Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 9th, 2011
Hi Blog. Check out this Asahi Shinbun editorial (Japanese, then English), which offers an assessment of the victimization of Japan by 3/11, and insinuates that NJ in Japan are deserting us in our time of need:
Official English translation:
VOX POPULI: Japanese survivors have nowhere to flee to
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun.
This past weekend, there were fewer foreigners than usual to be seen in Tokyo’s typically busy Ginza and Omotesando districts. Not just tourists from abroad scrambled to leave Japan, but also business travelers, students and reportedly even diplomats.
While I am deeply grateful to people around the world for their moral and material support, I understand too well that rebuilding our country is ultimately the task of none but the Japanese.
We haven’t yet got a total picture of the extent of damage wrought by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Elderly people continue to die at evacuation centers and hospitals. At the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, four reactors are taking turns in acting up.
The megaquake occurred 10 days ago, but it is still tormenting its victims, having unleashed twin monsters of a gigantic tsunami and a nuclear crisis.
On March 11, normal life fell apart in many ways, big and small. Rolling power outages have become routine in the Kanto region, where supermarket shelves are noticeably bare. Even in the Kansai region, which suffered no damage, people are reportedly hoarding gasoline and batteries. All over Japan, people are scared.
In towns that have been reduced to rubble, survivors mourn their lost loved ones, hanging on to what they remember of them before the muddy tsunami waves claimed them.
“You want to cry, but you can’t,” said a head nurse at a hospital. A survivor herself, she is risking her own life to save others.
Time is irreversible, and I feel the pain of these people. I will stand by them in spirit as they face further hardship in the days to come.
One week after the earthquake and tsunami, the Tokyo Sky Tree, now under construction in the capital’s Sumida Ward, reached its full height of 634 meters. When it surpassed Tokyo Tower in height a year ago, I noted in this column, “From that height, I would like to see Japan outgrow its introverted mentality and start moving again.”
The starting line will have to be moved back considerably. But just as people experience a sudden surge of superhuman power when their backs are against the wall, the deeper our country is steeped in crisis, the greater our ability will be to rebound.
Let us all believe that, and let us stand by our fellow citizens who survived the catastrophe. We have nowhere to go back to, except this country of ours, which we must rebuild again out of the rubble.
–The Asahi Shimbun, March 20, 2011. ENDS
COMMENT: Now, some may excuse this as a strained column created by a tired journalist during a time of great national stress. But my point is that it’s interesting what stress brings out in influential public forums — in this case, a knee-jerk belief that NJ in particular (with the assumption that Japanese are constrained from fleeing themselves) are fleeing, not helping, and have no investment in this society. How insulting, especially in light of how many NJ are also pitching in. Also, the clear and nasty assertion that it’s only the Japanese who can rebuild Japan (made also by PM Kan in his speeches) seems not only callously ethnocentric, but also in error in light all the assistance Japan has been gratefully accepting from the world.
Funny isn’t it? We want NJ to come here, pay taxes, live under a legal regime that does not guarantee equal protection for extranationals under the law or protect against racial discrimination and hate speech, have them pick our strawberries and shovel our pig sties, and keep our strained labor markets cheap (while insinuating that they’re only here to profit off our rich society). Yet as soon as disaster strikes — be it a financial crisis or a devastating earthquake — NJ are suspected as poisoners of the well (1923) or involved in criminal gangs (I’ll get to that in a later blog post), even offered tax monies for plane tickets home. Or, now in this case, decried as apparent deserters when they do leave. Can’t win, can we? Arudou Debito