We’re all terrified for the Japanese people while simultaneously being fascinated by the scope of the disaster. That’s human nature – it’s compelling and it’s riveting.
So we watch and listen to the minute by minute updates on the radiation danger. But at the same time, and getting less attention, there are more very serious problems afflicting the country. (I don’t mean to minimize the nuclear threat – radiation is a real and present danger and could even force the eventual long term evacuation of large areas.)
They’re running out of food and water in shelters. It’s freezing in the north – there was a blizzard of snow yesterday. The Japanese have an enormous elderly population and some of them have found themselves left with only one coat and no way to get out of where they are. Shelters may not have heat. Some countries have suspended air service to Tokyo. And even there, food supplies are perilously low.
Few governments have ever faced such a multiplicity of crises outside of wartime.
And my government is considering dedicating air power to Libya. Elvis help me, but these failures of the human heart are killing me.
The only country to ever suffer an attack by nuclear weapons might now be facing the worst peacetime nuclear contamination in history. It’s not Chernobyl yet, but Japan is an island nation; there aren’t a lot of places to hide.
Japanese serenity garden
In 65 years, the Japanese pretty much became the people they attacked in 1941 and who dropped atom bombs on them in 1946; they embraced the Western way of life.
Theirs is such an ancient culture – I wonder if there aren’t some today in Japanese universities or think tanks re-examining all of it, wondering did they choose the right path?
Westernization has nothing to do with the fact of the earthquake or the tsunami of course – God laughs when God laughs. But I think the ugliness of the aftermath, the horror of twisted steel and broken infrastructure and now, radiation turned to poison the builders, I think these things offend beauty and serenity, thinks the Japanese have always treasured.
Just a thought.
UPDATE April 4, 2011: A writer I admire, James Howard Kunstler (been perusing his site today) pretty much said the same thing about Japan and it’s esthetic. (He said it six days after me, think he got it here? Heh, fat chance.
Posted in culture, Current Events, environment, Japan
Tagged atom bomb, earthquake, Japan, Japanese art, nuclear contamination, tsunami, Westernization, WWII, Zen
Liberal media, my derriere. This is what a real newspaper does. This is what the best does (use the slider function at the link and take your time. Look for the water channels cut into the shorelines. ). Look for anything comparable anywhere else in print. All Japan stories there are worth a look, especially the interactive graphics.
POSTED BY ORHAN
Over at Make Wealth History there’s a post on Japan as the world’s first post-growth economy. In the eyes of economists, Japan is an economic disaster. GDP has been essentially flat since the early nineties. China’s economy outstripped Japan’s for the first time last year. “And yet”, says Jeremy:
“…the lights are still on, everything still works. Literacy is high, and crime is low. Life expectancy is better than almost anywhere on earth – 82 years to the US’ 78. The trains run to the second. Unemployment is only 5%, and levels of inequality are enviable. Real per capita income growth matches America’s at 0.7% over the past decade. It’s hardly a basket case. In fact, it is living proof that growth isn’t necessary to deliver a high standard of living.”
Even though some economists are horrified at the lack of growth, others are thinking twice. If the goal of a state is to nurture and sustain its people, Japan may not be doing so badly after all. And it may turn into a model for other countries that are hitting the wall in terms of economic growth.