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Possible Futures for Japan

SSRC-USC Symposium

Experts on political economy, disaster management, and civil rights will discuss the outlook for Japan as the country continues to struggle from the effects of the March 2011 disaster.


The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdowns in March 2011 wreaked widespread destruction and suffering on northeast Japan. More than 50,000 evacuees remain in temporary housing and radioactive waste water is still leaking into the ocean near Fukushima. The disaster brought sweeping political changes and a strange buzzword—“Abenomics”—entered the lexicon. As Japan jousts with China in a dangerous territorial dispute and debates a controversial revision of the 1947 “peace” constitution, a quiet demographic crisis—a rapidly aging population—unfolds and seismologists warn of Big Ones ahead. A research project on Japan brought together 17 social scientists and others to look at the country’s near future. Will national resilience carry the day or will Japan falter economically and turn right politically? Experts on political economy, disaster management, and civil rights will discuss the outlook for Japan.


Saori N. Katada
(Associate Professor, School of International Relations, USC) and

Gene Park (Assistant Professor of Political Science, Loyola Marymount University)
“Fiscal Survival and Financial Revival”

William J. Siembieda
(Professor of City and Regional Planning, California Polytechnic State University)
“Facing Japan’s Mega Disaster Challenges”

Lawrence Repeta
(Professor, School of Law, Meiji University, Tokyo) 
“Constitutional Revision: Turning Back the Clock to the Future”


T. J. Pempel (Jack M. Forcey Professor of Political Science for Study of East Asian Politics, UCB)
Lieba Faier (Associate Professor, Department of Geography, UCLA)


Frank Baldwin (Former SSRC Program Director, Japan)

Co-sponsored by the Social Sciences Research Council (SSRC)/Abe Fellowship, USC Center for International Studies, and the USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture