Category Archives: Japan

Any posts on Japan in general

Guest Post: Juku – A Necessary Evil?

A guest post by Steve Entrich, Research Assistant at the University of Potsdam, Germany:

Who thinks that Japanese students should have gotten tired of juku classes by now is proven wrong. The hope to pass the difficult entrance examinations and get access to a prestigious university like the Tōdai (Tokyo University) and by this increase the chances to get hired for a desirable steady position in one of Japan’s big companies or government agencies, is a strong motivator for students to still give it their all. Following the unwritten rule saying that school education alone will not prepare a student sufficiently enough to let him survive in the tough business world students are more than ever supposed to take extra classes outside of school.

Nowadays parents are even told by their students’ school teachers to send their children to a juku in order to manage to get into the school or university they desire. As you can imagine foreign parents resist the idea of sending their children to take supplementary lessons at juku when they have to attend formal classes all day already – at first. In an interview survey carried out by Dr. Melodie Cook from Niigata University, which I had the pleasure to meet at a conference in October last year in Osaka, it was shown how foreign parents reconsider their view about juku. Despite having prejudices at first, in the end nearly all foreign parents enrolled their children at a juku.

When I was talking to Japanese (and non-Japanese) parents, researchers as well as juku owners one thing seemed to be consensus and commonly accepted: It cannot be helped, students have to attend a juku if they want to get a job. Therefore everybody has to accept the existence of juku and their function in the Japanese educational system. There is just no other option left for parents than to send their children to these private schools and invest a large extra amount of money for the children’s education. From a Western perspective it often seems negligently how Japanese educational policy gave way for the development of this system until it has become influential in such a way that it is perceived the formal school system alone is not able to fulfill its given educational mission anymore. In 2005 The Japan Times called it a “cash in on failure of public schools”.

In addition, the ones partly responsible for this and simultaneously beneficiaries of this system are, of course, the juku themselves. Surprisingly, the heads and leaders of juku are blaming the government for missing engagement in the education sector for so many years; they also explain their concerns about the well-being of the children. Here juku heads told me that they would like a change in this system as there was too much pressure on the students. The yutori education reform was not so bad one said, but carried out in the wrong way giving way for critics of the conservative forces resulting in increased pressure of students. It is considered too much weight on the small shoulders of students, if they first have to sit in school all day and following this, they have to attend their “second” school until nine or ten in the evening.

Nevertheless, a change might be coming in time said the leader of a big chain juku trying to paint a brighter picture. He finds it reasonable to believe that education as a whole might also be suspect to change in the near future including the private education and juku sector. Parents nowadays are questioning more for what purpose their children are studying, if there is no perspective for many of them after getting into university. The fundamental achievement principle might lose ground, since long given guarantees are not existing anymore. The strict organization of the school system is crumbling slowly due to the increasing internationalization resulting in a general, greater openness of education.

Still, until this change is starting to bear fruit students in Japan cannot possibly achieve their educational and career goals without the investment in juku – or so it seems.

Plus ça change…

Exactly a year ago, Feb 3, 2012, I published an editorial in the Japan Times. I didn’t come up with the title, but it was called “Exam Forces Students to Cram Irrelevant Facts” [note that the Japan Times seems to have changed its archiving, but for now the article continues to be available].

Today, Feb 3, 2013, the editors of the Japan Times wrote a piece entitled, “Entrance Exam Change Needed“. Sounds like similar arguments? Yup, the thrust of the argument is virtually the same as mine, i.e. university entrance examinations in Japan test “test-taking skills at the age of 18 will be of little help later in a fast-changing society”.

While I could flatter myself that the editorial writers of the Japan Times re-discovered my year-old editorial, or that “great minds think alike”, what’s really going on here is that nothing has changed in the past year regarding the main problem with entrance examinations to Japanese universities, namely the fact that they don’t test anything particularly useful, interesting or relevant to future learning or societies real and imagined needs.

When I had published that editorial a year ago, most colleagues and other readers reacted with, “You’re totally right, but nothing is ever going to change anyway.”

I’m afraid that my reaction to today’s editorial would have to be the same at this point.

There are a number of reasons for this pessimism and no single factor prevents changes to the entrance examinations.

Obviously, Japanese politics and policy-making is not exactly in a particularly dynamic area in any policy area.

More specifically to education policy, any attempts at changing content are probably doomed as reformers have clearly been burnt by the fate of the yutori reforms ten years ago. These reforms had been motivated in part by a desire to make space in teaching for just the kind of things that one might see as more useful through project learning. To create this space, the volume of multiple-choice-testable “knowledge” was reduced. It’s this reduction that has inspired years of talk about the decline of academic abilities and led to a reversal of the reduction of content.

