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30,000 Estimated Dead? That's Too Bad, but is it a Big Deal?

Simple arithmetic aside, my sympathy goes more to a greater number of people who get killed by others or kill selves every year than to those identified or presumed as dead in the once-in-a-millennium calamity of March 11. It is true that the weak should take the blame for their weakness, but it is also true that the leader of the country should be held responsible for their plight that has weakened them.

As I wrote in my post titled For Whom Kamikaze Blows, Prime Minister Naoto Kan is among those who benefited most from the earthquake of Magnitude 9.0 and 33-foot tsunami that followed it. As if to make sure that he can make the most of the windfall disaster, Kan has been exacerbating the situation by mishandling the constant drain of radioactive contaminants from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. At least, that's what he looks to be doing through his right-hand man Yukio Edano.

Inauguration of Taisei Yokusankai
on October 21, 1940

Drowsy-eyed Ministers at the
Diet session of March 29, 2011
As a result, we are now witnessing a social milieu, which has a striking resemblance to 大政翼賛会 (Taisei Yokusankai). Taisei Yokusankai is the grand coalition formed for the cause of 国体維持 (Kokutai Iji or preserving the polity centered around the Divine Emperor) on the eve of the oil embargoes imposed against Japan. If there is any difference between Taisei Yokusankai and Kan's virtual coalition that even includes the Japanese Communist Party, you can find it in these pictures. In the Diet session of March 29, where lawmakers supposedly discussed the source of the emergency relief fund, most Cabinet members, including Kan, were intermittently taking a nap.

They would say it couldn't be helped because they were so exhausted from working hard since March 11, but I am sure I've worked much harder and longer on a very demanding gig only to make ends meet despite the difficulty caused by Parkinson's Disease. Actually, these highly-paid bastards looked so dozy because they rest assured that the Kan administration, which had been on the verge of falling apart before the quake, is now getting a boost from the newly emerging monolithic political climate.

But everything else is an exact replay of Taisei Yokusankai. The mainstream media, especially reporters in 官邸記者クラブ (Kantei Kisha Kurabu or press club exclusively and collusively attached to the Prime Minister's office,) have been doing a good job just like their forerunners did in the early-1940s. Now Yukio Edano, the Cabinet spokesman, owes them a lot for their wholehearted cooperation with his 大本営発表 (Daihon-ei Happyo or press releases by the Imperial Army Headquarters.)

You may ask: "Is Kan alone in leveraging the disaster?" Good question. Actually there are many others who are taking advantage of the national tragedy.

This climate is really reminiscent of the wartime slogan "一億火の玉となって" (Ichioku Hinotama to Natte, or One Hundred Million Hearts Beat as One.) On TV we watch an endless stream of supposedly touching stories about selfless deeds. But in reality, other types of crimes than those by policymakers are now rampant across the nation, especially in the afflicted areas. Among other things, looting and charity-swindling are widespread more than ever although the media have hushed them all up.

Is there anyone else who is cashing in on the catastrophe? You bet there is: the United States of America. If Obama and his people weren't terminally ill as the Japanese are, they would have thought it's about time to pull the plug on Japan, the nation now proving unviable for the fourth time in its modern history. In fact, though, the U.S. is now sending in 450 military and non-military personnel, together with two "barges," SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters aboard USS Ronald Reagan and a "military robot" of the type used for bomb disposal in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This robot developed by a defense contractor named QinetiQ North America surprised me because until now I thought Japan is a leader in robotics. Now I have learned Japanese robots are only good at playing the violin as the one developed by Toyota or playing the role of a pet as the one manufactured by Nintendo. This is yet another confirmation that Japan's technological supremacy is nothing but a myth.

Other countries such as Israel, France, Germany and China are also lending a helping hand, but in a more modest way. Though off the subject, it was interesting to know the initial reaction of Edano, the licensed shyster, to foreign medical teams. He reportedly insisted that they should be prohibited from treating patients on the grounds that they are not licensed for medical practice here.

Japanese people who were at a loss over what to do are now exulting at the sight of foreign rescue teams arriving one after another. Especially the one from the U.S. have really heartened them. But with my longtime experience with American people, I would call their massive relief operation "fishing in troubled waters." There's no other way to explain it.

As I have already written on this website, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on February 16 in Okinawa, said: "My hope is that we will get resolution, particularly on the configuration of the airfield or the runways perhaps later this spring. And that would then allow us to go forward with our planning [to realign military forces in the region based on the agreement reached in 2006.]" The coded directive to Kan can be deciphered like this: "We can no longer tolerate your inaction and irresoluteness beyond the end of April."

