One Year Ago Today
The Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami Brought a Mighty Nation To Its Knees But Let The World Also See The Best Of Japanese Determination And Spirit
At 2:46pm Tokyo Time, on March 11, 2011, a 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, resulting in a massive tsunami that struck fishing towns and cities, leaving over 16,000 dead and another 3,000 still missing and unaccounted for. As when tragedy struck America on 9/11, many of the dead and missing were firefighters and rescue workers trying to do their job in the midst of calamity.
The world responded, and we all did what we could, even as we watched in horror as footage of the massive wave and its carnage reached us all quickly with the new speed and penetration of social media. As an actor with ethnic and familial ties to Japan, I joined the international call for aid, for as Hurricane Katrina taught us, even prosperous and strong nations need the world’s help when tragedy of such magnitude strikes. Through a concerted twitter campaign for text donations, to which I added my own hashtag #TodayWeAreAllJapanese, we were able collectively to raise millions of dollars for the people of Japan.
Japan continues to feel the effects of that terrible day, with fears of irradiated food still haunting Japanese markets from the meltdown of three of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors–leaving a lesson that other nations have taken to heart, that no nuclear facility can be completely safe when pitted against the devastating power of nature. Debris from the tsumani may begin to wash up on the shores of California, a grim reminder of how connected our destinies are.
In their resolve to rebuild, the Japanese have set a high bar for the world. In the wake of the tragedy, there was no looting, no violence, and a strong sense of order and selflessness. Elderly Japanese volunteered to help with the gritty task of nuclear clean-up, offering up their shorter expected life spans for the greater good. It is moving to me to see such human spirit, after so much was lost for so many.