Friday, April 15, 2011

One Month after the Kanto Earthquake.

Hi everyone,

First off, I'd like to thank everyone for all the kind messages and e-mails I've received. Although this blog only reaches a limited audience within my circle of friends and family, I'd still like to express my gratitude and appreciation for everyone's concerns.

I want to reassure everyone that I am safe and am the picture of health. Although there is so much to say about the event that took place, I cannot find all the words to describe the calamity that it was (even here in Tokyo) on & after March 11, 2011.

Many restaurants and stores were closed or empty for the first several weeks. Many of the train lines were completely stopped. Previously bustling towns were empty ghost-towns. Friends and family fled from their homes to other areas of Japan or even as far as other countries. Japan was in a state of repressed fear and panic for the first several weeks, especially with the news of radioactive leaks in the air/water and continuing aftershocks. The Japanese news reports tried not to overexaggerate the chaos, but the imagery and the video footage taken by residents and bystanders were enough to shake the entire nation. News overseas, on the otherhand, overexaggerated this news far more than what our own public broadcasts were reporting. Despite being well-prepared for strong earthquakes, Japan was not ready to face the power of the underestimated Tsunami. The earthquake did relatively little damage by comparison.

Its been about one month since the great Kanto quake. Many train lines have restarted again, shops have now re-opened, and many big businesses have resumed their head operations in Tokyo. Most Japanese people are trying to re-adjust themselves to the normal rhythm of their everyday lives again, but were taken by surprise from a Magnitude 7.1 aftershock at 8 AM this past Monday. The strong aftershocks still continue and the epicenters of these quakes are slowly traveling down south. People now fear that the next big quake will eventually hit the Tokyo area. It is a constant and eerie reminder of the damage and the many lives lost in the Tohoku area.

There has been a lot of talk about what the future of Japan will be. Many American analysts are speculating that it is "over for them." I beg to differ.

When World War 2 came to a close with the dropping of the atomic bomb, Japan was in the very same position (also with regard to radioactivity). Although many misdeeds and catastrophes took place, people just tried to put these events in the past, rebuild and resume their lives. The mindset was that "the current situation is a result of our own doing. we just need to move forward and try not to look back." The collective strength of the Japanese brought the nation back up on its feet, becoming (for a time) one of the most thriving nations in the world. Having been in a state of 「平和ボケ」or dumb-founded peace for so many years after the war, the Japanese youth have been spoiled by the numerous luxuries that society offers. What were once considered priviledges in the past, are now expected benefits. Many do not understand the meaning of working-hard, nor realize why they are working so hard. Motivation for living day-to-day has become a chore. However, with such catastrophe burned into so many Japanese minds, it can potentially revitalize the people's cause and strengthen their desire to work hard together once more. It is this collective strength that really shines within the Japanese society.

Various global journalists have examined the working ethic of the Japanese and have found great praise and respect for their discipline and patience since the aftermath of the quake. Many have also commented that if such chaos took place within their own home nations, it is likely that widespread panic will overtake the people and collective efforts are unlikely to be seen. Such collectivism in other global nations is not as unified as Japan, granted that many of these societies encourage more independence and individuality. This observation of the Japanese society is exactly what I believe will heal the country. So long as the people work together to revitalize their nation once more, Japan can continue its prosperity.

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