The catastrophe that has happened in Japan over the past few days will not prevent the Japanese people from recovering. It will take a bit longer in comparison to the Kobe earthquake of 1995, but recover they will. Japan is unfortunate to be situated in an area that is prone to natural disasters whether they be earthquakes or tsunamis. The fact that tsunami is a Japanese word is testimony to the fact that the country has lived with this threat of calamity for thousands of years, and will continue to do so for a long time to come.
During the Second World War Japan came under nuclear attack from the United States. It remains the only country in the world ever to have suffered the effects of a nuclear bomb. As a result the country was devastated. But since the end of that conflict over 60 years ago, the country has managed to rebuild its infrastructure in a spectacular way. Its economic foundation is now amongst the strongest in the world. This has been due to the hard work and ingenuity of the Japanese people. In less than two decades, Japan was transformed from a war-wrecked nation into one of the world’s great economic achievers. That kind of fortitude was still evident, even before last week’s disaster, and even as Japan witnessed China ― a recipient of Japanese economic assistance for over three decades ― overtake it to become the world’s second largest economic power.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan was right when he said that Japan has been put to test again with this latest calamity. Under crisis and pressure there is no doubt that the Japanese people will remain calm and follow their leaders. There is no panic whatsoever. But Kan’s government must formulate a clear plan to rebuild the country again.
The most worrying repercussion of this tragedy is the issue related to nuclear energy. The incidents at the damaged nuclear plants in Fukushima have raised concerns among the Japanese about their safety and the use of nuclear energy. Japan consumes huge amounts of electricity, so there will be an urgent need to cut down on consumption and make savings on this front. So far the government and the nuclear plant operators have done a good job in handling the critical conditions in a transparent manner. Japan’s record of peaceful use of nuclear energy has been quite exemplary.
It was unfortunate that the mammoth disaster struck Japan at this point in time, as the country is trying to reshape its regional and global roles. This inevitably will delay Japan’s diplomatic activities around the world. Financial contributions to major peacekeeping efforts and foreign aid assistance will need to be reassessed as the focus now turns to domestic recovery. But the rehabilitation of the devastated areas will again stimulate the stagnant economy and help the region’s overall economic well-being.
The outpouring of international assistance and sympathy for the victims and the Kan government is good testimony that Japan is a country well respected in the international community. For decades, Japan has unselfishly donated huge amounts of foreign assistance to developing countries around the world, including for peacekeeping activities, charitable efforts and economic development. At this time of crisis, Japan will welcome any and all help offered by its friends around the world without delay and without shame - perhaps a reflection of the lesson learned after the Kobe earthquake when Japan was reluctant to take in foreign assistance.
As a result, Japan’s recovery will be faster and beneficial to global economic recovery as a whole.
(Editorial, The Nation)
(Asia News Network)