Checking in on Japan…

The Economist – Japan’s recovery: Who needs leaders?
The aftermath of the March 11th disasters shows that Japan’s strengths lie outside Tokyo, in its regions

Read the whole thing, but two bits stand out. First the intro, comparing Tokyo at the center of the country with its provinces:

THE earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident that struck Japan three months ago have revealed something important about the country: a seam of strength and composure in the bedrock of society that has surprised even the Japanese themselves. Not only has this resilience helped the hundreds of thousands suffering from the loss of families, homes and livelihoods to cope with their suffering, despite the self-absorbed dithering of their national politicians in Tokyo. By reminding Japan of the hidden depths of its local communities, especially compared with the shallowness of central government, it has also provided a sense of how Japan could emerge stronger from the crisis, ending years of economic drift.

One of the most heroic examples of community spirit was 24-year-old Miki Endo, who used the loudspeaker system in Minamisanriku, a fishing port close to the focus of the 9.0 earthquake, to urge residents to do what they could to escape the incoming tsunami. She drowned at her post. Television footage shows the rising sea approaching, with her haunting voice echoing over the waves. More than 1,000 of the town’s 18,000 residents died.

Quieter examples of selflessness also abound. One fisherman tells of the four days he spent clearing the wreckage of his village, with no knowledge of the whereabouts of his eldest son. When his son eventually appeared, walking down off the mountain after a long cross-country trek to reach his parents, the two wiped tears from their eyes but did not say a word to each other. The son did not wish to disturb his father’s toil.


The gap between capital and countryside—especially as seen from Tohoku—has grown starker in recent weeks, thanks to the antics within the government and the Diet. From the early days of the crisis it was not lost on many evacuees that few politicians had bothered to make the two-to-four hour journey by train from Tokyo to witness their plight first-hand. (By contrast, the 77-year-old Emperor Akihito and his wife Michiko have made frequent visits, bowing deeply before the victims.)

/daubs eyes

Anyway it’s worth reading the whole thing.