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The March 11 earthquake was not the next Big One that Tokyo has been fearing since the last big one in 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 one day 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 offices to other locations outside the capital as was much debated in the 1990s before the idea was 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 — say, beneath Sagami Bay — would make the disaster we are currently witnessing pale by comparison.

Advantage might also be taken at this time to shake up the old way of business — such as the method of granting fishery licenses to professional fishers, the way the electricity industry is regulated, the fundamental model of Japanese capitalism, and more. The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake is a crisis for Japan, but it could also be an opportunity.

grant piper

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