Japan Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

The scale of the disaster caused by the Tsunami in Japan last week must be unprecedented in modern times. It is absolutely chilling.

As a former long term resident of Japan I have been getting most of my fine-grain news from the facebook updates of friends on the ground in Tokyo and in Chiba and Ibaraki prefectures.

An interesting lesson to come out of the disaster is that the only one of my friends in Ibaraki that currently has water supply and electricity is the one with his own solar PV array and his own well.

In a disaster situation the benefits of decentralized systems are abundantly clear. The resilience of decentralized systems should be given a weighting in decision making…resilience can trump efficiency.

I would also like to make a prediction, which is that many of the towns most seriously damaged by the Tsunami will never be properly rebuilt.

Japan’s rural and small town population was already in rapid decline due to their fast aging population. Now with many towns suffering the death of more than half their residents and the horror associated with the location for the survivors, as well as the environmental contamination in the area, who will have the spirit or desire to rebuild?

I believe that with the exception of Sendai, which has sufficient scale to stand alone and has a large area of high ground which was not inundated, there will be no rebuilding worth speaking of anywhere North of Iwaki in coastal Tohoku. Small towns and cities need other small towns and cities around them to survive.

The bulls who are expecting an economic resurgence in Japan on the back of the reconstruction driven building boom will be disappointed.