Art & Design

STRONG IN THE RAIN: Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

3 December 2012, London

The Japan Society is delighted to welcome journalist and academic, David McNeill, to talk about his new book Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, following its publication in November this year. After a presentation by the author,  the audience will be invited to take part in a question and answer session.


The book blends history, science and gripping storytelling to bring the immediate aftermath of the March 2011 triple disaster to life, through the eyes of the men and women who experienced it first-hand.


Following the narratives of six individuals, Strong in the Rain traces the shape of a tragedy and the awe-inspiring heroics it prompted. Among others, we meet David Chumreonlert, a Texan with Thai roots, trapped in his school’s gymnasium with hundreds of students and teachers as it begins to flood. We meet a worker who thought nothing of returning to the Fukushima plant to fight the nuclear disaster, despite effects that he knew might stay with him for the rest of his life. We read of the mayor of a coastal town who remained devoted to his job and the care of his townsfolk round the clock, without knowing the fate of his own family, his optimism and bravery as inspiring as his problems overwhelming. We learn of the messengers who sacrificed their own lives to warn others of the rapidly approaching tsunami.


In addition to this beautifully-written and moving collection of narratives, McNeill, and his co-author, Lucy Birmingham, look at the consequences of what Japan endured in 2011. The disaster has had a ripple effect throughout the world, prompting international rescue missions and reactions from a range of NGO and aid organisations; some were helpful, some less so (despite best intentions). Only a few months after the earthquake, Germany committed to replacing nuclear power with renewables by 2022. In the same month, Italy voted not to restart its nuclear program and Switzerland put a freeze on the building of all new plants.


David McNeill writes regularly for the Independent, the Economist, the Irish Times, and Japan Times, while teaching at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. His work has also appeared in Newsweek, New Scientist, The Face, Marie Claire, New Statesman. He is a board member of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan and chair of The Foreign Press in Japan. He lives in Tokyo.


To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 7828 6330 or email or submit the online booking form.

3 December 2012, 6:45pm

The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, LondonWC1A 2TH (nearest tube: Holborn)

Tel: 020 7828 6330

The Japan Society