Reforms of this kind are thus currently not to be expected from MEXT or from national politicians.

What about the universities that actually set the exams? The multiple-choice format is obviously so well-institutionalized that no one can quite imagine an alternative or that everyone would be too scared of looking like they’re “soft on knowledge”.

An oft-repeated objection to test-formats that would focus more on analytical skills and understanding is that the setting and correcting of such exams is too costly given that university personnel is centrally involved in this process.

Where else could pressure come from? With declining student numbers due to demographic developments the funnel into tertiary education has grown wider and wider. Other than at the very top (national public universities, nationally prominent private universities) entrance to university is becoming less and less competitive. Ultimately, that might make the entrance examinations even less useful and thus exert pressures on universities to drop them entirely in favour of some other mechanism.

It could also be imagined that some of the best students and their families may recognize the futility of 受験 (entrance exam study) and opt out to pursue higher education abroad. This, however, does not appear to be happening given the many laments about the inward-looking focus of university-aged Japanese students.

All this leaves me thinking that we’ll continue to read editorials of this kind for the foreseeable future, even when most academics, analysts, and perhaps even readers might agree with the analysis.

 

Painful Irony: My Editorial Becomes Element in an Entrance Examination

Oh. I can’t bear it!

Through a very circuitous route, I have learned that a 2010 editorial I wrote for the on-line English edition of the Asahi was used in the English portion of an entrance examination. Wow, is that karmic retribution for the impure thoughts I have been thinking about supplementary education?

In the 2012 entrance examination for Aichi Education (!) University (愛知教育大学), my editorial shows up. It doesn’t have a title, nor an author or attribution listed and I will have to find out why that is, but it then includes the typical exam question strategy of fill-in-the-blank for the appropriate proposition (“Continued opposition [...] the existence of the juku system has been one of the few areas of policy where the Japanese Teachers Union (Nikkyoso) finds itself in agreement [...] education ministry officials.”)

Some sentences have been selected to be translated by the exam sitters.

Standardized Testing and Its Uses by Policy-Makers

Keita Takayma has written a very nice Asia Pacific Memo (English/Japanese) that compares the national testing regime in Australia (NAPLAN) and in Japan (全国学力・学習状況調査). While both are standardized tests, they crucially differ in that the NAPLAN results are intended to be released to the public to create competition for positions on school league tables. This quasi-market is then meant to create pressure on schools to pursue changes and improvements as in the theoretical versions of arguments for charter schools in the U.S. that are also meant to spur on competition.

In Japan, by contrast, full data and analysis of the national test is only available to policy-makers. These analyses are then intended to spur policy-makers to improve results through a policy-making process, rather than relying on market mechanisms.

As a side note, I noticed in the school calendar for my oldest child that PISA testing is being conducted in his school this week. Yes, it is 2012, so PISA testing is going on.

UBC Workshop: Reconstruction after Japan’s Triple Disaster: Lessons for British Columbia

My colleague from UBC’s Geography Department, David Edgington, has put together a terrific workshop with funding from the Japan Foundation to discuss lessons from the aftermath of the triple disaster of the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis.

Presentations on March 15

Keynote

Hirokazu Tatano, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University: “The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: Implications for Infrastructure Planning and Management”

Panel 2

Theme: Learning from Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Japan and North America

Hirokazu Tatano, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University “The Japanese Emergency Management System”

John Oakley, Snr. Regional Manager, Emergency Management, BC “The British Columbia Emergency Management System”

Moderator: Ilan Vertinsky, IAR and Sauder Business School, UBC.

Panel 3

Theme: Community Reconstruction after Disasters

Masahige Motoe, Architecture and Urban Design Course, Tohoku University “Housing Transitions after the Japan Quake and the Activities of Architects – ArchiAid

Julian Dierkes, Director, Centre for Japanese Research, IAR, UBC “Small and Medium Education Businesses in the Economic Recovery of Tohoku”

Moderator: Chihiro Shimizu, International School of Economics and Business Administration, Reitaku Univeristy; Advisor to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan.

Panel 4

Theme: Film: Social Media and Disasters

Jamie Williams, School of Journalism, UBC “The Evolving Role of Social Media in Emergency Management”

Peter Anderson, School of Communications, Simon Fraser University “The Evolving Role of Social Media in Emergency Management”

Moderator: David Rummel, Visiting Professor at the School of Journalism, UBC; Senior Producer for News and Documentary at the New York Times.

