Even before the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown last year, Japan was a nation in crisis, writes Jonathan S. Watts in This Precious Life: Buddhist Tsunami Relief and Anti- Nuclear Activism in Post 3/11 Japan, a Tricycle Fall 2012 “Books in Brief” book of choice. Watts has been a research fellow at the International Buddhist Exchange Center (IBEC) in Yokohama since 2006. He teaches contemporary Japanese Buddhism and social issues at Keio University.
This Precious Life represents the work of IBEC’s Engaged Buddhism Project to document in English for the world outside of Japan the experiences, activities, struggles, challenges, and hopes of the Japanese Buddhist world in confronting the 3/11 disasters and the larger implications of them. IBEC was founded in 1966 in order to develop modern, international perspectives on Buddhism through study and research, to create opportunities for those interested in Buddhism to learn and study further through lectures and events, and to cooperate with Buddhists inside and outside Japan on various social issues. IBEC’s Engaged Buddhist Project (EBP) was created in April 2006. The project has placed deep emphasis on researching critical Japanese social issues like suicide, poverty, problem youth, and since March 11th, 2011, emergency relief aid and nuclear activism.
Tricycle caught up with Watts last month to ask him about the making of This Precious Life and the on-the-ground realities of a country only a little over a year past a national tragedy.