Yesterday, Japan remembered.

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake rocked the coast of Japan. The quake generated the largest recorded tsunami in modern Japanese history, which swept across the northeast coast of Japan.

In addition to destruction and loss of life resulting from these natural disasters, facilities at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station were severely damaged, and a release of radiation into the environment followed.

As American hearts go out to Japan, the U.S. should not forget what happened that day, either. Catastrophes can happen anywhere. America needs to pay close attention to the lessons of the Japanese experience. Last year, in the wake of the disaster, a special task force organized by The Heritage Foundation published “The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake: Assessing Disaster Response and Lessons for the U.S.

Now, one year later, Heritage is finalizing its study on the lessons of long-term recovery in Japan. The report concludes that there is much to learn from the Japanese experience that will serve in guiding how to best prepare the American people to cope with catastrophic disasters.

In most cases, the lessons involve the federal government learning how to do less, not more: placing the responsibilities for caring for communities where they belong—on the communities themselves—reserving for the national government the responsibilities that only the national government can fulfill, and focusing its efforts on the most efficacious activities rather than the most politically expedient acts.

The Heritage Foundation report “One Year Later” is forthcoming.