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Tuesday, April 12, 2011
HAVE YOUR SAY
'Judge not,' 'fly-jin' and saving electricity: views from readers
Some readers' responses to Roberto De Vido's "Judge not, lest you be judged" (March 22), Darek Gondor's " 'Fly-jin' face fallout from decision to go" (April 5), and Darryl Magree's March 29 letter:
Roberto, judge not
I too, am one of the "fleeing." I live in Miyagi Prefecture, about halfway between Sendai and Fukushima, the two big names of the moment. While I haven't faced judgment from any of my friends from Miyagi, most of the judging has been internal. The guilt I feel for essentially abandoning my home is crippling. Ever since I managed to leave my small country town I have been anxious to return.
You may ask then, "Why did you leave if you did not want to?" Well, the simple answer is: judgment from family. So many of us Miyagi foreigners have been accused of selfishness, or naivete, or stupidity for wanting to remain in our home towns and trying to contribute what we can to the communities which have gladly cared for us since the fateful day. These accusations mount, till many of us feel too distressed and leave. I have been chased out of my home by an anxious family, whose anxiety is exacerbated by the damagingly scaremongering international news circuit, a circuit which needs to exercise caution with its headlines and diagrams.
Like you, Mr. De Vido, I do not condemn or condone anyone's actions. However, I would go further, much further, and say people must learn to hold their tongues and learn the true meaning of the words "love" and "support."
Judge by actions
I very much hope Mr. De Vido will be donating whatever fee he claimed for his article "Judge not, lest you be judged" to the relief effort for the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Does he really think he deserves to get paid for an article of whining self-justification regarding his decision to abandon Tokyo during the crisis?
It is amusing that Mr. De Vido puts the word "fled" in speech marks, as if to distance himself from the accusation. Fleeing is exactly what he did. It is reasonable that he might want to send his young children to safety, but why did he himself go? He could have given up his ticket to a neighbor with small children, who couldn't afford to get out of danger herself. That, surely, would have been the act of an honorable man during a time of uncertainty.
A little hardship and danger never stopped a good reporter from doing their job — indeed, it separates them from those of lesser mettle. I wonder how Mr. De Vido hoped he might be able to press Tepco and the Japanese Diet to admit their failings from way off in Kyoto?
And how does he expect Japan to avoid "the crippling economic blow" of the disaster if its leaders run off to hide in the south? The answer is, Japan will surely recover. The bravest and best have remained here. All praise to them. They are the ones who will rebuild this fine nation, not the likes of Roberto De Vido. Tokyo will clearly be no worse off if he never returns.
Meanwhile, those of us foreigners who remained in the city, doing our jobs, supporting our families, contributing to putting Japan back on its feet in what little way we can, have been tainted by the cowardice of others. What exactly are we being "judged" for here?
Besides, I do not judge you, Mr. De Vido. Your own actions judge you.
Everyone has a right and a responsibility to take care of one's own well-being, and no one has the right to criticize others for their choices, provided it does not harm others. No one blames those who fled in time from the Nazi occupation, and in fact we commend them. It is too late after an irreparable disaster happens.
It is unfortunate that there those who have stayed have criticized individuals who have left, especially if those criticisms were made personal. Mr. De Vido, I'm glad that you have reached safety, and your family including your 3- and 5-year old children will remain radiation-free. The added stress of not being able to get accurate or informative updates in a timely manner (for those who do not speak the language) is also dangerous for the individual and an added burden on those that support them.
However, at this current moment, I personally feel that there are more pressing matters on our minds than tending to the wounded ego, or the "deserters' guilt" of those who have left, however deep the wounds may be. At this moment in time, we simply couldn't care. Talk to us, and put blame where needed, once everyone has had a warm meal, a long-awaited bath, and news of their loved ones. Until then, don't waste your breath, your ink, or our time.
Tokyo and Japan will recover: radiated or not, informed or uninformed. Those who stay will see it happen for themselves. That is all there is to it.
