Find our new content and programs at

Friday, March 11, 2011


Nearly everyone is watching events unfold with the news of the massive Japan earthquake, and resulting tsunami.

The earthquake hit off the coast of northern Japan. The quake caused significant damage and then caused a tsunami, which swept through parts of the country including the Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate Prefectures. The tsunami also headed toward islands and continental shorelines across the Pacific.

This is a tragic and historic event - and one that provides an opportunity to learn about government, leadership, civics, communications, collaboration and making comparisons.

Some questions to think about:

  • What is a prefecture? Which level of US government is the closest in structure and governing authority?
  • What kind of government does Japan have? What are the similarities and differences with US government?
  • How will the earthquake impact Japan's economy? government? schools? citizens? leaders?  history?
  • What are the connections to the US economy, government and schools?
  • When a natural disaster strikes a city, who's in charge? What are the roles of citizens and leaders? What about the media?
  • What are some examples of other natural disasters? How did they impact the economy? government? schools? citizens? leaders? history?
  • If you were the Prime Minister of Japan, the Governor of Miyagi Prefecture, the Mayor of Sendai, how would you manage this crisis? What would you say to the citizens? How would you mobilize other leaders?
  • If you were the head of another country or city, how would you react? Would you send support to Japan - and if so, what kind? Would you use this example to make sure your city or country is ready for a disaster?
  • Do other countries, such as the United States, have an obligation to help other countries in these situations? What kinds of factors come into play - consider humanitarian, political and economic impacts both in the US and globally.
  • Are some countries better prepared to handle crisis? How and why?
  • The US National Weather Service plays a critical role in issuing tsunami warnings for the Pacific. Why?
  • If you were writing the headline about the earthquake, what would it be? Check out the headlines used by news sources. Were you close? Different? Why do you think some news stories focus on specific parts, or angles, of a story?
  • What can Japanese students do to help their country recover from the earthquake and tsunami?
Learn more