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Doubts and Damages
Doubts and Damages.jpg

The article, "Question Tomodachi's True Value" appeared on page 3 of the April 7th Asahi newspaper.  According to the paper, the Japanese government officials are extremely dissatisfied with the way the U.S. handled in the face of the disaster.  Tomodachi means friends, and the name of a new U.S. army operation for the earthquake.  I expected such article eventually, but I was surprised to see it already.

The body of the article is as follows including my interpretation:

The U.S. changed her stance from waiting for Japan to come forward for help to pushing her way in.  The U.S. was getting frustrated with the Japanese government and being doubtful because Japan was not accepting the U.S. offer of support.

The above issue happened in Kobe earthquake, so the old issue was a matter of time to come up.  In fact, I was discussing about it with a Red Roomer through email at the beginning of the event.

The article said the U.S. went on her way without consulting with Japan.  

My interpretation of the next paragraph:  If the U.S. were truly a friend of Japan, President Obama would have consulted with PM Kan before going out blasting his heroic 80 km zone requirement and providing chartered jets for 9000 Americans to go home. 

Japanese officials' complaints were,

"The U.S. should have consulted with Japan beforehand."

"They probably think Japan as an underdeveloped nation."

There was also tension between the two countries about America's offer of robot to work in the radioactive environment in the nuclear plant.  

I don't know what happened, but the robot idea sounds super great.  Why-don't-you-accept-it probably came first rather than thinking of other's situation.

Then, the U.S. pressed Japan asking if Japan had a strategy, and whether Japan had preparation for crisis. 

This is my opinion.  I think those questions are out of place and occasion.  It was during the national crisis.  Asking such questions to the head of Japan does not show good spirit of support.  That is not a manifestation of good global teamwork.  If the nuclear power plant 60 km away from Manhattan was hit by 9.0 earthquake and tsunami and lost all the powers including emergency diesel power, what does President Obama would do?  I wonder how he feels if PM Kan asks, "Do you have a strategy?  Are you prepared for this?" 

Some Japanese official made comment on this issue. "This is because we have differences in making decisions.  The American way is top-down approach, but Japanese way is bottom up."  He insinuated the difference in culture. 

Yes, I agree that there are differences in cultures and languages.  But, this is more about President Obama's personality than the American way, and also I believe President Obama was not well informed.  I had worked with such a personality once facing a systems disaster.  That engineer was frustrated because I moved in a snail pace.  When I looked back on that crisis, he did what he did because he didn't have all the information.  And at the time, I had no capacity to explain well while thinking of a solution.

The negative consequences of President Obama's sweeping actions shot and spread more fear to the international communities and also Japanese citizens.  Damages have already made.  Farmers had thrown away their vegetables even though their products passed the requirement.  Fear and tainted reputation climbed overnight supported by inadequate, erroneous, and sensational foreign news.

30 or so foreign consulates including Nepal moved their offices out of Tokyo.  It is interesting to note that Japanese announcers keep including Nepal in this picture because Nepal is the only Asian country joined in this move. 

In the meantime, the government is expanding radiation monitoring spots and finding some of the spots still emit similar high level while other places, lower.  The day before yesterday, 7.1 aftershock hit off the coast of Miyagi, and Tepco's other nuclear plant, Onagawa lost some power... 

I wanted to change my mood.  I didn't need to, but I went to have my hair cut yesterday.  I always look forward to see my hairstylist and chat.  The last time I saw her was right before the earthquake.  We said hello and chatted how horrible the earthquake was, then I said,

"How's your son?"  Her son is very active seven-year old.  I met him once.

"Oh, he hasn't been with me," the hairstylist said through her mask.  She is my daughter's age and married to an American.  She is beautiful and has very warm personality.  She is from the northeast. 

"Oh, what happened to him?"

"He is in the U.S. with my husband because of radiation."

"Oh, I see.  But the radiation in Yokohama is low.  Do you know it's lower than the U.S.?"

"No.  Really?"

"It"s 0.04, and the average natural radiation in the U.S. is 0.4.  It's on newspapers daily.  And the faucet water in Yokohama has been at the safe level even when we had rain."

It's apparent that they haven't been reading Japanese newspapers.  Or maybe, her husband wanted to take advantage of the charter jet to visit his family in the U.S.  If the husband thought the situation truly dire, he would have taken his wife with him.  About her mask, she and some others wear because of pollen allergy.  Right now is the worst time of year.  I wear sometimes to keep me warm from very cold winds.

This morning, it started to rain.  I filled my plastic containers with water just in case.

Then I read Asahi morning news.  On page 5, it reported that President Obama's call for the 80 km radius evacuation was based on a fictitious scenario, not scientific data.  It said that Randy Sullivan of NRC explained, ‘It's better than not making a decision."