Ever since I was a first-grader, when Kobe and my home town of Seattle became sister cities, and I saw pictures of Kobe, and learned to count to five in Japanese, Japan has been a part of me. And since 1974, it has been my career. In the past 27 years, not a day has gone by where Japan was not in my thoughts – either because I was living there, learning about it, teaching about it, or just thinking about it.
I have found myself unable to articulate the pain and shock I feel at the current crisis that faces Japan after the Tohoku earthquake, devastating tsunami, and subsequent nuclear plant disasters. Like so many others, here and in Japan, I feel tremendous frustration at not being able to do anything beyond throw money at it. It is even more unsettling to me that as the catastrophe keeps unfolding, it gives us no chance to mourn what has already passed, yet I feel that we must mourn before we can move on. I want the horror to stop so that I – we – can grieve for what has happened.
I was at Narita Airport yesterday, and I saw not the “run for your lives” panic the media told me I would see, but people going about their day-to-day as best they could, waiting for a time when they could say, “Okay, now let’s focus on re-building.” In fact, I was there on my way back from conducting business in Okinawa as “normally” as I could because I did not want to admit that a disaster – even one of this proportion – could cripple Japan beyond hope.
The take-away is simple: at times like this, keep your head down, do your job, and whatever else might be asked of you. Japan deserves our best efforts.
-Robert Huey, CJS Director
Two related notes: First, this recent opinion piece in the Washington Post expresses a similar sentiment that CJS wanted to share. Second, the comment function has been opened for both this and the previous post. Please feel free to offer any comments you might have. Inappropriate language or sentiments will not be indulged.