Editorial – Japan in Crisis

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The devastation of the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan last Friday continues to unfold more horror. Despite Japan’s legendary preparedness for such natural disasters, the magnitude of the tragedy is beyond belief and worse still, has not come to a conclusion as yet. As if the massive destructions caused by the massive earthquake followed by the tsunami are not enough, the island nation is faced with the prospect of a nuclear disaster now, with two of its nuclear power plants having suffered meltdowns and a third in danger of following suit. There have been also reports of nuclear material leakages and 20 people are already being treated for radioactive poisoning. Although the Japanese government has assured there is no likelihood of a full blown nuclear explosion and crisis, from any of the plants, for those who are in danger, as well as the rest of the world, this is hardly any consolation. We however hope the Japanese government’s optimism is well founded and the situation comes under control without further catastrophe added to the already grim situation. The death toll is still not confirmed yet, but it is believed it could be several thousands. Millions however are left homeless on the streets, depending on government ration to survive.
The Japan experience has raised question on the wisdom of resorting to nuclear power. Japan is one the countries which relies heavily on nuclear power and until natural disaster like the one on Friday happened, the country had become the alibi for nuclear energy campaigners to claim state-of-art technology available today have sealed all dangers involved in resorting to tapping this energy. But this opinion is being severely tested now. Other countries which also heavily rely on nuclear energy, such as France and Germany are already being made to rethink. With the growing need for energy all around the world, it remains to be seen if the danger involved is able to cancel out this need. The dilemma however will be greatly reduced if an alternative, viable and substantive source is found soon. We hope the current Japanese disaster will be the trigger for intensifying the search for this alternative in an international effort, so that in retrospect, history will be able to at least write a consolatory epitaph for the Japanese disaster victims that of their losses a new and safer world was born.
The disaster also has exposed how fragile life is. An advanced nation and an economic power of the world has been thrown all of a sudden into the throes of not just a physical, but a moral crisis. Japan no doubt would get over its physical losses. It is rich and moreover the rest of the world would stand by it in its recovery efforts. Above all this, Japan’s inner resilience is well known by the world. Otherwise, an island nation with little or no natural resources, and after having suffered two atom bombs ever dropped on human habitations in the history of mankind, could not have come up to where it stands today. Until only two months ago when China took over its GDP in terms of size, it was the second largest economy of the world after the United States of America. In term per capita GDP of course Japan would still be comfortable in the second place. But the challenge is also of a depleted morale, as in any disaster, but especially so in the case of the current Japanese crisis. The question in the minds of the average Japanese would be what if another earthquake hits? Japan after all is in the ring of fire that delineates the most earthquake prone regions on the globe. This thought of another, or worse still repeated nightmares like the one being faced now, cannot by any stretch of imagination be easy to overcome for anybody, even the most courageous. What the Japanese people would need now is a superhuman will and resilience to fight back and recover its confidence. While this seems like a no mean task, Japan has been known to indeed throw up superhuman strength in times of its crises. We hope and pray that this inner strength and resilience that has kept Japan on top through history will not desert the nation in its fight to pick itself up and find its feet again.

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