Sayuri Okamoto, contributing editor to Asymptote, emailed this from Japan on Tuesday and I asked her if I could post the text here. I hope that all of the events of the past few years cause the industrial world to reflect on our current path.
As you all have probably known already, the quake hit northern east area of Japanese main island was terrible, and the disaster after tsunamis was utterly merciless. Despite many rescue teams which your countries (thank you Singapore, the US, and many others) have sent, many people are still “missing” in the coastal area. (The news reports are switching the expression now; I saw one report on TV which finally used the word “death toll” to report the number of people missed.) There are also almost two hundred thousand people evacuated: some are losing houses, and others are being ordered by the government to leave because of the leaking from the nuclear power plant which exploded.
Afterquakes are still happening since last Friday, both in the exact region where the biggest quake happened, and in western areas including Tokyo and Shizuoka, my hometown where I am now. The center of the shock is moving down to the west, and it’s said that the bigger earth quake which has been anticipated to burst within ten years in Shizuoka could be triggered. Everyone in Japan knows about the possible Shizuoka quake which has been talked about as potentially being the biggest-ever earthquake in Japan. Many of us are now worrying about this too.
Compared to the disaster in the northern east area, the physical damages in Tokyo (as well as in my home town Shizuoka) are trivial, at least for me. We endure the controlled power cut of the electricity. Stores lack foods. Gas stations are closed. Trains don’t run as punctually and frequently as they do usually. Traffic lights are not working during the power cuts. The stock prices of Japanese companies have devastatingly declined.
But none of these are that serious. We can survive, and have survived.
This may sound bizarre for most of you: There are some Japanese, including me, who see the earthquake as a kind of alarm sounded by nature. We think that we are being told “You are doing something wrong and you’d better change your direction”.
Is that “something wrong” capitalism? The election in which we chose the now-leading party? The leading party itself? Is it people’s self-centered way of thinking? Our education systems?
No one has the answer.
But finding that we are a nation who can show amazing solidarity under these disastrous conditions, I feel we may be able to find an answer and to change our behavior.
Honestly though, after saying all of the above, I am still upset. I can’t concentrate on anything properly now, and I can’t write things down even in Japanese logically.
What should I do?
What else can I do?
What have I done in my life to help people in this kind of crucial situation?
I repeat these questions to myself.
I can’t say in words how much we are appreciative of receiving millions of messages of encouragement, emergency aid, and donations from many countries both personally and officially. I can’t tell you enough how many Japanese cried with greatest gratitude for your messages and your help, and how we are grateful.
Every time I receive messages from friends, read articles, and watch the news about actions people are taking in many countries, I can’t stop crying with my deepest appreciation.
We shall never forget your great supports, and I shall never forget messages my friends have sent to me.