparedness and protection from radiation. A new Action Plan was agreed in June 2011 that addresses twelve aspects of safety, including strengthening the peer review process by Member states of the safety of nuclear power plants in other Member states.

A signal feature of international agreements on nuclear safety is that they depend upon each Member State to implement their obligations through the enactment of national legislation. In short, the effectiveness of the international nuclear regime depends on adoption of the safety standards within domestic laws. It is for this reason, unsurprising that State liability regimes should vary considerably in their provisions for liability and compensation. These regimes are particularly disparate in respect of their inadequate total amounts for compensation. The dimension of the potential losses arising from a nuclear accident is illustrated by the Chernobyl accident, the costs of which are estimated by Belarus to be US$235 billion. Japan is one of a small group of States (Canada, South Africa and South Korea) that is party to neither the Paris nor the Vienna Conventions and has enacted domestic legislation to implement its international nuclear obligations. While Japan amended its laws on Compensation for Nuclear Damage and on Contracts for Liability Insurance for Nuclear Damage, doubling the ‘financial security amount’ to be provided by operators to about US$1.2billion, this sum is trivial relative to the probable economic losses.

This paper briefly examines the legal aspects of liability for nuclear damage that arise under current international law and considers what lessons can be learnt from the Fukushima disaster. It is suggested that a more uniform, certain and effective global nuclear liability regime could be achieved by encouraging wider State accession to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation. It is also proposed that the US Price-Anderson Act of 1957 , that provides a no-fault system with US$12billion coverage by insurance and industry funds, might be a useful model for any future international regime.

[19] Social Capital's Role in Disaster Recovery: A Comparative Perspective
(Professor Daniel Aldrich, Purdue University)

Despite the regularity of disasters, social science has only begun to generate replicable knowledge about the factors which facilitate post-crisis recovery. Using data from disasters in Japan, India, and the United States, I show that social networks - more than socioeconomic status, damage from the event, or other regularly cited factors - work as the critical engine in post-crisis recovery.

[20] Considering the Most Vulnerable: The Kaizen of Legal Reform following the 3/11 Disasters in Japan
(Professor Kent Anderson, Adelaide University/ANU)

The 11 March 2011 disasters in Japan consisted of three separate and different disasters: 9.0 earthquake, 10 metre tsunami, and nuclear crisis at Fukushima. This talk analyses each disaster through crisis response theory to consider the preparation, response and rebuilding options. It pays particular attention to the imbalanced demographic impact of the disasters in raising how crisis response addresses society's most vulnerable citizens. Cautious of commentators' need to 'make sense' of the disasters, it concludes by encouraging modest legal reform response more in line with 'kaizen' (refinement) rather than 'kaikaku' (reform).

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Japanese Law in Asia-Pacific Socio-Economic Context