Presentations on March 16

Panel 5

Theme: Economic Reconstruction after Disasters

Stephanie Chang, School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC “Economic Impacts and Recovery in the Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster

Glen Magel, Director, Safety and Security, BCIT; Board Chair, Emergency Preparedness for Industry and Commerce Council “EPIC: The Emergency Preparedness for Industry and Commerce Council

Moderator: David W. Edgington, Geography, UBC

Panel 6

Theme: Universities and Cities in Disasters

Masahige Motoe, Architecture and Urban Design Course, Tohoku University “The Reconstruction Process at the Tohoku University Campus

Ron Holton, Chief Risk Officer, Risk Management Services, UBC “Enhancing Disaster Response Preparedness at UBC

Moderator: Kevin Wallinger, Director, Office of Emergency Management, City of Vancouver

Book Review: Mary Brinton, “Lost in Transition. Youth, Work, and Instability in Postindustrial Japan”

I recently published a book review in Economic Sociology – The European Electronic Newsletter 13 (2), March 2012: 50-51. While the book doesn’t directly discuss juku, it is highly relevant to an understanding of the educational and career trajectories that contemporary Japanese youth pursue.

Book: Mary C. Brinton, 2011: Lost In Transition. Youth, Work, and Instability in Postindustrial Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In the comparative welfare state and varieties of capitalism literatures, Japan has played a curious role. Its rapid post-war growth entitled it to membership in the OECD and inclusion in purportedly widely-applicable theories about labor, industry, the (welfare) state and interlinkages between these elements that were assumed to constitute a “normal” developed market economy. Some elements of Japanese capitalism endured as distinctive features in many different middle-range theories and their application. The transition from school to work that Mary Brinton writes about with such depth of knowledge is one of these distinctive features.

Brinton focuses on the cultural, social, and human capital carried by organizations rather than individuals. The transition to work is highly structured and involves taken-for-granted understandings of the role of the student, school, and prospective employer. These understandings specifically emphasize the role of the school as a broker in placing students. The central question of the book becomes whether this brokering role has been made obsolete by the end of the labor shortages of the high-growth era and what the school-to-work transition looks like in post-industrial Japan. The surprising answer that Brinton provides is that the institutionalized roles of schools in brokering employment offers continues to serve students in vocational secondary schools well, but it is students at the middling to lower-ranked academic high schools that are turning into the “lost generation” that academics, commentators and policy-makers are increasingly concerned about in Japan.

The book makes a great virtue out of the fact that it resulted from a multi-year process of different research projects that were somewhat interwoven around the central theme of the school-to-work transition from the mid-1990s until the late 2000s. The evidence presented is based on a multi-method approach that is not only convincing in providing readers a glimpse at similar empirical questions from different perspectives, but also in offering a portrayal of the contemporary situation that seems as complete as it could be in just under 200 pages.

The opening chapter sets the stage by discussing the Japanese discourse on the “lost generations” that resulted from several years of a very low intake of new employees into the most desirable and stable jobs in the Japanese economy. Because several cohorts of the mid-1990s faced general hiring freezes at their single point of entry to stable employment, these cohorts are moving through the lifecourse with a significant bulge of unemployment or underemployment, lower job security, fewer benefits and all the social, psychological, and economic challenges that attend the status of being a “lost generation”.

The second chapter discusses the historical roots and institutionalization of the school-to-work transition as it emerged to address severe labor shortages during Japan’s high-growth period. Chapter 3 focuses on the extent to which not just the transition to work, but the entire employment trajectory as it is experienced by men in Japan revolves around attachment to a specific context, or ba. The following chapters continue this focus on the institutional context of the transition to work and present data from a variety of angles including an extended argument for why participants place such great trust in the institutionalized employment system. Chapter 6 as the final empirical chapter presents the life histories of three young men as they have experienced their membership in the lost generation. The conclusion then refocuses insights about the school-to-work transition on the growing awareness of socio-economic inequality in Japan.

The great merit of Brinton’s model is her ability to adapt prominent, predominantly North American theoretical concepts from the sociology of work and education to the particular context of Japanese employment relations. For example, she repeatedly returns to questions raised by Mark Granovetter’s strength of weak ties argument and examines it in the Japanese context.

As I progressed (easily, for it is well-written) through the book, my anticipation continued to build as to what other interesting data Brinton would be able to analyze. Data sources stretch from the census level to illustrate the portrayal of the “lost generation”, to smaller scale surveys that Brinton conducted jointly with some of the most prominent contemporary Japanese sociologists. Because her data collection and conceptualization of her analyses were interwoven with the social scientific discourse in Japan, and perhaps also because this book was originally published in Japanese and thus aimed to connect with this discourse more explicitly than many works, Brinton does an exceptional job at bridging scientific debates between the North American and Japanese contexts.

