Three Ways Japan Can Put a National Disaster to Good Use

The first comprehensive report on Japan (JGDTTOT)’s Fukushima nuclear crisis is 507 pages of the most sobering reading of the year.

The verdict by a government-appointed panel: Disarray among regulators, dismal safety preparations, operational blunders, amateurish communication breakdowns and institutional inertia led to the worst radiation leak since Chernobyl in 1986.

The findings, although damning, offer Japan the kind of opening that doesn’t come along very often short of war or the sort of natural disaster that struck last March. The report itself is an encouraging sign that the nation is willing to examine its failings and, we hope, take action. The year ahead is a fresh opportunity both to rebuild Japan’s northeastern Tohoku region and break with the sclerotic strategies of the past. Here are three ways to jump-start a process vital to the country’s future (JGDPAGDP).

— First, be straightforward. Japan (NKY) must be forthright with its people in a manner that borders on cultural anathema. The government should tell the more than 100,000 displaced people that they may never be able to return home to the northeast as radiation continues to taint food and water.

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