At least, we heard from the Japanese government that their responses were too underwhelming to match the size of March-11th-2011 quake.
Back in 79, officials released piecemeal information out of Harrisburg, PA about nuclear reactors and radiation leaks (I happened to wire the mike and test the sound before the live taping of then Governor Dick Thornburgh).
That event happened a few years after my family and I had heard the official version from then South Vietnamese government to stay indoors due to 24-hr imposed curfew.
Finally, in recent memory, we were intoxicated with pitches from dot.com to real estate peddlers, that prices would always go up and that we should have bought “yesterday”.
Burned and churned. Except that we have no place to hide within our Eco System.
We got mobile apps, but we have no mobility.
Tsunamis, like recession, happened more often, and clustered together
within the past 14 months.
I heard the word “evacuation” quite often in my life time.
For me, the string started in 1975 and as mentioned, 79 in PA.
Then came the self-evacuation of the so-called Boat People in 81 which I turned around to help out.
In 1995 I lived near Northridge and got shaken by the Southern California earthquake in my sleep.
It was scary. Now, put those experiences together, I can relate to evacuees of the Japanese three-punch disaster : earth quake, tsunami and radiation.
It takes years for victims to recover, if at all.
Disaster, denial and the damages (now estimated at 350 Billion).
The sadness of being uprooted.
Of losing those that were near and dear to you.
Homelessness is a state of mind.
You can seek shelter, under a roof, but you can never come home again.
Years later, when I visited my mom in the nursing home, I had to sign in as a “visitor”.
Evacuees always told themselves that this was just a temporary arrangement until the situation is back to normal. They will keep telling themselves that they will someday rebuild the past to its former glory. But it’s just a dream, and more to it, a denial.
Moreover, the damage of denial doesn’t just stop with financial costs. Other hidden costs such as being uprooted, self-alienation and crisis of confidence.
It’s not just possession that counts. It’s a person’s attachment to possession
long after they are wiped out (savings in safes are found floating ashore along with bodies). Japanese are known to be quite attached to the land.
A recent survey shows junior executives in Japan just don’t like to be sent overseas even when it’s all-paid-for tuition during their stint abroad.
They like to stay put, to derive their significance and social acceptance from the collective society. Ironically, it’s their near-homogeneous and aging culture, translated to national pride, that we hardly heard of any incident of looting (au contraire, a 9-year-old orphan even surrendered his ration which someone gave him out of turn, to get back in line awaiting his turn). Blanket-wrapped “evacuees” like that boy, will have to seek temporary homes in schools built on high ground , just stop short of waving the “Help Us” signs once seen from Air Force One flyby during Katrina.
When heads roll, as they always will in that region (Japan Airline President committed suicide over a plane crash) we will see the real phoenix rising from the ash. I couldn’t help admire the scene where fire fighters got their”kamikaze” pep talk before driving into and spraying water inside the now-disastrous nuclear zone (as of this edit, it is upgraded to level 7).
Take it as a lesson learned. When it comes to dealing with disaster, in this Twitter age, the best PR is a spin-free version. Anything less furthers the damage.
P.S.As of this edit, the nuclear advisor to Prime Minister Kan resigned, seeing “no point of being there”.