15 March 2011

Historical Photos

Nagasaki, 1945

Fukushima, 2011
I was hardly able to work today, too many thoughts about what is happening in Japan were going through my head. Every five minutes I checked CNN and Spiegel Online for news, did the atomic reactor blew up? Is there radioactive fall-out in Tokyo? Another earthquake, another Tsunami? Many relatives and friends called over the weekend. There is little I can do from here, but at least I started to put pressure on the German-Japanese associations I am a member of to collect relief funds (DJW, DJG, SP-Alumni).
Even riding 100 km+ yesterday didn't offered much needed distraction.

Luckily everybody I know better is all right, but I am even more worried about the long-term effects. I don't mean the effects of radiation on health, but what will happen to a country still knee-deep in the morass of depression after falling down from the heights of the bubble economy in 1990.

Some weeks ago I spoke with one of my few good Japanese friends and he told me, that there are some people in Japan that feel that today's Japan is similar to the dawn of the the Tokugawa Shogunate in mid 19th century. A political stubborn and ineffective government that couldn't provide wealth and power to its people and was at the whim of Western foreign powers was replaced in the Meiji revolution by a (by Japanese standards) modern government and a new powerful class of merchants and industrialists.

The comparison targets the political establishment of the LDP and its clones with the late Tokugawa bakufu (administration). I don't know if this is a common thought in Japan, but the many parallels were interesting for sure.

Another thought came up: There is a historical, philosophical concept in China that justifies the rule by one or the other ruler or dynasty called "Mandate of Heaven". Wiki has all the details:

"The Mandate of Heaven  is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimize rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of Heaven is predicated on the conduct of the ruler in question."
.....
"The Mandate of Heaven had no time limitations, instead depending on the just and able performance of the ruler. In the past, times of poverty and natural disasters were taken as signs that heaven considered the incumbent ruler unjust and thus in need of replacement."

I don't even want to discuss heavenly influence paired with Japanese politics, but just as the first comparison, one can draw parallel lines as well.
I really hope that this disaster will have at least a positive impact on the way Japan is heading into the future.

1 comment:

TOM said...

Expats tiptoeing back to work....

according to a recent WSJ article, the flight of "gaijins," or better "flyjins" to safe havens - in part due to the more alarmist tones taken by the foreign media in the coverage of the disaster has polarized some offices in Tokyo. These "flyjins" are now allegedly facing the challenge of how to cope with ostracism (村八分) and anger from their colleagues who worked through the crisis and feel they were abandoned...