Generational Divide Opens Gap in Post-Tsunami Planning

<em>The Economist</em> looks at the generational gap that is hampering efforts to rebuild tsunami-stricken communities in Japan, as the elderly favor restoring what was lost as soon as possible, and the young seek sustainable revitalization.
August 6, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Japan's aging population has been a concern of the country's officials and planners since long before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck north-eastern Japan. Now, the wishes of an elderly population that is "richer, more risk-averse and more powerful than the young," are pitted against younger generations (and the central government) in determining how tsunami-stricken communities will be rebuilt. 

"The central government still hopes that rebuilding stricken areas can be a blueprint for revitalisation of ageing communities elsewhere in Japan. It is allowing innovative places to become 'special zones' that are light on regulation and heavy on such new ideas as smart energy grids and high-density living. The implication is that those who simply want to restore what was lost may not get generous treatment. Yet officials acknowledge that the elderly have a lot of voting power in Japan, and are hard to boss about."

"Finding compromises on such fraught social issues is key to the rebuilding, which suggests that it will remain painstakingly slow."

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Published on Saturday, August 4, 2012 in The Economist
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