Brinton is not shy about “revealing” the sometimes haphazard routes by which data presented themselves to her. The story she recounts on pp. 55-56 of how she happened to come into possession of the entire trove of job offers in a local employment office was not only a light-hearted but telling insight into the difficulties of obtaining data. This will be a welcome pointer to some of the graduate students who will undoubtedly read this book that good things will come to researchers who engage a topic with in-depth fieldwork in the actual context of their chosen topic.

I found some aspects of Brinton’s argument less convincing than the overall thrust and structure of the presentation. For example, I am not sure that we need yet another version of what seems like a definition of “institution” in another context, namely Brinton’s use of the term “ba”. While this is a term with many complex connotations that I also encounter in my research on supplementary education in Japan, something as simple as “institutional context” would have served Brinton well. The life histories presented in Chapter 6 do round out the mix of methods employed by including in-depth interviews, but they seem to add very little to the overall argument.

I will be relying on the central empirical chapters of this book in an upcoming seminar on economic and social change to examine education(al policy) as a crucible of the organization of work and society in the Asia Pacific myself and recommend this book not only to readers interested in the specifics of the Japanese case, but to the broader audience of scholars working on employment systems and the welfare state. Brinton will provide you with an engaging overview of the Japanese employment system, but also many insights into the operation of social institutions and individuals’ choices in the context of this system.

Obsessing about Finland

Does the (success of) the Finnish education system have any relevance for Japan?

The degree to which some of my interlocutors in Japan obsess about Finland and see Finnish education as a panacea for all that is wrong (presumably, but see my argument for the central importance of perceptions) with Japanese education has puzzled me for some time. The somewhat less urgent interest in Singapore falls in the same category, I think.

Now, Keita Takayama who has been doing some terrific work on the place of Japanese education in a comparative and global context, makes the case that the reference nation status of Finland (and the lack of such status for E Asian education systems that perform equally well in PISA and similar comparisons) is due a) to the proximity of Finnish policies to OECD precepts, and b) to Finnish pre-PISA status as a “tabula rasa” among education systems that is not burdened by any of the preconceptions about E Asian education systems. Takayama makes this case in an Asia Pacific Memo on February 16, 2012.

Takayama makes his case very succinctly, but Finland’s status as a reference nation has come up in N American debates as well.

See for example:

If I were to start from the premise that there are things about Japanese education that could use reform, what countries would I look to? Or, what countries might I not look to?

I do think that education systems vary significantly by scale. According to Eurostat, the total number of primary and secondary students in Finland is about 1.2 mio. Japan’s comparable figure is 18 mio. This reflects the ratio of the two populations with about 5.3 mio Finns in 2010 and 127 mio Japanese. Clearly, an education system that is fifteen times as large in terms of the number of students enrolled involves different complexities than a smaller counterpart. That is not to say that there aren’t aspects of Finnish education that are worth examining in considering reforms for Japan, I’m just not convinced that Finland is the most relevant example in this regard.

Why not pick more proximate comparators? While South Korea is not even half as populous as Japan its education system operates on a scale that is much closer to Japan. Likewise France which would be an example of an education system that has some structural similarities (high degree of centralization, for example) and operates on a similar scale, though a comparison between Japan and France on comparative educational achievement would likely lead to a large-scale visitation movement from France to Japan, not the other way around.

What about Canada? Again, not quite on the population scale of Japan, but similar success to Japan…

I see the interest in Finland as primarily a faddish one will raise some questions that are wonderful raise about education elsewhere (including in all the countries mentioned in the above), but will not provide panacea.

 

Reflecting on Tohoku Trip

If you follow me on twitter you know that I recently spent some days in Tohoku  with the intent of looking at post-disaster recovery from the perspective of juku as a small service-oriented business. I am now mulling over some of my observations from this trip in preparation for a March 15 presentation in a workshop organized by my colleague David Edgington at UBC.

During my visit, I was able to meet with 1o juku operators in the region, from Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures to Fukushima.

