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Sunday, May 29, 2011

EDITORIAL

Postdisaster reading

Unsurprisingly, Japanese readers are seeking books about the March 11 disaster and about how to overcome it spiritually. In bookstores now can be found many works of reportage — for example, volumes in which major newspapers have reproduced their pages devoted to the disaster.

Other publishers have made use of electronic media, as in Misuzu Shobo's digital edition of an out-of-print record by a psychiatrist of his experiences after the Kobe earthquake.

Especially popular since the disaster have been two disparate works, "Sanriku kaigan ootsunami" (Large tsunami that have hit the Sanriku coastal area) by Akira Yoshimura, and "One Piece: Strong Words" by Eiichiro Oda.

Yoshimura, a historical novelist who died in 2006, published this work in 1970, gathering together the words of those who experienced different tsunami in the Sanriku region in 1896, 1933 and 1960, in what he called a "documentary novel" (kiroku shosetsu). "Strong Words," on the other hand, is a collection in two volumes of stirring dialogue from the wildly popular manga "One Piece," which was serialized for 14 years from 1997 in Shonen Jump. It is the story of the adventures of a band of pirates searching for treasure, featuring derring-do and comradeship. The inspiring words are collected into sections such as "Embarking on a Journey," "Fight," "Love" and "Human Bonds."

In addition, the very popular journalist Akira Ikegami has already published two earthquake-related works: (1) a special volume on the earthquake and Fukushima nuclear plant crisis in his easy-to-read series "So datta no ka! Ikegami Akira no manaberu news" (I see now! The news as told by Ikegami Akira), and (2) "Sakiokuri dekinai Nippon" (Japan cannot afford to put things off anymore).

In the latter he argues that Japan is at an impasse in various areas, as its leaders have avoided acting on troublesome economic, political and social problems for far too long. In order to recover from the current disaster, decisions can no longer be put off in such areas as opening up to the world, reforming agriculture and competing globally.

Unfortunately the response to the disaster so far and the current petty maneuverings by political parties do not afford much hope of bold, decisive action by Japan's leadership class anytime soon.



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