Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan Disaster - Japanese inspired, angered, resigned

Today, Tuesday March 15, 2011, Page 8 (Japan Disaster)
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Agencies, 04:46 AM Mar 15, 2011

PHOTO: Japan earthquake and tsunami
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TOKYO - While images of brutal destruction wreaked by a devastating earthquake and tsunami have stunned the nation and the world, the Japanese are finding both inspiration and reasons to vent in the aftermath of the disaster.

One sentiment that is emerging is that such a calamitous event could occur again at any time, in any place.

PHOTO: Residents buying food at a temporary supermarket in Sendai. REUTERS
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Today, Tuesday March 15, 2011, Page 8 (Japan Disaster)

"We don't know when it will happen to us," said Mr Masatoshi Masuda, 52, a seal carver in the south-west city of Kagoshima, far from the deadly, 3m-high waves that surged across farmland, villages and cities in Japan's north-east on Friday.

PHOTO: Twin shocks at stricken nuclear plant A grief-stricken woman amidst the destruction in Natori, northern Japan. AP Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd
Today, Tuesday March 15, 2011, News, Page 1 (Japan Disaster)

Mr Masuda noted that an active volcano, Mount Sakurajima, spews ash onto Kagoshima almost daily. And not far away is Shinmoedake, another volcano that began erupting in late January in its most significant activity in some 300 years.

"We're worried about what will happen next time," Mr Masuda said. "But whatever happens, it won't be a surprise."

A clearer picture of the deaths from the massive quake was emerging with estimates reaching at least 10,000, and damage at least in the tens of billions of dollars.

PHOTO: Buildings burn in Yamada town, Iwate prefecture (state) after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake hit Friday. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Letters to the editor printed in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper on Sunday ran through a range of emotions, from praising the spirit of extending helping hands to strangers to fuming about why infrastructure could collapse in this technologically-advanced country.

Ms Akiko Takushima, 46, of Yokohama, which neighbours Tokyo, said the tragedy brought out the best in people. She was forced to walk for more than six hours to get home on Friday night when train service in the Tokyo region was shut down.

PHOTO: Japan-Earthquake-3 Tsunami Hits Japan After 8.9 Earthquake! By Adele | Published March 11, 2011 | Full size is 980 × 552 pixels

"It was terrible but I was touched by many warm hearts along the way," she said, singling out people who served passers-by tea or recharged mobile phone batteries.

Others found things with which to find fault.

Mr Naohiro Hoshina, a 47-year-old worker with a shipping company in Fujisawa, west of Tokyo, wished tsunami victims a swift recovery but fumed at how local mobile phone systems had failed. "Isn't the basic point of having a mobile phone to make phone calls?" he asked.

PHOTO: The globe was rocked by the news March 11, as an 8.9 earthquake in Japan caused widespread destruction and set off a 23-foot Pacific tsunami. This has been called the fifth largest earthquake in recorded history.

Government aid efforts have also fallen short, Ms Akemi Kanno said on Sunday in Rikuzentakata, a town in the north-east prefecture of Iwate that was devastated by the tsunami.

"At the quake response headquarters, they are not providing food. All the lifelines are down," Ms Kanno, 53, told Reuters.

"I went to the headquarters but the mayor was standing outside laughing, and that made me upset," she said. "I do not know what the national government is doing."

PHOTO: Earthquake hits Japan

Ms Naomi Shioda, 52, from Niigata City, said she trusted the authorities. "I think the government understands the best. So, it is in the best position to speak and to save lives."

While some Japanese living near one of the nuclear reactors have fled their homes, most people, however, do not have anywhere to go and are stuck where they are until help arrives.

But spirits remain high among people.

PHOTO: Japan earthquake and tsunami

"People are resilient here and used to earthquakes," said Mr Robert Murphy in Fukushima City, the capital of the prefecture and home to the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant, where the threat of a meltdown looms large.

"But I have to say that this quake, and the tsunami and nuclear incidents, have startled people far more than usual."
By Agencies, 04:46 AM Mar 15, 2011

PHOTO: The devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami across Japan.