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We made history this year. They’ll be writing about 2011 a hundred, maybe a thousand years from now, seeing it more clearly than we can. We’re too close for a proper perspective. We know what it feels like — not yet what it means.

Japan was calm through January and February. The storms were elsewhere: in Brazil (deadly mudslides), in Australia (deadly floods), in New Zealand (deadly earthquake), in Russia (Moscow airport suicide bombing), in Europe (budding debt crisis), throughout the Arab world (massive popular upsurges against long-entrenched dictators). Japan’s hands were full enough, but with lesser matters — a sumo match-fixing scandal, an abysmally unpopular government struggling to pass budget bills, Standard and Poor’s downgrading of the national credit rating for the first time since 2002, and so on.

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