Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Evacuees, Operation Tomodachi, and the unique Japanese way

It's been 5 days since I've posted an update. I was quite busy over the weekend, and also needed a bit of rest. Here are a number of stories related to the disaster I thought you might find helpful and/or interesting:
Photo: NY Times
  • The situation and conditions of evacuees varies widely. Some are still crowded in cold shelters with cardboard dividers. Some have been given tents to stay in, whether inside or outside. Temporary dwellings are being built, but there is not much open land in Japan, so they are using the playgrounds of local schools. Some will even have the chance to stay in a former posh hotel in central Tokyo! Residents of Futaba town, evacuated because of high levels of radiation, have been moved to a town not too far from where we live in Saitama Prefecture. "Now, he, too, is a refugee, driven from his home by the very plant he long held up as the linchpin of the local economy." "For the government, providing food and temporary shelter was the relatively straightforward part in helping victims cope with the disaster. However, making sure people have a place and a community to return to will be a much more difficult task."
  • The American military in Japan has received praise from the government and the citizens of Japan for their large-scale response to the disaster, called Operation Tomodachi (which means "friend"). They even responded to a 14-year old girl's plea to help her family find their lost fishing boat.
  • I've seen several articles about how calm and orderly the Japanese were in the midst of the crisis. Although probably a simplification, I believe this is an outworking of a complex cultural system that has been honed over centuries to enable people living in close quarters on a small island to function in their daily lives. A strong cultural value is not to be a bother to your neighbor and to live up to the expectations of the community. Human relationships carry with them a weight of obligation and responsibility not felt in other cultures. Failure to keep the norms will result in shame and ostracism, something Japanese do all they can to avoid, even in the midst of a crisis.

No comments:

Post a Comment