Mar 13, 2011 at 12:28 am #1270448
Sorry I haven't been posting, but I've been too busy with things here in Japan to get online about hiking lately.
However, in an effort to be of some use I've been wracking my brain about what to do. Providing financial support is the most obvious one, and two of the Japanese UL hikers, Tatsuya Totsuya and Kousuke Kakinoki have put together a website through the Japan Hiker's Association to donate money. It's in Japanese right now and I need to sit down and translate it, so I'll let you know when it's ready.
I was also thinking that as UL hikers, with a lot of knowledge about simple ways to be outdoors without a lot of unneeded gear, we could help out knowledge-wise for those people left without homes and living in the severe cold of Sendai, where the earthquake took place (one of my wife's patients died last night from hypothermia due to having stayed in a shelter in Tokyo without adequate provisions to keep warm… and Tokyo is not nearly as cold as Sendai, nor are there many problems due to the earthquake). I could do things like show how to make simple wood-burning stoves, set up shelter, stay warm, filter water, etc. I am thinking of possibly joining a rescue group or a volunteer organization that just does things like cook and clean up and such and going up to Sendai for a week or so (university work starts up again soon, so I can't stay long). An Australia friend told me that a rescue group has arrived and they might need my Japanese translation ability.
Another thing that all of us could do is find a way to donate gear, like shelters and clothing, that people can use as they get through the first weeks of being homeless. I don't want to do this haphazardly or get in the way of official rescue efforts and clog up post office routes, so I have to get more information about how to go about doing it, where to pick up stuff, who to give it to, or even if it would be useful at all. Let me get back to everyone about that. I might have to set it up myself, since things always move so slowly here. So I might have a homepage up to get information out.
My last idea is to offer shelter to those who lost their homes. My apartment is big enough for 1 or 2 people to stay for about 3 months, until they can get back on their feet. I don't know if something like this exists in Japan, though I know it exists abroad, in Christchurch, for instance. I think I might ask them for information about how to go about doing this. Lynn, would you know the name of such an organization?
One of the things about being non-Japanese in Japan during such a crisis is that very little information exists for those who can't read and speak Japanese. And very little effort will be made to help the foreigners, many of whom will not know where to go or what is happening or whom to talk to. I'll have to see if there is a lifeline available online for them, if not, I'll have to put that together, too, so that people will have a place on the net to go to for information.
This is all pretty crazy. But hopefully life will begin to get back to normal soon without anything worse happening. The nuclear power plant in Fukushima is very worrying.
And we're still getting aftershocks, 51 hours later.Mar 13, 2011 at 11:12 am #1708308
American Red Cross also has process for donating
American Red Cross Responding to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami
The American Red Cross is offering assistance to the Japanese Red Cross following Friday’s magnitude 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunami that left towns and villages in Japan devastated.Mar 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm #1708436
@rosierabbitLocale: Pacific Northwest
Thanks for the information, and especially for your dedication, Miguel. I tried looking at the link with a computerized translation, with mixed results.
I hope you are able to take care of yourself while you are trying to help others. The Red Cross looks like an effective way for those of us not on the scene to be of help.Mar 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm #1709059
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Just got an email from Time Warner Cable. Anyone who has their phone service can call to Japan for free. Nice touch.Mar 14, 2011 at 10:46 pm #1709065
@redmonkLocale: Greater California Ecosystem
ITMS is taking donations for RedCross,
ShelterBox is taking donations as small as $1.Mar 15, 2011 at 1:47 am #1709085
"I am thinking of possibly joining a rescue group or a volunteer organization that just does things like cook and clean up and such and going up to Sendai for a week or so (university work starts up again soon, so I can't stay long)."
I genuinely wish I could do just that.
"An Australia friend told me that a rescue group has arrived and they might need my Japanese translation ability."
They have – apparently they are in Minamisanriku.
It does say that they have an interpeter, but there are lots of teams from other countries so you'd imagine that extra translators might well be needed.Mar 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm #1709982
I've been extremely busy with trying to secure food and other living basics around the area where I live, where there are very long lines, lots of shortages in basic foodstuffs and things like gasoline, and growing panic. I've also spent the last four days putting together an information site in English where people can go to look for practical information for the crisis. Please have a look: Disaster Japan.
