Japan from the inside out

Letter bombs (16): An objection

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, March 13, 2011

READER A disagrees with some of my opinions. His full note is here. Here’s part of it, and my answers.

“I find the fact that they’re admittedly flooding seawater into a nuclear power plant…to be sufficient cause for a certain degree of reasonable alarm or, at the very least, an active concern.”

The people dealing with the situation are reasonably alarmed and actively concerned. They’re evacuating people as necessary. What practical purpose does it serve for everyone else in the country to worry about events outside of their control? That’s part of what I mean about indulging one’s emotions.

“(H)ow much of the imperative to preserve an outward appearance of ‘calmness’ do you think is a product of deeply engrained social conventions as well as an attempt to maintain a ‘face’.”

None. I disagree with the premise of most of this. The imperative for the authorities to preserve an outward appearance of calmness is important because it fulfills the first requirement of leadership–defining reality.

We can also turn that around. How does this work for you? “How much of the imperative to present an outward appearance of heartfelt emotional engagement and concern do you think is a product of deeply engrained social conventions, as well as an attempt to signal that one is a “caring” person?”

“Maybe if they focussed a little less on behaving like a good ‘Japanese’, staying eternally ‘calm’, and did panic a little and ask hard questions of their government and their corporate partners they might be able to avoid an even bigger tragedy or at least know the full extent of the risks they are and will continue to face.”

Oh, they’ll ask the questions, regardless of whether they continue to be unreported in English. As for the risks they are facing, the people in immediate danger know about them.

As for the media coverage and government reports, adjectives, adverbs, and analogies are not only unnecessary, they’re counterproductive.

As for the suggestion that anyone is focused on behaving like “good” Japanese, you’re getting close to running off the rails there.

Quick update: If I heard that report on the radio correctly, there have been 150 aftershocks counted so far that have been over 5 on the Richter scale. They’re warning of the possibility of more to come.

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2 Responses to “Letter bombs (16): An objection”

  1. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Avoiding unnecessary fuss and noise is the first thing I can do, so I would stay in that line. The second thing I can do is to reduce consumption of power, so I turn off my pcs now. TV, though extremely rare, is my primal source of information, and it is, up to now, credible. Still, battery powered radio and cell phone should serve as source of information if we have to endure rolling power cut from tomorrow. Looking forward to see you Ampontan, a bit later.

  2. Andrew In Ezo said

    I find the speculatory comments about lack of preparedness/hiding of information incredibly crass- this earthquake is the fourth or fifth largest in modern human history (the meteorlogical agency upped the magnitude of the quake to 9.0 today) and it was series of three big temblors, which is beyond any scenarios imagined. If your nation (as commentators seem to be ensconced safely thousands of miles away)were subject to the same level of destruction, do you think they would handle situation any better than what is occuring now in Japan? If the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is any indication, I doubt it.

    Also the veiled comments about Japanese “lack of emotion” in the face of disaster- if the British or say Scandinavians reacted in the same manner (as they probably would), it would be portrayed by commentators as an admirable trait, heroic stoicism and an example of national gumption. With Japanese, identical behavior would be seen as some character flaw of lack of humanity. Good to know the Chinese think otherwise!

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