3/11 was the Final Wake-up Call for Stakeholders of Japan

Saturday, April 16 2011 @ 06:36 PM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto


On April 15, TEPCO's president Masataka Shimizu
(center) offered a sincere apology. No one could
tell to whom he offered it, and what about because
it was just part of a ritual.
As of April 16, 13,551 have been identified as dead and 14,563 as missing. Obviously there are another thousands for whom even missing person reports haven't been filed. Are they all who have suffered from the disaster? Not at all. There are some 500,000 evacuees who have been confined in shelters for more than one month, and the 241 faceless/nameless personnel who have been left inside the premises of TEPCO's Fukushima No. 1 Plant to perform an inane suicide mission there.

And don't forget that dozens of people who had survived the quake and tsunami have died in shelters.

And of course these TEPCO employees and subcontractors are not alone in being heavily exposed to radioactive materials. There can be thousands or tens of thousands of people who were, or are going to be killed by radiation. For instance, recent reports from foreign media have it that there are an unknown number of corpses of tsunami victims lying on the ground near the power plant. But who knows the real cause of their death?

Actually the list of those who suffered from 3/11 goes on and on.

As recently as April 15, the Prime Minister told the TEPCO to work on a blueprint to end the crisis. This was yet another telling evidence that from the beginning Kan had not used a systematic approach toward the crisis. TEPCO's response was equally stupid. President Masataka Shimizu, who had holed up in a "hospital" for weeks, appeared before press corps to offer "sincere apologies." As to the blueprint, he said to the effect that his company would develop a specific action plan "as soon as possible." In short, they didn't know what for they ordered these 241 employees to risk their lives inside the facility of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant. This is why I have likened these guys kamikaze pilots.

Now that things are getting real ugly across the nation, let me recapitulate what exactly happened before, on, and after March 11.

Before 3/11: Naoto Kan was already faltering because of his total incompetence. But still he could withstand calls for his resignation because of the strong backing from the major opposition Liberal Democratic Party and the U.S. government which thought the inept Prime Minister was the ideal person to carry through the plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' air station from Futenma to Henoko against the will of the Okinawans. Under the special circumstances, the big quake and tsunami were a real manna. The Japanese traditionally call such a blessing kamikaze, or divine wind.

3/11: As Mr. Takashi Hirose has already pointed out, what happened on that day was not a once-in-a-millennium calamity. The magnitude of the tremor was artificially inflated to 9.0 but it was actually 8.3 or 8.4. Tsunami was not unprecedented, either. Initial reports had it the maximum height reached 33 ft. Later it was unofficially revised to 75 ft. But Hirose has reminded us that in 1896, for instance, a 125 ft tsunami was observed.

After 3/11: It's quite natural that Kan's administration, which had not been able to manage even the pre-quake "normal" situation, was now at a loss over how to handle the post-quake emergency. Defying every rule of crisis management, he acted in a haphazard way and at a snail's pace. Also he failed to prepare his people for the worst case scenario, by constantly disseminating his wishful thinking. On the other hand, members of Kisha Kurabu (the press club) physically attached to the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Company, along with other reporters, editors, and their favorite "experts," kept covering up or fabricating critical information. No wonder that the natural disaster quickly turned into a full-fledged man-made catastrophe.

Obviously, Kan, looters and charity-swindlers are not alone in benefiting a lot from the disaster. As we saw in the vacuum of laws of the postwar era, there are a lot of "legitimate" business opportunities for corrupt construction companies and many others. But on the other hand, hundreds of thousands of survivors are still going through the horrible plight in evacuation centers because of the inaction on the part of the government. Kan and his men have talked a lot about relief measures but they have delivered practically nothing on their promises.

It is true that there are a small number of individuals and organizations in Japan and foreign countries such as Taiwan, Israel and China that have offered genuinely spontaneous and selfless support. It's really heartwarming to see them. Especially I was touched by Mr. Masayoshi Son, founder of SoftBank. When the ethnic Korean announced that he would donate 10 billion yen ($120 million) plus all salaries and bonuses he will receive until his retirement, many cynics said that 10 billion is practically nothing for the richest Japanese. But they were absolutely wrong; it's these second-rate musicians who are giving charity concerts, those who attend them, or those who are complacent about their lip service and token donations that are doing nothing.

Unfortunately, though, real altruists are rare exceptions.

The climate where a false sense of unity and solidarity prevails has made me feel like playing devil's advocate. That is why I wrote on this website: "30,000 estimated dead? That's too bad, but it's not a big deal." This really brings me to the issue with suicide, although I know you think it's totally irrelevant here.

Actually most of you think those who have a tendency toward killing self are mentally ill, and in that sense, they deserve to be dead this way. But how can you be so sure that you are mentally sound? That's nothing more than an opportunistic self-diagnosis. If you are one of those people who have never pondered about the life-and-death issue in your lifetime, you better shut your mouth not only over those who committed suicide, but also those who got killed by quakes and tsunami in order to save your crocodile tears. And if you think those thousands of kamikaze pilots, who sacrificed their lives for the bastard in the Imperial Palace, were just mentally ill, you should stop talking about history, too.

In 2010 alone, 31,690 Japanese committed suicide. Japan's suicide rate was more than twice as high as in the U.S. and almost double that of China. Moreover, as John Nathan quoted Yoshi Yamamoto, Director of the Mental Health Center of Yokohama Hospital, as saying in his 2004 book titled Japan Unbound, "some 5 million Japanese are contemplating suicide at any given moment."

I hope you can do simple arithmetic here. Aside from these potential suicides, which number is larger, more than 30,000 who kill themselves every year, or another 30,000 who were victimized by the "once-in-a-millennium" disaster? According to my calculation, the former is 1,000-times larger.

Let's face it; this is exactly where lies the real problem with Japan. In this failed nation, the poorer the leader performs, the longer he can stay in power. Had it not been for his incompetence amplified by the disaster, Kan's administration would have fallen apart months ago. The administrations of Abe, Fukuda, Aso and Hatoyama were so short-lived simply because no major earthquake hit this nation during their aborted tenures.

The same applies to the entire nation.

It's none of my business, but if I were one of those Americans who hold monetary. ideological or emotional stake in this country, I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to write it off altogether.

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