The March 11 Tohoku magnitude 9 earthquake of 2011, with its resulting tsunami (waves of 38.9 m at its highest point) and ongoing emergency at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, is the greatest crisis faced by Japan since WWII. It is already regarded as the most expensive natural disaster in history, with estimated costs potentially over US$300bn. As of June 1, the 3/11 disaster had resulted in 15,400 confirmed deaths, with 8,300 missing, and nearly 100,000 made homeless (The 1995 Kobe earthquake saw around 6,500 fatalities – but both are dwarfed by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, with up to 140,000 killed). (Japan Times, June 12, 2011). Japanese politics, the economy and society, and its place in the region were already in a state of some malaise before the disaster. This paper will consider how the crisis has affected the domestic politics of Japan, and the potential implications for Japan’s diplomatic and strategic role in the wider Asia-Pacific region. It considers whether the crisis is a potential catalyst for recovery.