Given the unexpected seismic activity, Gates's order may have to be changed, but only slightly. I am sure that the U.S. will go ahead with its plan against the will of the Okinawans before the dust settles in Miyagi, the prefecture hardest-hit by the natural calamity, and in Fukushima, the prefecture hardest-hit by the manmade disaster. Until then, the Japanese won't give a damn to what happens in Okinawa Prefecture.

This reminds me of one of my friends with quotation marks. (These days I have many foreign friends who I've had to refer to with quotation marks for an obvious reason.) His name is Benjamin Fulford. I know self-styled conservatives in America have developed allergy to "truth-seekers" like Fulford. Some of them have even hysterically warned me that my association with such a nutter will tarnish my credibility, but I don't care.

Quite expectedly, the Canadian conspiracy theorist based in Tokyo now theorizes that the devastating quake was caused by HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) based in Nevada or New Mexico, just like the Niigata Earthquake of 2007 which also caused a serious damage to the nuclear power plant located near the epicenter. I don't know if his theory is fully substantiated. Neither do I want to know. But I wouldn't be surprised if Fulford proved to be right, because it isn't hard to see the fingerprint of the CIA there.

Whether or not there was a conspiracy, I am only concerned about what's coming next from the recidivists in Washington, rather than rogues stationed in Nevada or New Mexico.

Fulford's theory about the motive this time is that "the rogue element" of the U.S. government wanted to warn Japan to take part in the TPP talks. (He has subtly changed his rhetoric since Obama became the President, but I don't see any difference between Bush and Obama. Both are villains and morons.) To me his hypothesis about the motive does not make sense at all because now it's out of the question for Kan to think about joining the TPP framework at the cost of the primary industries.

If I were the rogue element of the U.S. government, I would have intended to expedite the progress of the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps to Henoko where Ospreys, the aircraft dubbed Widow-Making Machines, will be deployed covertly.

At any rate, these are why I care more about those people who can't expect any help from the governments of Japan and the U.S.

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30,000 Estimated Dead? That's Too Bad, but is it a Big Deal? | 4 comments | Create New Account
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30,000 Estimated Dead? That's Too Bad, but Not That Big a Deal
Authored by: samwidge on Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 10:42 AM JST

I think that you are right in your criticism of government and government officers. Nonetheless, I think you have not the foggiest idea of what it is like for these people to work during a disaster.

The one disaster where I worked was far smaller but with similarities. Most of us in critical positions worked three and four days without sleep. Thereafter we could only cat-nap. We were exhausted. We trusted those about us to do the right things when we were unconscious and when we awoke, they trusted us. In normal times, some people we trusted had hated our guts and had wanted physical harm to us.

That is the way the human animal works in crisis. In easy times we bicker, whine, fib and sometimes stab each other. In disaster, we all pull together. When a disaster ends, we all fall apart. In your case, you will be seeing a sharply increased suicide rate after this is over. That is the way the human animal works in and after crisis.

Likewise, your expression, "the unexpected seismic activity" seems less than worldly. In the US we have known about Japan's many impending seismic disasters and we have known about them for years. In industry we speak of, "business as usual." In the long term of any society we must speak of disaster and death as usual.

Thinking about your recent problems and our impending problems, I tried to organize a local disaster response team to support the elderly against a variety of possibilities. People politely declined, pointing out that they were willing to await each disaster and to determine then whether or not they would suffer and die.

I know that the people in charge during those anticipated but unscheduled disasters are there only because of chance and not because of bravery or skill. Responses are, in essence, automatic, an autonomic behavior of all people.

In our disaster I had taken two of my best people to see a developing problem. We got our information and headed back with desperate urgency only to be stopped by a police officer who blocked a highway. He thought that two-feet of water might hurt my car. He was wrong, of course, but I lost time and had to improvise. My team got back just in time to save some lives.

There will be emergencies and mistakes made during those emergencies. The only thing that each of us can do is to help each other with the tools that we have. It is always a value judgement and each person could be wrong. When you are a leader, your errors can cost lives but you must make your decisions anyway.

You, as Tokyo Free Press, are a leader. You can do much for your peers. You can publish who needs help, how and why. You can show who is well and who is not. You can shoot your own neighborhood pictures from your window so that others who want to send help or avoid sending problems can do so more logically.

