How to foster national resilience during a crisis

Tokyo will probably face a massive earthquake in the next 30 years

dragon twist
A painting of the moment a fire tornado — sometimes called a dragon twist — killed tens of thousands of people in Tokyo in 1923.(Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve experienced a few of these alerts in the past few years — and thankfully it’s always been the alert itself that’s the greatest shock.

It can ring out over loudspeakers on train platforms and interrupt radio stations.

But living with this risk is a reality of life in Japan, which lies on the Pacific ring of fire, an incredibly seismically active area. The country occupies the intersection of four tectonic plates. The result has been events of unimaginable horror and carnage.

The Meiji-Sanriku earthquake of 1896 was barely felt by the residents along the coast of Tohoku, but moments later a huge tsunami the size of an 11-storey building roared in. And in 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake is believed to have shook Tokyo and Yokohama for as long as 10 minutes…


How to foster national resilience during a crisis

Resilience means overcoming adversity by successfully adapting to negative life events, trauma, stress, or risk. At the individual level, people who are resilient draw on their own internal resources and aptitudes, and on external supports such as mutual aid networks.

Community resilience refers to cultural strengths that insulate members from external attacks. Such attacks might come in the form of natural disasters, severe economic losses, or social oppression. Researchers who are studying resilience within a socially oppressive environment are really studying not the impact of one traumatic event but the impact of a whole constellation of events. And their focus is apt to be on entire communities in their ability to bounce back from the shattering experience.

The adversity or hardship has to end for there to be resilience In a people who have lived through long-term adversity. Psychological and social qualities alone are not sufficient to lead a people into a state of well-being. The oppressive environment must change so that people can achieve their potential…


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