John Madden was born and brought up on Vera Street in Dorchester. After college, he was commissioned as an Army officer and stationed for two years in Japan. There he met and married his wife, Fumie, and when they returned to the US they settled in Chicago, where there was a sizable Japanese community. They now live in retirement on Cape Cod, where they keep a keen eye on the culture and news from Japan.
This week, in an e-mail to friends, Madden talked about the current Japanese earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear power plant catastrophes. He wrote, in part:
“Japan has an efficient health care network, in general a high level of education, a compliant and orderly population, and a devotion to each other when challenged. (Note: even most foreigners, such as myself, get caught up in the good effects of this last trait and would behave as if Japanese).
Comparisons to tragedies elsewhere in New Orleans and Haiti would punctuate and validate the points made.
I received this comment from a long time Japanese friend: ‘Right now Japan is struggling with possible China Syndrome of atomic energy plant at Fukusima prefecture and rescue activities of Great Tsunami causalities. We will concentrate our efforts to reconstruct these areas. I believe this is good opportunity for Japanese to reflect, reconsider, and restructure our lifestyle in more reserved and moderate way.’
My friend highlights two areas of emphasis that will cause big challenges for Japan going forward. One is the use of nuclear reactors to generate power on the dangerous East Coast of Japan. Second is the reconstruction of the blighted areas. The area will most likely will be viewed as a blank canvass by many in business and government. The local people will not be so receptive of this “outside” interest in the devastated land.
As the days go on there will be no looting, no violent crime, no inability of officials to direct a prompt recovery. Police will be present to help and assist as opposed to being used to control and hunt down bad or evil people. Those hurt and suffering will not complain or make demands while others are in need. Opposing sides on a variety of issues will take place in the future and Japan will be changed by this event in the end.
Our good friend, trapped in the earthquake in Sendai, sent by his company for a week of work the day before the quake, arrived home safely and unhurt yesterday afternoon. He got up and went to work this morning.
My wish would be for other societies overwhelmed by chaos and confusion after such a disaster take under consideration how it is that the Japanese are so well behaved thereby providing a better condition for all. Especially in our dense urban areas our mores and societal values are insufficient to guide us successfully through such a tragedy as is happening in Japan. Our governments, institutions and businesses need to confront the truth of this
dangerous aspect within our urban centers. We should struggle hard to improve our own condition.
Think of it: Not one soldier in Japan, not one policeman, will have as a primary responsibility the prevention of looting. They will not carry weapons, as that would only reduce their effectiveness in the recovery efforts.
Why can’t the people in our country also have such strong and beneficial traits?”