Does law have a heart? A comparison of Australian and Japanese law in post-disaster recovery
Date of this Version
Less than a year has passed since floods placed 70% of the state of Queensland under water and the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear fallout devastated north-eastern Japan. This paper compares how Australia and Japan have invoked law in response to their separate disasters. Typically, in large-scale tragedies, law is invoked to allocate blame, determine entitlement and amount of compensation and regulate future conduct. Unsurprisingly, this formed a significant element of the Australian and Japanese legal responses. However, this paper looks at the deeper – and less well-understood – therapeutic role of law in community healing, drawing on the Floods Inquiry in Queensland and the compensation offer to Fukushima victims in Japan. The paper questions whether law is purely a rational device for designing ex-ante regulation and achieving ex-post justice. Or does it – can it – have a heart?