March 22, 2011 — The University of Virginia will host a public teach-in Thursday to focus on the events in Japan following that country's earthquake and tsunami.
"This is the biggest thing to happen to Japan in decades and will certainly shape it in ways that are likely to be as important as, but different from, the way the United States was affected by 9/11," said Japan expert Leonard Schoppa, a politics professor in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences affiliated with the East Asia Institute.
Schoppa will discuss the social, political and economic implications of the disaster. Other U.Va. professors scheduled to participate include John Quale and Kirk Martini, associate professors in the Architecture School with expertise in building sustainable, prefabricated housing; psychologist Peter Sheras, an associate professor from the Curry School of Education, who will address the mental health challenges for survivors; and Diane Hoffman, also of the Curry School, who will discuss cultural values that shape Japanese interpersonal relationships and the country's worldview.
The magnitude-9.0 earthquake hit the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11, shifting the Oshika Peninsula near the epicenter by just over 17 feet and dropping it by just over 4 feet. The temblor triggered a devastating tsunami that wiped communities off the map and badly damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, sparking concerns about radioactive contamination.
As of Tuesday, the official death toll had topped 9,000. However, that number is expected to rise because nearly 13,000 people are missing.
The World Bank estimates the disaster will cost Japan up to $230 billion and that it will take five years to rebuild.