Basically it works by collecting a large number of people in a group on Facebook (group name, "Disaster Japan Information Gathering"), where people around the world gather links and other information on things that can be of use to the situation. This information is then harvested by me and a few others and put up on the site where it can be searched for and used. It is not a news site or a place to discuss, for instance, the political merits of nuclear power. I wanted to create a sober, practical site that disseminates vital information that is easy to understand and navigate amidst all the chaos of information around the world, rather than contributes to the panic. The site is still very raw and needs a lot of work, but hopefully it will be of use to those who need it most. Once the English site is established and running on its own, I hope to help others establish similar sites in other languages.
Some of you may want to get involved. If you are on Facebook please ask to join the Disaster Japan Information Gathering group, and you can start there. We need a few more people helping out at the website to post links, but that takes a little more work and time, so let me know if you'd like to help out there.
PS. While I understand that people have concerns in other countries, the Facebook group and website are specifically designed for Japan, where the crisis is taking place and where serious efforts in creating realistic and pragmatic solutions is extremely important right now. So any links or suggestions to things like nuclear fallout in the United States will not be considered. There is just too much to do here and too serious a situation to worry about things like that right now.Mar 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm #1710539
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
I commend your sense of community and humanity Miguel. I wish I had a bunch of Caldera Infernos I could send!! Seems to be plenty of firewood in many of the affected areas, as long as they have good ignition sources. Fires may be more difficult in the Tokyo region, but even Tokyo must have parks and other green areas with dead wood and stuff to burn for warmth??? Also, in a survival situation, as I'm sure you know, if everyone huddles together there is much less chance of someone suffering hypothermia. I know, no one wants to cuddle up to a stranger, but these are extra-ordinary times and call for extra-ordinary interventions.
"My last idea is to offer shelter to those who lost their homes. My apartment is big enough for 1 or 2 people to stay for about 3 months, until they can get back on their feet. I don't know if something like this exists in Japan, though I know it exists abroad, in Christchurch, for instance. I think I might ask them for information about how to go about doing this. Lynn, would you know the name of such an organization?"
In September we just called our local council and let them know we had spare room, and I think they passed the info on to the shelters/Red Cross. I didn't know there was an international organisation that would coordinate such things. If anything, I would think the Red Cross would be in the best position to do this, but maybe it hasn't occurred to them. You could try contacting them and asking if they know of an existing organisation. Other than that, I'm out of ideas. I can't think of much help I can offer other than money directed to those who I hope CAN help.Mar 17, 2011 at 8:27 pm #1710558
It is actually kind of surreal watching so many people die and have such hardship, when a lot of us here manage to do just fine… comfortable even… in snowy, winter temperatures in a simple tarp and sleeping bag! It really shows you just how unprepared and lacking in knowledge about such things a lot of people are. I was shocked when a news article announced that people were starving to death in one town "because they don't have gasoline to get out of the area". Does on one think to walk? I do understand about the elderly (of which there are disproportionate numbers in the area that was hit), but anyone else? Japan is not big enough for that to be an excuse. Three days walking and you'll be in another big town, with lots of smaller towns between.
I talked to a local community leader in my neighborhood to suggest providing refuge to survivors. His response. "I just don't know. This is Japan. We don't do things like that here." Not even a moment of consideration! I'm dumbfounded by the total lack of support here other than money and the lack of coordinated effort to help all those people. Seems cold and indifferent.Mar 17, 2011 at 10:28 pm #1710598
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
"I talked to a local community leader in my neighborhood to suggest providing refuge to survivors. His response. "I just don't know. This is Japan. We don't do things like that here." Not even a moment of consideration!"
Compare and contrast that with Katrina — when Texas moved hundreds of buses into New Orleans to transport "evacuees" from the Superdome to the Astrodome. That's the way we do things here. OTOH, I am sure there were also many things we did that were slower and less efficient than in Japan. As well, we had looting and rioting — things that didn't happen in Japan either.
I guess what I am saying is that each culture has its own ways of dealing with issues — for better and for worse. My view: I'd like to see a lot more cultural mutts — physically and culturally — where people are less tied to any one method of doing things, and the only sacrilege is sticking blindly / lazily to any one methodology and accepting inferior results.Mar 18, 2011 at 3:08 am #1710621
No looting in Japan? Well, that's a myth.
It's just not done openly and violently. Very surreptitious. As the narrator in the video is saying, "Yeah, I guess it's for survival, but still… It's not right."
