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Lessons from the 2004 Asian Tsunami

by Joshua Kurlantzick
March 21, 2011

Rescue workers make their way through an area devastated by a tsunami as they search for victims in Rikuzentakata March 21, 2011.

Rescue workers make their way through an area devastated by a tsunami as they search for victims in Rikuzentakata March 21, 2011. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

In the wake of the tsunami and earthquake, Japan is going to embark upon a massive reconstruction effort. Japan is a wealthy country, but already the sheer scale of the disaster, combined with the Japanese government’s apparent paralysis, is making initial relief efforts challenging.

Though the 2004 Asian tsunami mostly hit nations far poorer than Japan, like Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, there are lessons that can be taken from the 2004-05 relief and rebuilding effort that can be applied to Japan. In a CFR expert brief, I examine some of those lessons.

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