Accepted Paper:

Mourning away from home: the Japanese community in London in the wake of 3/11  

Author:

Ruth Martin (Oxford Brookes University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how the 65,000 strong Japanese community in the UK mourned for and remembered the dead in the wake of the disaster of March 2011.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines how the 65,000 strong Japanese community in the UK mourned for and remembered the dead in the wake of the disaster of March 2011. It is a highly structured community made up of transient corporate staff and their families, students/academics and an increasing number of permanent residents. Hierarchies within the transient community made it particularly difficult  to know how to demonstrate the sense of shock felt at the disaster. It took permanent residents , less hampered by social constraints, to provide platforms for expressing this through music and dance events. Although in the immediate aftermath these were initially primarily fund raising events, they also enabled Japanese to gather together in a unified sense of grief and to show solidarity for home. A memorial service was subsequently held at Westminster Abbey three months after the disaster and further memorial services both one and two years later were held at the Embassy of Japan. This paper shows how these latter events in London served not only as as vehicles of communal catharsis, but as diplomatic and political tools in the process of recovery in Japan.

Panel P118
Mourning, memorialization and recovery in post-disaster contexts