Skip to main content

Japan will be able to recover

I received news of last Friday's 8.9 magnitude earthquake on Manila Bay since I was supposed to go on a boat and check my research sites. The skipper got a tsunami warning and so the boat ride was cancelled. At the office 30 minutes later, I was able to view in real time the arrival of the first tsunamis. In one video feed, I saw one town completely obliterated by the waves. Then came the videos of the unfolding Fukushima nuclear disaster, where the earthquake destroyed the reactors' backup power systems and that exploding nuclear reactor building. The exploding reactor building is now iconic. It permanently nukes the claim that nuclear power is disaster-proof and safe!

Japan by destiny gives us reasons to really go No Nukes. The photos of the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 are iconic and so is the mushroom cloud over Fukushima's nuclear reactor. Japan renounced war and nuclear weapons and perhaps Japan may renounce nuclear energy, the first industrialized nation to do so.

The disaster has now become news fare for many Filipinos. This must be the first mega-disaster that Filipinos saw in real time. It is probably the first globalized natural disaster and this is the reason why an SMS rumor about a radioactive cloud drifting towards Manila made people panic buy Betadine!

Seriously, the disaster has become personal for me since I received news that some of my research colleagues were casualties of the tsunami in northeast Japan, where I trained in 2004. But I believe that the Japanese will be able to recover.

First of all the Japanese have experienced worse situations. The American defeat of Imperial Japan in 1945 proved that Japanese society can endure what their Emperor then described as "the unendurable". The Japanese will be able to endure this present one. So far to the amazement of everyone on the planet (save for the Japanese), there was no breakdown in law and order. The Japanese queued without a word for relief goods. They followed their Prime Minister.

But as the governor of Fukushima said, there may be a limit to this resilience as the disaster goes into its 2nd week. This necessitated a remarkable address of the Emperor Akihito to his people. This is the first time that a reigning Sovereign addressed his people since 1945, when his father the Emperor Showa announced Japan's surrender. The Emperor is rarely heard by the public except in giving New Year's greetings. This is the first time that an Emperor gave an address live on TV.

The unprecedented address of the Emperor is a sign that the government is having a hard time in managing the situation as Japan faces three disasters, earthquake (still on going), tsunami (a persistent threat) and nuclear meltdown (extremely critical). The Emperor under Japan's constitution is the "symbol of the State and unity of the people" and has no political role whatsoever except for ceremonial duties. Thus his address in its vastly understated words like "deep concern" is really an expression of grave worry and displeasure at the government.

The Prime Minister's statements have been criticized by mostly non Japanese as vague and some have suspected a cover up. However like the Emperor, the words are understated as expected in Japanese society and they are not meant to alarm Japan's citizens. But as one who knows Japan, the words really express exasperation and berate the appropriate authorities in their handling of the crisis. Surely how democratic Japan will judge the present government will be seen in the next election of the Diet.

But given the present state of things, Japanese society, their government and Emperor have done their roles very well. These respect of appropriate roles is a plus in their road to recovery, which I expect to be short, within 5 years. The Japanese have not as a reflex action sought foreign assistance. They have now done so but in dealing with the Fukushima nuclear accident which is a worst case scenario of safety system failure.

One thing is that there is no Japanese politician who grandstands in this unfolding story. The Emperor has set the example.


Popular posts from this blog

Kartilla of the Katipunan

In celebration of Andres Bonifacio Day on Nov 30, I am blogging my English translation of the Katipunan's Code of Ethics or Kartilla (Kartilya). Recruits to the revolutionary association had to learn these by heart. The code was first written by Emilio Jacinto. The Kartilya remains as relevant today as in 1896 .

My apologies for errors in translation. I know there are better translations than this one.

1) A life not spent for a holy and noble cause is like a tree without shade or a noxious weed.

2) Acts that stem from pride and selfishness do not come from a desire to help others..

3) True holiness comes from helping others, charity towards others and the measure of such is in each reasonable act or word.

4) Dark or white your skin may be, all men are equal though one may be greater in knowledge, material wealth, beauty these do not add to one’s humanity.

5) Those who are men of goodwill put honour before concern for self and those who do no good puts the self before honour.

6) For an ho…

President Manuel Luis Quezon's Code of Ethics

Being a denizen of Kyusi, in honour of the man who gave my city its name and for being the most colourful prez the Philippines ever had, I have the pleasure to post Manuel L Quezon's Code of Ethics on his birthday. Let us profit from the wisdom of the Kastila.

1. Have Faith in the Divine Providence that guides the destinies of men and nations.

2. Love your country for it is the home of your people, the seat of your affection and the source of your happiness and well-being. It's defense is your primary duty. Be ready to sacrifice and die for it if necessary.

3. Respect the Constitution which is the expression of your sovereign will. The government is your government. It has been established for your safety and welfare. Obey the laws and see that they are observed by all and that public officials comply with their duties.

4. Pay your taxes willingly and promptly. Citizenship implies not only rights but obligations.

5. Safeguard the purity of suffrage and abide by the decisions of the…

Simoun's lamp has been lit, finally.. not by one but by the many!

"So often have we been haunted by the spectre of subversion which, with some fostering, has come to be a positive and real being, whose very name steals our serenity and makes us commit the greatest blunders... If before the reality, instead of changing the fear of one is increased, and the confusion of the other is exacerbated, then they must be left in the hands of time..."
Dr Jose Rizal "To the Filipino People and their Government"
Jose Rizal dominates the Luneta, which is sacred to the Philippine nation as a place of martyrdom. And many perhaps all of those executed in the Luneta, with the exception of the three Filipino secular priests martyred in 1872, have read Rizal's El Filibusterismo. Dr Rizal's second novel is a darker and more sinister one that its prequel but has much significance across the century and more after it was published for it preaches the need for revolution with caveats,  which are when the time is right and who will instigate it.