3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan Richard J. Samuels, Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2013, xv + 274 pp, US$29.95 (Hardback), ISBN 9780801452000

Date01 November 2018
Published date01 November 2018
By Richard J. Samuels
Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2013, xv + 274 pp, US$29.95
(Hardback), ISBN 9780801452000
Natural disaster as a major adverse event resulting from geologic
processes of the earth has received an enhanced scholarly attention,
particularly when a number of the most recent lifethreatening
calamities including earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, and
tornadoes have imperiled the 21st century's global security. It is quite
evident that Asia is the most disasterafflicted area across the world,
and this region has borne the brunt of increasing damages from these
uncontrollable catastrophes since 1980s. If we gaze at the massive
exposure to natural disasters, Asian cities are becoming more and more
vulnerable to heavily monstrous and acutely grievous incidents, and
especially, the South Asian metropolises are most at risk of the natural
disasters due to various causes such as deficiency of technological
infrastructure, abysmal planning, chronic poverty, population explo-
sion, geographical positioning, and climate change. Visibly also, climate
disasters are on the rise, and around 70% of disasters are now climate
related, up from around 50% from two decades ago. Moreover,
although the cost of responding to disasters has increased tenfold
between 1992 and 2008, it is alarming that the frequently occurred
natural disasters unfortunately claim tens of thousands of human lives
and cost billions of dollars every year even in this prosperous region's
highly urbanized and ecofriendly cities. It is a bleak reminder that
natural disasters can be a constant threat to human security even in
an era of highly modern technologies and nearly instant communica-
tions we live. Very briefly, climate change because of its severe impact
on natural disasters is now the topmost prioritized global issue of the
United Nations (UN). Owing to this volume's so relevancy and urgency
from such a disciplinary background, I have actually selected it for
I have chosen this singleauthored publication (entitled 3.11:
Disaster and Change in Japan) from among many more stacks of books
at a library in a Japanbased research institution, because it has riveted
my attention intently and uncommonly for some other appropriate
justifications. First of all, the academic expertise and interest of the
volume's author (Richard Samuels) and myself as a reviewer are similar.
Granted that this globally notable Japanologist is the founding director
of the Japan Program and director of the Center for International
Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in America,
I hold the positions of head at the Program on New & Global Japan
Studies and director at the Division of Asian & World Affairs of the
Asia Pacific Institute for Global Studies (APIGS), a Bangladeshbased
newly inaugurated think tank for which I am also the sole founder
and creator. Besides, I was awarded an 2008 outstanding award
(named after Yasuhiro Nakasone, one of the most influential prime
ministers in postmodern Japan) sponsored by the Institute for Interna-
tional Policy Studies (IIPS) in Tokyo that pursues concurrent research
projects covering global strategic, political, economic, and sustainabil-
ity issues, admitting that this Ford international professor was con-
ferred an imperial decoration, the Order of the Rising Sun(Gold
and Silver Star) by the emperor of Japan and the Japanese government
in 2011. As his available profile also claims the fact, he is one of the
only three scholars (Japanese or foreign) to have produced more than
one scholarly monograph recognized by the Nippon Foundation as
one of the top one hundred books for understanding contemporary
Japan. However, when his book received the prize from the Masayoshi
Ohira Memorial Foundation in 1988, it is an intriguing happening that
my Pacific Basin research project was supported from this same grant
maker established in Tokyo in the honor of a later Japanese premier.
Both of our academic distinctions with the matching cases are
purveyed, just because not only the readers (both talented and novice)
but also a few truly distinctive academic journals' editors often ask
whoassesses the quality of a book as well as the ability of its creator.
Above and beyond, I have already contributed many wellread
articles in the areas of environmental problems, natural disasters, and
sustainable development to publication outlets with worldwide
reputation. Receiving international funding, I have most recently
accomplished several research projects on the related concerns as well.
Actually, my individual research, titled Japan as the World's Most
Enviable Role Model in Earthquake Management: What Lessons Can
Bangladesh Learn from the March 2011 Mega Disasters?financed
by the Tokyobased Sumitomo Foundation, is directly pertinent to this
publication. For details, Samuels in the Prefacediscloses:
This book was a project of discovery and rediscovery; of
connection and reconnection. It was an unexpected
culmination of a lifetime of research and writing on the
very policy issues most affected by 3.11; my earlier
books on local government, energy policy, the political
economy of technology, military security, and political
leadership all inform this study. Indeed, they converged
on the topic with a force I could not have anticipated.
(p. xiii)
According to him, even his very first publication and edited volume
on political generations helped him think about the task facing the
Received: 22 February 2018 Accepted: 23 February 2018
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1708
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1708.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/pa 1of8

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