a hearty sunburst
heroism to inspire
dignity to admire
With the immediate horror of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and tsunami 10 days past, more and more stories are surfacing about the incredible heroism and dignity of Japanese people.
There is the story of the so-called Fukushima 50, volunteers working 24/7 in darkness to restart the cooling system at the damaged nuclear plant. 15 minutes in, 45 minutes out, these heroes know they are exposed to potentially fatal doses of radiation, yet endure. “Please continue to live well,” one volunteer told his wife. “I can’t be home for some time.”
There is the story of a 71 year-old man who had been caring for his 69 year-old wife of 40 years crippled with a joint disease, unable to walk on her own. Within seconds tsunami waters reached his chest. He supported his wife who had clung to a table for 15 hours, suffering through the night’s freezing cold, and finding superhuman strength to save the woman he loved. When the sun rose and the waters had receded he was able to leave his house and scream for help to neighbors.
There is the story of a 16-year old grandson trapped with his 80-year old grandmother 9 days inside their kitchen in Miyagi Prefecture, until finally he could climb out of the debris and call for rescue workers. By that time, his body temperature had fallen to 28 degrees centigrade yet he kept on fighting with an indomitable Japanese spirit.
162 Chinese interns were working at seafood processing companies in Miyagi Prefecture on March 11. All of them are safe and are returning to their home country. When the tsunami struck, Sato Mitsuro, commissioner of the Sato Fisheries Corporation, led 20 of the Chinese interns training in his company to safety on higher grounds. He then returned to search for his wife and daughter and was swept away by the tsunami rage.
Sato-san’s self-sacrifice validates an entire life span. It answers the oft-raised question: Why are we here? What is our purpose? His nobleness and that of others during this crisis distinguishes the human condition.
Japan has suffered a devastation unprecedented since the war, a ravaging 9.0 magnitude killer striking across most of eastern Japan, and estimated to be 1,000 times more powerful than the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake that killed 6,500 people in Kobe.
As in Kobe, the Japanese people have come together to support one another with incredible dignity and calm. There has been no looting. There is great unity of spirit, solidarity, an all-for-one, one-for-all caring attitude.
The smart cars, the dazzling electronics, the delectable sushi restaurants in virtually every city around the world—these are all showcase Japanese exports.
But Japan’s greatest export is what we are now witnessing: The nobleness of the Japanese spirit.
All the best,
Warren J. Devalier
©2011 Warren J. Devalier