Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo
Ten years has passed since the Great Earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku in the northeast of Japan, which occurred on March 11, 2011 and was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan. The unprecedented scale of the power released by the earthquake, tremendous Tsunami triggered by it and the meltdowns caused by it in the complex of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant claimed around 20 thousand deaths. Tens of thousand’s people are still living in dismay and trauma.
This earthquake was the greatest national tragedy for Japanese, only comparable with the defeat in the World War II. The accident at the nuclear reactor was inevitably associated with the traumatic memory of the Atomic Bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The year 2011 was exceptional one in many regions of the world. For the Middle East, that was the year of the political earthquake of the “Arab Spring” which threw the entire region into a turmoil and shook the foundations of regimes one after another. The aftermath of which still smolders all across the region.
In Japan, the past decade has been recognized as the “After the Earthquake” or “After the Disaster” era when a large part of the national resources have been paid for the restoration effort. People’s attentions have been focused on the area hit hard by the Tsunami and the nuclear accident.
In both Japan and in the Arab World, problems which were eminent at that time are still there, unsolved.
Nevertheless, the caravan goes on. Time heals the memory. Even if it did not heal anything, new life sprout and new generations come.
It seems, in the Middle East, a new generation of youths is coming to the fore. There is divergence between those who do not have a clear memory of the uprisings and collapses of regimes, and those who have not known lives other than under the war and devastation.
In the end, human beings might not be able to overcome anything by themselves.
Only generational changes could do it, replacing old with new. That may be the only force behind the history. It might also be said that only the next crisis could replace the trauma of the old crisis, as we might find ourselves preoccupied with the COVID-19 disaster and seeking for the “After COVID-19” era, forgetting previous concerns such as unending conflicts and refugees, even though they are still there.