Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fire Fighters

Spring starts tomorrow.

People are frustrated because they’ve been unable to help while the survivors need help desperately. This is the first time I see many men even in leadership roles are crying in front of cameras. I saw on television that a fire fighter went to close a gate to fight tsunami after the 9.0 hit. He said his mind was completely occupied with his work. After the tsunami subsided, he went back to his house walking through debris. He could not find anyone there, he said. Later on, a rescue team found his four family members upstairs of their house, but all were dead.

To be effective in rescue efforts, each affected area needs a local leader with an organized and able team. But, those local teams lost members, and the surviving members lost their loved ones or their houses or both. Today, the leader of Ootsuki town was found dead. He was conducting his town rescue meeting when the tsunami hit. Communication and transportation stopped. Their streets are filled with large debris from tsunamis. Cars disappeared along with dwellings and businesses. Some cars survived, but gasoline has been unavailable. Even airports and harbors are damaged severely.

But the situation is improving here and there. A part of their important airport and harbor were restored, and goods have been transported to the rescue centers. But it’s been slow. Not fast enough. Some people are still living in those areas without any electricity, goods and support. In an interview, one woman said she worries about safety. We haven’t heard of much negative news like looting, but I sense that immoral people are at work. They should be caught before they touch other people’s properties and should be sentenced to the highest penalty.

One of the kind emails I’ve received, I wrote back with a comment about the past criticism Japan had received in the past which was not accepting foreign help in the Hanshin Earthquake Disaster. I told the sender that I was glad that in this current disaster, Japan seemed accepting help from foreign countries. This issue has been on my mind ever since Hanshin Earthquake disaster.

Who would resist help at the time of disaster? The sender had a legitimate concern. She wrote to me, “…I think it shows willingness to accept the love the world wants to offer and to not to be ashamed in this predicament because, after all, it’s a natural disaster. Could happen to any of us, at any time.”

I appreciated her words. But I thought it must be hard to read Japanese behaviors and news in English. There have been always language and cultural problems, and the situation has been changing every minute, and over the years, Japanese behaviors have been changing. After all, we need all the help we can get. I don’t think anyone want to resist others’ help, especially at the time of this enormous crisis. We all appreciate it. But the Japanese receivers must be going through difficulties in accepting some of the help. For instance, on 17th, 6 fire engine trucks and one American truck went to No. 3 reactor to send water jets. Asahi newspaper reported the six trucks shot 40 tons of seawater, and the American truck, 2 tons. There were 30 trucks which were gathered already from all over Japan, and they were to take turn, I’m sure. This is my imagination, not non-ficition, but I think the fire fighters were required to include an American engine. It’s a gesture of accepting. At the time of crisis, I don’t think this is easy to do for Japanese fire fighters no matter how much we are appreciative. They probably rather use their own vehicles. Also, I read in the report in Huffington news that the workers inside that American truck were Japanese.

What do I sense from those sentences from a Japanese newspaper and an American report? It’s hard to offer help and accept in some cases. It isn’t like depositing money into an account. I imagine the conversation behind those critical scenes. I feel for those Japanese fire fighters’ frustration when they were required to operate other than what they are used to. And I also feel very much for American fire fighters. I can imagine their disappointed faces. This is what I think from reading both articles, but I could be wrong.

Talking of fire fighters, about 50 fighters have been acting to save the nation. Yes, they are saving Japan, not just those local people. I’m speechless. I don’t know how to describe my emotion. I wish to express how appreciative I am about their actions.

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