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The PJ Tatler

by
Charlie Martin

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March 14, 2011 - 9:41 am

A report from inside Japan, from the Japanese company J-List:

Japan continues reeling from the aftermath of the massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake — actually a series of concurrent quakes in several regions at once — that hit just as we were preparing to send out Friday’s J-List update. The shock from the earthquake was terrible enough, but the relentless tsunamis that came crashing over the shore did an unbelievable amount of damage to several regions facing the Pacific Ocean, and the loss of life is staggering. Having seen destruction in the past in Japan, mainly the Kobe earthquake of 1995 and the Niigata quake in 2004, I thought I knew what living in a seismically unstable country was like. But the sheer scale of this disaster has been a hard lesson for all of us. On top of all the horrors being visited on the country is the malfunction of the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor, which has kept everyone on pins and needles constantly. And the aftershocks keep coming, several per hour at least…

It’s moments like these when you really see the good in people, and Japan has been touched by the outpouring of help from other countries in their hour of need — 91 countries so far. Everyone is thankful for the rescue teams coming from the U.K., South Korea, Germany, Mexico and yes, New Zealand (thank you everyone!). The U.S. brought the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and several destroyers in to airlift water, food and other needed supplies, a mission that’s been named “Operation Tomodachi” (Operation Friendship), and I saw more than a few Japanese on Twitter saying things like, “I laughed at the silly-sounding name…then I cried and cried.” There was a massive show of support on Pixiv, the Japanese artist community website, as artists from Japan and around the world created art of Miku Hatsune saying, Ganbatte, nihon! (“Do your best, Japan!”), which I’ve been posting to the J-List Facebook page with English translations. It’s been really amazing to see.

The character of the Japanese people is really visible at a time like this. While it’s common for disasters to be followed by certain desperate actions by the citizenry, e.g. looting, this idea would be unthinkable in Japan. When the quake hit, my son was in a shopping mall, and everyone ran outside holding the items they had intended to purchase. Though they could have just kept on going to their cars, everyone waited for the shaking to stop then went back inside to make their purchases before rushing home. There were no reports of looting or other problems, though basic foodstuffs and gasoline disappeared pretty quickly. In general Japan has been extremely calm and collected considering what they’ve been up against.

And efficient! Amazingly, life is already returning to normal in Tokyo, although there’s still confusion about how the rolling blackouts that are threatening to turn off power to portions of the country will unfold. (They were supposed to start today, but there have been none. We’re sure they’ll start tomorrow..) When we asked the post office about shipping delays with J-List international packages, they replied, “There will be none.” (The post office even came to collect the outgoing packages this morning, same as they always do.) We called the various distributors we deal with to make sure they were safe, and all of them were fine, operating normally and shipping products to us without delays. Our minds are quite blown by the speed with which most of the country is returning to work, though for the affected regions have years of rebuilding ahead of them. (We’ll post updates if it appears there will be new delays in shipping products.)

Charlie Martin writes on science, health, culture and technology for PJ Media. Follow his 13 week diet and exercise experiment on Facebook and at PJ Lifestyle
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