We have observed the graphic images of the Japanese and their nation, succumbing to the overwhelming forces of nature destroying lives, infrastructure, and economy.
In a couple of years the currents of the Pacific and prevailing winds will scatter debris across North America’s shores. Those will be reminders of the life changing devastation and very human tragedy that has been, since that infamous day March 11, holding Japan in a state of shock. Who will Japan look to as it rebuilds.
The world’s third largest economy, and America’s second largest debt holder, is being battered with power shortages and supply-chain difficulties that impact production of its principal exports, as concern grows that nuclear contamination could affect it food supply system, and its water sources. Japan is very aware that such a calamity, the reality of which has been literally slammed into its consciousness, will tax all of its emotional, spiritual and economic reserves. Japan also understands that in this time of confusion, and catastrophe, while it welcomes help from foreign shores, it knows that it is in a very lonely place.
Japan’s dependence on nuclear energy is not about to change since it is devoid of natural resources, and nuclear has presented the best insulation from the vagaries of the oil fields of the Middle East. Once Japan has had a chance to mourn its dead and heal its injured, and once it has answered the needs of over half a million new homeless, it will revisit its vulnerabilities. The dedication, work ethic and pride, which created the ingenuity behind the high quality products which the world markets clamored for and absorbed, will address itself to the question of self-sufficiency with renewed vigor.
Japan will launch its considerable wealth and industry to solving a breadth of weaknesses that recent events highlighted. It will address itself to long-term solutions for its energy needs, as well as the fragility of its food and water supplies. In a dramatic shift from the past half-century’s regressed strategy on defense and military, we can expect Japan to take strong strides toward more military self-reliance. For now, it welcomes all the help it can get including that of foreign companies who have already contributed significant funds to the relief effort.
As the state of the art USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier along with other U.S. ships in the region provide welcomed humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the Japanese cannot help but be touched, even inspired, by the indomitable American spirit of the Sailors and Marines who have donated and collected goods and supplies, personally augmenting the official relief effort. This touching and much needed accomplishment, in the face of the monumentally devastating crush of one of America’s truly best and closest allies, served to balance the impoverished tone and shapeless delivery of, “Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region, and we’re going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy” from the Obama White House teleprompter – then, exit stage left for Rio.
The whole of the Japanese population is looking inward for strength, but in its isolation it will also look to friends for support through the next few years of rebuilding and restoration. Fortunately, there exists an American population, far from the self-absorption of Washington that the people of Japan can look to for a confirmation on the meaning of friendship.
A constituent of the vast baby boomer generation with a career which has been fortunate to know the ponderous corporate worlds, as well as the intimately pressurized, and invigorating entrepreneurial domains of high tech and venture capital, I have harvested my share of mistakes meandering through corridors of enterprise from Silicon Valley, to London and endless, colourful, sometimes praetorian points in between. The voyage has provided an abundance of fodder for a pen yielding to an inquisitive keyboard, a foraging mind, and a passionate spirit.
Whether political or business or social or economic or personal, is it not all political? It is a privilege to write, and an even greater privilege to be read by anyone, and sometimes with the wind at my back the writing may occasionally be legible. I do not write to invite scorn, nor to invite respect, but if I get really lucky the writing can stimulate thinking. I also write for the very selfish purpose of animating my own processes, and engaging the best of what life offers. Above all, whether biting fire or swatting shadows, I am grateful to be gifted the freedom to write and publish whatever flows down to the keyboard. To all those who enabled this freedom, and to all those standing guard to preserve it, I am indebted.