Juku as Engines of Post-Disaster Recovery?

My geography colleague, friend, and predecessor as director of the Centre for Japanese Research at UBC, David Edgington, has put together a group of researchers at UBC who will conduct research on post-disaster recover in Tohoku leading up to a March 2012 workshop. Under David’s leadership, we have received a grant from the Japan Foundation under its “Critical Issues Emanating from Japan’s March 11th Disasters” funding envelope.

Our group includes David, the Institute ‘s Stephanie Chang, and Journalism student Jamie Williams.

Given my experience in Fukushima and Miyagi this summer, naturally my main interest in the post-disaster situation in Tohoku involves education.

Thus I am planning a trip to Japan in January and hope to spend about a week on Tohoku’s coast. I’m hoping to meet juku operators there who have re-opened their juku, and also others who have not done so.

Why talk to juku operators? Well, juku are a business with virtually no capital needs other than a room or building. No machinery, no fridges, no subscriptions to pay. Even in a post-disaster situation – as long as some buildings remain and a juku operator has access to them -, a juku could reopen very quickly after a disaster.

The reopening of various public facilities was seen as a significant milestone in many Tohoku communities, whether it was the return to normal train schedules or the closing of emergency shelters. Can a service industry with low capital needs serve as an anchor of social and economic recovery?

The complicating factor for the Tohoku coast (as opposed to Sendai, for example) is that many of the coastal communities were already facing a social and economic decline before the Tsunami struck. As  many people perished in coastal communities and many people who survived left the area, especially in greater proximity to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the potential customer base for supplementary education services may have disappeared. Remaining inhabitants may also not have the funds to pay for juku while juku operators are unlikely to be in a business position to offer significant discounts. While conventional schools may be receiving a variety of donations and other support (possibly even from here in BC, see an Natural Resources Canada announcement to this effect), there is unlikely to be very much support for for-profit juku and their customers.

The social decline certainly extended to the supplementary education industry as well, as I have observed in Shimane Prefecture where the de-industrialization and de-population dynamic was comparable to pre-3/11 Tohoku.

Looking for contacts in Affected Areas of Tohoku

If you know anyone who operated a juku pre-3/11 in Sendai or in coastal communities, I would be very grateful if you could put me in touch with such people, whether they have re-opened their businesses (if they were directly, i.e. physically affected by the Tsunami or not), or not. julian{dot}dierkes|at|ubc(dot)ca

One Response to Juku as Engines of Post-Disaster Recovery?

  1. Pingback: Reflecting on Tohoku Trip | Jukupedia • Shadowing Education • 塾ペディア

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>