Japanese Students Show Changes in Outlook Since March Triple Disaster

A survey done on 700 Japanese students of the Soka Gakkai Tohoku have shown changes in attitudes after the March 11, 2011 “triple disaster” of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident.

When seeking employment, the students’ key purpose had previously been about earning money (23.2%). After the disasters, students are now focused on “helping others” (188%) and “attaining a stable life” (17.7%). Many have also shown that their motivation is now for the sake of the community (16.8%).

When asked on what issues their views had changed, 19.9% of respondents stated that their views on nuclear power had changed (this figure was higher, at 23%, among students from the affected areas), 18.1% indicated a shift in their perspective on the importance of helping others and 17.7% a change in their appreciation for the basics of daily life such as shelter, food and clothing.

Hironobu Nakamura, Soka Gakkai Tohoku student division leader, comments:

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“Many of our student members have been helping out with relief efforts. They wanted through this survey to listen to and broadcast the voices of their peers. Before the disaster many people were commenting on the lack of human connections in Japanese society. The results clearly indicate how much people value these connections now.”

Was there a positive outcome from the “triple disaster”? About 45% mentioned the strengthening of links between people. In terms of lessons they had learned, 34.2% stressed the need for disaster preparedness and 21.1% highlighted the importance of caring for others.

It’s a little disheartening that it would need a disaster to change our outlook and attitude for the better.