Crisis in Japan

Many thought it was just a big earthquake to which the people of Japan, being in the Pacific Ring of Fire, But then the Big One, measured at 9 in the scale, triggered devastating tidal waves which wrought havoc on whatever it swamped on – airport, ships, bridges, roads, houses and other infrastructures. And the twin shocks snapped the lives of at least 10,000 people.

More serious after effect, however, is the explosion of Japan’s nuclear reactors at one of its nuclear power plants. No less than the Japanese Premier Naoto Kan acknowledged the dangers in a televised message to the Japanese people as he called for the evacuation of about 200,000 people within the 12-kilometer zone around the destroyed nuclear reactors and for the rest to stay indoor to avoid the hazardous radiation from the nuclear plant. As of press time, Japanese authorities and experts are struggling to control the nuclear reactors and plant to prevent the loss of lives. Also, people in the area have been checked for radiation in their bodies, clothes and other things and those found contaminated are isolated for further examination and cure.

It was atomic power which subdued mighty Japan’s aggression during the last war. American forces dropped atomic bombs into Hiroshima and Nagasaki, triggering massive destruction and loss of lives which led the Japanese army to surrender, thus ending the war. Japan then slowly rose from the rubbles of war to become the third largest economy in the world today. Ironically, it is the nuclear power which had become one of its engines of growth through the many nuclear power plants spread throughout the country, providing cheap and reliable electricity to its industries, plants, offices and homes for many years now. But with the experience after the big quake and powerful tsunami, nuclear power may yet become Japan’s modern atomic bombs if the destroyed nuclear reactors will not be controlled.

Already, Japan’s economy is feeling the effects of the big quake and tsunami which destroyed billions of dollars worth of infrastructures and facilities. Banks have estimated the economic loss in Japan’s northeastern region alone at $183 billion which is huge by any standard. Trading of Japan shares have gone down to an unprecedented level in the aftermath of the massive destruction. The Tokyo Stock Exchange was reported to have suffered a massive sell off wiping out some 23.5 trillion yen ($287 billion) from the market’s value as the Nikkei average tumbled by 6.2 percent, the biggest decline in a single day since October 2008. Already, the Samurai bond float has been halted, given Japan’s unfortunate tragedy. Power and communications lines were lost and restored, but its big manufacturing plants for cars and others will have to be closed down, presumably to check thoroughly their facilities to ensure the efficiency of their work and the safety of their workers. Others will have to recover from loss of manpower.

Americans, Filipinos and other peoples of the world pray and hope that Japan and the Japanese people will be able to surmount the dangers and problems they are now facing. An outpouring of support and aid from many countries are well on its way to Japan. Even the Philippines, which has Japan as a big trading partner and is dependent on foreign assistance from that country, has offered help, including rescue and medical workers. Japan’s success at recovery from the rubbles of war, big quakes and recession, among others, is well known. The question now, however, is how long would Japan recover from its present turmoil. Economies dependent on Japan as a trading partner like the United States and the Philippines would do well to brace for the big job ahead which, predictably, will take some time.

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