Tokyo's Transformation

How Japan Is Changing -- and What It Means for the United States

Courtesy Reuters

The earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, caused almost unimaginable damage and misery. In a surge of floodwater that lasted just two minutes, Japan lost nearly as many people as a proportion of its population as the United States did during the entire Vietnam War. The subsequent meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear reactors deepened the crisis.

But some see a silver lining to these dark tragedies. After 20 years of economic stagnation, the crisis could bring the Japanese together, catalyze much-needed reforms, and reverse decades of malaise. Many in the United States predict that the disaster will give a welcome boost to the U.S.-Japanese alliance. In an interview with Japan's national public television network on March 22, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed, "Our alliance, which was already strong and enduring, has become even more so." Indeed, the U.S. response to the disaster showcased

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