You can remind of the upcoming suicide problem and you can share solutions for that. You can encourage people to work together and to persevere.
30,000 Estimated Dead? That's Too Bad, but Not That Big a Deal
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 01:01 PM JST


I am a person who is extremely cautious about generalizing things. To me one of the things we should refrain from generalizing is suicide. Can you imagine the U.S. President ordering young men to do the same thing the thousands of Kamikaze pilots did in the 1940s?

According to the international comparison, the U.S. ranked No. 43 with a suicide rate of 11.0 per 100,000 people. It edged up to 11.3 by 2007. On the other hand the official suicide rate for Japan stood at 24.0/100,000 (No.6) as of 2008. According to my calculation, the rate rose to 25.2 by 2010.

The gap in suicide rate between the two countries is not as wide when compared to the gap in population density. Yet I think our perceptions and behavioral patterns in the face of a crisis are miles apart between the two countries.

You think Japan will see a sharp rise in suicide deaths after the ongoing crisis is over. But I doubt it simply because Japan's suicide rate has already hit the ceiling.

More important, the Japanese people don't feel stress under a condition which Americans would find stressful. On the contrary, they become stressed under the normal circumstance. (I think you know why.)

For the very same reason, Japanese are lousy at managing a crisis. I don't want to repeat the basics of crisis management here, but this is why Edano has handled the situation so poorly that now we are amid a manmade catastrophe.

Reportedly, Edano has had only a brief nap on the couch in his office these days. But so what? That is what we corporate warriors had been doing until the bubble burst. And, he is far better off than the homeless or "Internet cafe refugees" who even don't have a couch like me.

As Peter F. Drucker meant to say, it's the worst thing to do to work hard and long in the wrong way and on the wrong thing.

This is what I wanted to say here in this post.

Yu Yamamoto
30,000 Estimated Dead? That's Too Bad, but Not That Big a Deal
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 07:37 PM JST


The issue your thought-provoking feedback has brought up here is multifaceted. So I just wanted to add something to my previous reply.

These days laypeople keep talking very lightly about the half-life period of cesium 131, risks of radiation dosage measured in terms of Sievert or Becquerel, etc. On the contrary I am a person who respects professionals. So I admit I'm completely in the dark about these things. This is what separates me from Edano and other Japanese.

Another thing where I differ from him is that while he has legal background, I am a seasoned businessman with a lot of experience especially with financial risk management. A poverty-stricken pensioner as I am, I must admit I am a showcase of a failure in personal finances. But that does not mean my entire life was a flop. I don't think money should be singled out as the only measurement of success in life. Actually risk management, or crisis management, is what the entire life is all about.

In other areas, I have successfully minimized risks (e.g. risk of having my brain damaged, or my soul tainted) while maximizing the meaning of my life.

On the contrary lawyers such as Edano do not understand optimizing the trade-off between benefits and costs, or risks and opportunities, is what risk management is all about. Lawyers may be good at minimizing risks but I haven't met a single shyster who is good at maximizing opportunities. None of them are risk-takers. But you've got to take what we businesspeople call "calculated risks." To take a calculated risk, you sometimes have to go extralegal. Laws are not the Bible.

In fact Edano has said only one thing since Day 1 of his misplaced efforts to tame the crisis. Today he still keeps saying: "Calm down you guys, unlike international nuclear safety standards, Japanese standards are meant to make extra sure of your safety. So don't be scared of these becquerel readings which are 10,000 times as high as our safety standards."

That's how he has tried to manage the crisis. And he failed. That's why foreign experts keep coming to extend a helping hand. I don't know if it's really too late. But the single most important thing here is the fact that Edano and other Japanese people have learned absolutely nothing from this failure.

As I have already told you, Japan is a society filled with Tatemae. And these super conservative safety standards are a typical example of the Tatemae-dominated society. People are assured too easily to get prepared for the worst case scenario.

Yu Yamamoto
30,000 Estimated Dead? That's Too Bad, but Not That Big a Deal
Authored by: samwidge on Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 08:51 PM JST

I know this is an extraordinarily difficult time for all of your people. Let nothing that either you or I say demean any of the Japanese.

In tragedy I especially respect those who can be lighthearted while facing terrible things they cannot change. I am reminded of the story of a truck that lost control and was rolling down a mountainside toward two elderly people who had no way to escape. One turned to the other and said, "I certainly enjoyed meeting your children yesterday." Perhaps they knew more about life and its purpose than any of the rest of us.