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As we enter into a new year in which last year’s greatest event is still, dreadfully, uppermost in the mind of everyone in Japan, let’s pause to think hard about the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, the tsunami it triggered, and the release into the environment of radioactive substances from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Since then, Japanese society has turned its attention — in the government at all levels, the media, educational institutions, artistic fields — to a single question: How can the Japanese people rediscover the sense of accomplishment and hope that sustained them for decades following the end of World War II in 1945?

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