Plenary 1: Japan 2011: Cascading Disasters

The goal of the session is to illuminate the multifaceted nature of the impact of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Specifically, how the earthquake, the tsunami, and the Fukushima plant were just the first parts of an event that rippled through all of Japan, impacting its people and environments in many ways. We want the audience to think deeper about the Japanese experience and draw lessons from the event ni a manner that will lead to more resilient communities responding more effectively to future disasters.



John Hamilton: Jon Hamilton is a correspondent for NPR's Science Desk. Currently he focuses on neuroscience, health risks, and extreme weather.

Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Hamilton was part of NPR's team of science reporters and editors who went to Japan to cover the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Hamilton contributed several pieces to the Science Desk series "The Human Edge," which looked at what makes people the most versatile and powerful species on Earth. His reporting explained how humans use stories, how the highly evolved human brain is made from primitive parts, and what autism reveals about humans social brains.

In 2009, Hamilton received the Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award for his piece on the neuroscience behind treating autism.

Before joining NPR in 1998, Hamilton was a media fellow with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation studying health policy issues. He reported on states that have improved their Medicaid programs for the poor by enrolling beneficiaries in private HMOs.

From 1995-1997, Hamilton wrote on health and medical topics as a freelance writer, after having been a medical reporter for both The Commercial Appeal and Physician's Weekly.


Confirmed Discussants:


Tim Mousseau: Professor Timothy Mousseau joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina in 1991 and is currently a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences. His past experience includes having served as Dean of the Graduate School, Associate Vice President for Research, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the College of Arts & Sciences, as a Program Officer for  Population Biology at the National Science Foundation, on the editorial boards for several journals, and on NSF, USGS, and a variety of international grant foundation advisory panels. He recently served (2011-12) on the National Academy of Sciences panel to analyze cancer risks in populations near nuclear facilities.

He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2008, a Fellow National of the Explorers Club in 2009, and a member of the Cosmos Club (DC) in 2011. He was awarded both the President’s Appreciation Award and the Faculty Award from the national Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) in 2011.

Dr. Mousseau has published over 140 scholarly articles and has edited two books: Maternal Effects as Adaptations (1998) and  Adaptive Genetic Variation in the Wild (2000), both published by Oxford University Press. He is currently co-editor-in-chief of the annual review series, The Year in Evolutionary Biology, published by the New York Academy of Sciences.

Since 1999, Professor Mousseau and his collaborators (esp. Dr. Anders Pape Møller, CNRS, University of Paris-Sud) have explored the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the radioactive contaminants affecting populations of birds, insects and people inhabiting the Chernobyl region of Ukraine, and more recently, in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Dr. Mousseau’s current research is aimed at elucidating the causes of variation among different species in their apparent sensitivity to radionuclide exposure.


Yoshimi Inaba: Yoshimi Inaba is chairman of Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., Toyota’s U.S. sales, marketing, distribution and customer service arm in Torrance, Calif. He also serves as an executive advisor of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Toyota’s parent company in Japan.

In these roles, Mr. Inaba is responsible for Toyota’s sales, marketing and external affairs operations in the Unites States.

Mr. Inaba joined TMC in 1968, immediately after graduating from Japan’s Kyoto University. His first overseas assignment was in 1985 at Toyota's German sales company, where he worked for three years. After returning to TMC in Japan, he spent five years at the Europe Division. He then moved to TMS in 1993, becoming senior vice president in 1996, responsible for sales and marketing for the Toyota and Lexus divisions. 

Mr. Inaba returned to Japan in 1997 and was named to TMC’s Board of Directors (with managing director status) where he oversaw European and African operations. In 1999, Mr. Inaba moved back to the U.S. to become president of TMS, and in June 2003, he was made a senior managing director at TMC. In June 2005, he became an executive vice president, focusing on Toyota’s Chinese operations. 

In June 2007, he was appointed president and chief executive officer of Central Japan International Airport Co., Ltd., and a senior advisor to the board of TMC. In June 2009, Mr. Inaba returned to TMC in his current capacity.

Yoshimi Inaba was born on February 24, 1946. He graduated from Kyoto University with a degree in economics. He also earned a master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business in June 1976. 

Koji Tomita: Koji Tomita is Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC.

After graduating from the University of Tokyo, Minister Tomita has joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Tokyo in 1981.

As a diplomat, he served in the UK, Singapore, Paris (OECD) and Seoul.

Prior to his current post, he served as the Political Minister at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC for about 7 months.

He was the Political Minister at the Embassy of Japan in the UK (2006-2009),

Political Minister at the Embassy of Japan in Seoul (2004-2006), Counsellor at the Permanent Delegation of Japan to OECD in Paris (1997-1999).

In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo, he has held such posts as Director of National Security Policy Division & Policy Coordination Division of Foreign Policy Bureau (2001-2004), and Deputy Director-General of North American Affairs Bureau and Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau (2009-2012).

Publication: Churchill:  Leadership in Crisis (in Japanese).


Robert F. Willard was elected President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), located in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 9, 2012.

INPO, sponsored by the commercial nuclear industry, is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the highest levels of safety and reliability ¾ to promote excellence ¾ in the operation of commercial nuclear power plants.

On May 1, 2012, Admiral Willard completed a distinguished Navy career as the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

Willard is a Los Angeles native and a 1973 graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  He has a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University and is an MIT Seminar XXI alumnus.

An F-14 aviator, Willard served in a variety of west coast fighter squadrons; VF-24, VF 124,
VF-2, and VF-51 aboard the aircraft carriers USS Constellation, USS Ranger, USS Kitty Hawk and
USS Carl Vinson.  He was Operations Officer and Executive Officer of Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN).  He later commanded the "Screaming Eagles" of Fighter Squadron 51.

Following nuclear-power training, Willard served as Executive Officer of USS Carl Vinson
(CVN 70), commanded the amphibious flagship USS Tripoli (LPH 10) in the Persian Gulf during “Operation Vigilant Warrior” for which Tripoli received a Navy Unit Commendation and commanded the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

As a Flag Officer, Willard twice served on the Joint Staff, was Deputy and Chief of Staff for
U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, commanded Carrier Group Five aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and commanded the U.S. Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan.  In March 2005, Willard became the 34th Vice Chief of Naval Operations; in May 2007, he assumed command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet; and on October 19, 2009, he became the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and various other awards.