A famous quote goes, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." I hope this does not mean we should be reckless or blind to dangers, but I respect those who, even in the face of danger, go on with their lives with courage, resourcefulness, and a sound mind to assess their situation with wisdom. Do your part in providing accurate and needed information. History will be our only judge. Until that day when judgment comes tapping on our door, do what you can do now to help, wherever you are.
VOICE FROM YOKOHAMA
Chose to stay
I am a Japanese, Tokyo native, and I beg to differ with the author of this piece. I chose to stay in Tokyo, not out of any sort of "deference to authority" as this author claims. I studied the radiation data, weighed family needs and work conditions, and then chose to stay. Where the hell does "deference to authority" come in?
I despise the phrase "fly-jin" and the need in some people to criticize other people's decisions to leave or not leave.
Likewise, I urge the author, and The Japan Times, not to make quick and careless amateur judgments about the psyche of a whole people.
Making work for others
In response to the article titled " 'Fly-jin' face fallout from decision to go" there are a few points that should be clarified.
In the above-mentioned article, Mr. Gondor makes an attempt to rationalize or explain his departure from Tokyo. The objective of this article is questionable, but there is something far more worrying here. As Mr. Gondor explains, his decision was based not on facts or reliable information. He left Tokyo because his mother was worried about him. How cute. Should Mr. Gondor have been 10 years old, this would be a perfectly reasonable decision.
Normally, I would not object to such personal decisions. However, actions taken by people such as Mr. Gondor constitute a very real threat to the country in its present condition. After March 11, it is critical that Japan's national economy be pushed forward. Business must continue, money must continue to circulate. Life must continue to move forward.
As a Canadian national working and living in Tokyo, I have seen first hand the problems these so-called "fly-jins" have caused in workplaces around the city. Delays in billing, work incomplete, services that are unavailable. Company's are hurting and other people, such as myself, have had to pick up the slack to the tune of 14- and 15-hour days.
One assumes that if a company is willing to pay an individual to do a job, then it must be of some importance to the company. To abandon one's post and corporate responsibilities because family members are worried is abhorrent. And Mr. Gondor should very well be ashamed of his actions.
Japanese leave too
Interesting article — I work for a very large global Japanese company that very quietly helped all expat workers send their families back to their home countries. Also, this very same company has repatriated Japanese expats working in various countries around the world at the slightest hint of any potential danger .
When I discuss this issue of "fly-jins" with my Japanese coworkers, they initially condemn the colleagues (Chinese, Korean, Mexican) who have flown away and doubt that they can come back, as they will not be able to trust them. But then I ask them what they would have done if they were living in China or America, for example, and something like this happened there. I also point out that the company we work for has repatriated Japanese workers when civil unrest or natural disasters have taken place abroad over the last 5 years (I know of 3 times this has happened), leaving the local population to sort things out on their own. Were these people also "fly-jins"?
This makes them think a little more deeply about the issue, and every one of them has said that if they were in a different country and this disaster had happened in that country, they too would have sent their families back and most probably returned to Japan themselves — either on orders from their company or because of fears for their safety.
Ask stores to douse lights
If there is indeed a silver lining to this dark disaster cloud, Darryl Magree's letter on March 29 points the way. Each person should join his suggested campaign to reduce electrical use now and in the future, by praising local merchants who have turned off the lights. Ask them to make it permanent. Foster has the mindset that wasting electricity is not only stupid and slightly immoral, it should be illegal .
People where I'm from love daylight savings time and I wish Japan would adopt it again, but my circle of Japanese friends has no experience with it and don't warm to the idea easily. Sunrise at 4:30 a.m. should be a thing of the past, along with convenience stores lit up like Las Vegas all night long.
On a slightly different topic, I heard a science broadcast discussing power and the question was asked, why don't we just drill into the Earth's core and tap the nuclear furnace under our feet at every point on the globe? The answer was illuminating: we can't! It is beyond our technology. Building nuclear power plants is a snap compared to drilling more than a few dozen kilometers into the planet. Hubris, thy name is man.