the Curious case of Japan!!




[ Its been a year since Japan was struck by a massive earthquake and Tsunami, killing thousands and unleashing a nuclear crisis.  Japan has moved on; like it always did after a calamity. I had written this article a year ago on its people and how normalcy is back in the camp.]

Calamities may wreck Japan


but not the Japanese spirit


In a span of less than a decade, two worlds- with different geography, ethics, culture and attitudes of people witnessed calamities of magnitudes akin to each other. So in this dreadful situation of having struck by a devastating disaster, the extent and mileage of its aftermath becomes an issue that needs to be addressed appropriately. This will be viewed as a direct consequence of people’s attitude. In this article I compare the attitudes of people of two of these worlds- India(in 2004) and Japan(in 2011) when they became victims to nature’s fury in the form of Tsunami and earthquakes.

The land of the rising sun, Japan is not new to facing calamities of this magnitude. Dreadful nuclear bomb drops in two of its premier cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, frequent earthquakes, severe floods and what not, have had massive tolls on its people. In fact Japan witnesses the maximum earthquakes in a year than any other region in the world. So in spite of all this, what makes Japan ,the one it is now? What makes it the epicenter of major electronic summits? What makes some of its brands- SONY, PANASONIC, SUZUKI and NISSAN to unleash themselves? And how does the city of Hiroshima after being blown up to nothing in the second world war has bounced back to host a sporting spectacle- the Asian Games in 1994? 

Photo Courtesy: Google Images

There are two typically Japanese and exceptional factors that leaves millions in the world spellbound. First, the mentally tough and strong nature makes them the overwhelming favorites when it comes to handling disaster management lessons for people across the world. Japanese people preach calm evacuation techniques and ‘be cool’ approach once a disaster strikes. And quietly they try to come back to normal again with their strong resolves. The word ‘panic’ is literally out of their dictionaries. Right from very early in their childhood, the qualities of facing the inevitable boldly and sensibly are deeply imprinted in their minds. A catastrophe might  wreck parts of Japan but not the Japanese resolve.

Second, people in this beautiful country have never allowed situations to get on top of them. They never give room for any compromises in their characters. A news agency movingly quoted,” One small shop can serve as a good example of what is going on in the city. The shop has all its windows and its glass door broken. There is an ATM and shelves with food products inside and no one is guarding it. However, nothing has been looted”. It is this character of theirs, the integrity of theirs that makes everyone to stand up and salute. Its people always preached the 3-D’s – discipline, decorum and dignity  combined with a burning desire to make things happen. In testing times, selflessness becomes their motto. This virtue of helping others first in troubled times have brought them to where they are now especially after the vacuum that developed due to the ‘Little boy’ and ‘Fat man’ effects. And the entire world knows the Japanese will bounce back  this time too.

And its worth highlighting the Japanese hospitality too. Even when the chips are down, they treat their guests like one among them. In fact many restaurants were offering meals to its guests absolutely free. Who knows there might be an Indian influencing them with the concept of ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’.

Having really moved by the way the Japanese responded to crises, I  thought it would be worth comparing the much hyped Indian attitudes as well. We somehow represent the other end of the spectrum when it comes to crisis handling and also in the progress that we make after it. Nagapattinam, the city that was one of the worst affected by the Tsunami is still trying hard to come to terms. We panic all too sooner. The days , if not hours after a disaster are nothing but chaos.  There will be all sorts of breakdowns – of rules and what not. Some cash in on it big time. There will be irregularities in the financial and material aids that come in. We probably will go down as the only country where there are cases pending in its courts for misuse of funds that come as relief for a disaster.

So its high time that we take a leaf out of a book called ‘JAPAN’ because if a country with a population of around 1 crore is able to rise like a sun from the debris, why not a country with its manpower 100 times the former?

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