Monday, March 14, 2011

Why the Mixed Feelings on Japan?

Do Americans still hate the Japanese?

Even though Pearl Harbor was 70 years ago, I've been surprised by people's lukewarm reactions to the devastating earthquake (now figured to be an historic 9.0) and tsunami in Japan. I've seen and heard a few reactions that amount to a big shrug over a disaster that may have claimed 10,000 lives or more.

So what gives? Nobody likes Sony, Toyota, and Nintendo anymore? Are we really that callous?

In my mind, Japan is an important ally in that part of the world. We should be helping them because it keeps the world safe from Chinese or North Korean aggression for Japan to be strong. But it also makes economic sense.

Japan, which is the third largest economy in the world, had serious problems before this disaster and may be especially fragile right now. We have a vested interest in their economy bouncing back, because Japan buys our corn, grain and pharmaceuticals by the billions of dollars.

We buy products from them at an even higher rate, especially cars. But even if you drive a Ford or Chevy, Japan's misfortune can still affect you. China and other countries buy electronic components from Japan, so disaster in Japan will hurt the supply chain that brings us cell phones, iPads, TVs, and other consumer electronics that are everywhere in our lives now.

Beyond all of these reasons, these suffering people in Japan are human beings. God loves them and we should too, no matter how different they are. Japan is one of the great (relatively) unreached people groups, with a surprisingly low percentage of Christians compared to nations in the region like South Korea, the Philippines, or even China.

So let's pray for our Japanese friends, our military in the area, and the Christian missionaries that are in Japan. This disaster, and its consequences, isn't over yet.


Jen said...

Well said!

Eric said...

What I haven't heard any comment on is Japan's collective memory regarding the effects (psychological and physical) of radiation. They are the only people group who have lived and dealt with the effects of radiation over lifetimes from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wonder how they are handling that aspect...?

Thumper said...

I met a student from Hiroshima once at a college ministry retreat and that was all I could think about: "Your hometown has been nuked!"

I never asked her about it but I would have listened to anything she would have said.