Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
The March 11th Great East Japan Earthquake was not the next Big One that Tokyo has been fearing since 1923. Its epicenter was too far away, and it involved movement of a completely different tectonic fault system. So we still have complete and utter disaster to look forward to in this crowded metropolis. I wonder, then, if this might not be a good time to revive consideration of moving the capital city, or at least some Cabinet Ministry headquarters to alternate locations outside the capital as was much debated in the 1990s before being rejected. So much of the Japanese economy is centered in Tokyo, and the city is such a major player in global finance that a major quake closer to the city - beneath Sagami Bay, for example - would make the disaster we are currently witnessing in Tohoku pale by comparison.
Advantage might also be taken at this time to shake up the old way of business - like the method of granting fisheries licenses to professional fishers; the way that the electricity industry is regulated; the fundamental model of Japanese capitalism, and more.
The Great East Japan Earthquake is a crisis for Japan, but it could also be an opportunity - call it a “crisitunity.”
Published on Thursday, April 7, 2011 as “Opportunity to decentralize Tokyo.”
This is an idea that was repeated in the Sunday, April 24, 2001 page 9 timeout article“Decentralizing Tokyo may save the nation” by Philip Brasor. Next, the topic was broached once more on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 in the page 3 story “Kansai bids to bed ‘backup capital’” by staff writer Eric Johnston.
Then on Tuesday, June 14th came the page three story “Osaka mayor to Tokyo: It’s time to spread risk” on exactly this same topic, advocating exactly what was rejected in the late-1990s. Only now the call to decentralize came from a higher public figure than ever before, the mayor of Osaka.