Ben, I've been in Japan for a very very long time. It is not a "foreign culture" to me. I see it the same way that you see China or the States (and my connection the States is just like yours, too. I also have a connection to Germany). I've had the same connection to it as you had with China. So I actually do know what I am talking about, and my criticisms are legitimate. It's unusual for me to feel offense at things you write (because I agree with almost all your points of view), but this time I felt you were being a little condescending.
Japan is notoriously slow to react in dire situations. They nearly always (though this time s little less) scoff at outside help, even when huge numbers of people are dying. That's one of the biggest criticisms of how the Hanshin Earthquake was handled. Hundreds died because the government took four days to respond, plus they refused help from very experienced organizations like Medicins Sans Frontiers and the American military. I have absolutely NO sympathy for "cultural differences" when people die due to plain stupidity and pig-headedness. NONE. You just do what needs to be done to save people's lives and screw cultural differences. Disasters have absolutely no dithers about killing whomever are in their way. They are not human and don't "care" about our little differences. As I sit here with unending earthquakes for seven days straight now I get no sense at all the the landscape could care less where we come from, what we like or don't like, whether or not we're scared, or whether the Japanese want me here or not. And It certainly doesn't care in any particular way about the Japanese, no matter how much the Japanese want to claim this place as their "homeland" and their "identity". All that stuff goes, "Poof!", out the window when an earthquake or tsunami or typhoon or volcanic eruption or mudslide or nuclear disaster strike.
The slowness to react and hemming and hawing over "cultural appropriateness" is causing huge amounts of problems with the volunteer help and rescue efforts, too. The Japan Red Cross is making things very difficult for other branches, like American Red Cross, to come in and do their job. The government's incompetent handling of the information about the nuclear disaster is due in great part to too much standing around discussing things before acting, and thereby letting things get out of control (I personally thing the nuclear threat is small compared to what is happening up north, but that's what the world media is focused on). By being slow to be honest about the nuclear power plant disaster, to make clear that there is no danger to Tokyo (Geiger Counter Reading from Tokyo at 4pm, 3/17/2011), or even the further areas around the site, and to allay everyone's fears. People are evacuating from Tokyo now in big numbers, heading outside the country or down south, even though there is no need to. There is no strong leadership at all. Tokyo is suffering huge food and gas shortages, in spite of supplies being reportedly perfectly fine, because no one in the government is stepping in to allay people's fears, and so the panic is rising, people are hoarding, and everything is running out. I can't find eggs, toilet paper, milk, rice, batteries, anywhere. Four days now of this madness. And where are the leaders? Tokyo's governor Ishihara is spending his timecampaigning for re-election, rather than stepping in to set up something in Tokyo for refugees to properly have a place to go. He officially gave a speech the other day and told the survivors of the tsunami,
"It is necessary to wash away the greedy mind… by using the tsunami," he told reporters.
"I think that it is divine punishment."
Just try to imagine the reaction to that. And yet he's most likely going to be re-elected.
This is the 8th major disaster I've watched unfold in Japan since I was a child, this one by far the worst, and every single time incompetence, slowness to respond, xenophobia, and apathy have turned it much worse than it should have been. Cultural differences? To me they just seem like excuses for not getting things done that are possible to do.
I'd like to ask what cultural differences have to do with sheltering disaster victims who have no homes, food, medicine, or family? The needs are basic. Offer a home. Get food and medicine to those who need it. Make sure they have companionship, both for safety and for mental well-being. Sure, the logistics are a nightmare, but, what, then just give up? Let the people freeze in the winter cold or starve to death?
(I'm sure we agree on all this… I'm just exhausted and scared and fed up with the way things have been done here so far)
PS: Also I'm not saying this whole thing is east to deal with, not at all. But something has to get started on a grassroots level among local communities. The government alone cannot handle something as massive as this.
PPS: Here is an article written by the Japanese novelist Ryu Murakami, on his experience of the quake and dealing with it. My take is very similar to his (after all, I am still here. I did not leave the country or run away either): Amid Shortages, a Surplus of HopeMar 18, 2011 at 11:36 am #1710807
what matters is saving lives …
a person who is starving, hungry, cold, without water and in a nuclear disaster zone ….. id venture doesn't give a sh*t
neither one who is being shot at and murdered by their own gov … but thats a different thread …Mar 25, 2011 at 10:09 am #1714579
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