Here is a loose list of some of the things I will talk about:

  • in terms of the situation that juku find themselves in, the clearly most significant determinant of this situation is whether the operator has access to a teaching space, i.e. whether his/her home/teaching space had been destroyed
  • differences in the impact of the triple disaster by geographic zones:
    • coastal regions: tsunami impact severe, but it largely ends at where ever the water rose to
    • inland: some damage to buildings, but only sporadic
    • Fukushima: radiation impact pervasive
  • relatively few juku operators have abandoned the business
  • while economic opportunities were limited in the country-side pre-disaster, even rural Tohoku was not in as dire a situation (in terms of economic decline, out-migration) as I’ve seen in Shimane Prefecture, for example
  • while there were many casual throughout the region, the number of children who perished was limited and there are also many families who were not impacted materially to any great extent. This has meant that for many juku, business is down (in terms of the number of children taught), but not dramatically so
  • juku are eligible for reconstruction funds as small businesses and these public monies are appropriate to the reconstruction needs of a small service business
  • there is clearly a disaster bubble (震災バブル) in progress, evidence of which could be seen in the many (truck) traffic jams, busy eating establishments, and reflections by locals
  • while the physical clean-up continues apace and the situation for small business seems to be normalizing, there is massive human suffering in evidence all around
  • relief and support efforts are fraught with traps. Offer free tutoring for local students? You’re killing local business opportunities. Offer subsidies for local businesses, non-local chains, etc. will also be eligible.
  • some fascinating volunteer projects in place that are trying to make the best of a very difficult situation and are innovative in doing so
  • the operators of small juku overwhelmingly reported that their corporate cousins (大手塾) have abandoned the region

Some of these observations will come as no surprise to colleagues who have conducted research on post-disaster areas before and I am still trying to organize these thoughts in a more coherent fashion.

The センター試験 as the Linchpin of Educational Reform

An edited and more concise version of this post appeared as an editorial in the Japan Times on Friday, February 3, 2012, entitled “Stocking up on useless facts to pass an exam“.

I have been studying 学習塾 for over six years and have visited more than 50 individually-operated throughout Japan. I have been thrilled by the dedication of charismatic educators, and dismayed by the relentless focus on standardized test results and by the lack of a diversity of offerings beyond the narrow confines of the curriculum in an era of hypereducation.

Recently, thousands of students sat for the central university entrance examination (センター試験, see National Center for University Entrance Examinations). For ambitious students, the exam is merely a requirement to check off on their way to the entrance examinations for specific fields of study that follow later. For others, the exam is a convenient way to avoid multiple examinations if they are not opting for entrance to university via the increasingly common recommendation route (推薦). The exam is one of the ultimate goals that supplementary education through primary and secondary schooling focuses on.

When I read the exam questions that were reprinted in newspapers last week, I felt great dismay and a concern for Japan’s future. Despite the tremendous resources that the state, students, and parents invest in education, the linchpin of the education system tests knowledge that I – as a university professor – am not looking for in my students and that is unlikely to serve the Japanese nation and Japanese businesses in the postindustrial era.

Yes, for a student who will go on to a doctorate in literature, it is important to know whether Erasmus wrote before or after Cervantes and Petrarch (Q9 in the World History B portion of this year’s test). But this knowledge is only relevant in rare circumstances and does not speak to any kind of skill. The very nature of the exam – short answers selected from a list of options – pushes the education system towards a pursuit of only variously useful factual knowledge that is rarely linked to any communication and analysis skills. It is one of the great strengths of juku that they seem to prepare students well for this kind of exam. This may also be at the root of the consistently high ranking of Japanese students in international comparisons of educational achievement like PISA.

To make education more relevant to the skills of the 21st century, the core of its content has to be reformed. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) should initiate an experiment with a limited essay format that requires students in social studies’ subjects, Japanese, and English to provide an analysis of a topic discussed in a short reading or through the presentation of specific data. This experiment should be announced ahead of its implementation initially without an impact on students’ results in the first two years.

During this period of experimentation, MEXT and the National Center for University Entrance Examinations might also consider various options to provide the labour to mark essays, a process that is highly labour intensive, even for a short essay. Given the number of out-of-work PhDs, perhaps there could be a system of fellowships at participating universities that required fellows to participate in the marking of the central examination. It should be noted that many universities already provide the labour to grade the university-specific entrance examinations that come after the central exam, and these often include essay formats.

After some tweaking of the essay format, this critical thinking skills portion of the exam could be gradually expanded to take its place alongside the current focus on knowledge acquisition. The English portion of the exam should be shifted from testing arcane grammatical knowledge (受験英語) to an emphasis on communication paralleling the introduction of an essay format. With a long-term plan in hand, current elementary students could be told that the central exam will have changed by the time they will sit for it and this will allow them, parents, teachers and even juku teachers to adjust their teaching methods accordingly.

Through such a gradual transition, the central exam as the linchpin of an exam-oriented Japanese educational system could be transformed from its current role as an enforcer of test-taking English, arcane knowledge, and cramming strategies into a meaningful test of relevant skills and knowledge.

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