Japan Crisis

The Crisis in Japan poses many threats which can last for a decade or more to come.  What has happened in Japan is truly a tragedy.  An earthquake of monumental strength (8.9+ on the Richter Scale) then caused a Tsunami on this small island country.  This also fractured a nuclear power plant.  So, an earthquake on top of a tsunami on top of a threat of a nuclear meltdown.  On top of it, blizzards are complicating the issues of evacuation, travel and all other things associated with freezing temperatures.

Natural disasters occur in nearly every part of the world all the time.  But this is especially disturbing because it is a threat to the rest of the world.  Already in Hawaii and the Pacific Northwestern US there are reported deaths due to the Tsunami and floods, and now the threat of radiation drifting from Japan to the West Coast of USA.  While they say by the time it reaches the USA the radiation will not be a threat, however, certainly any fisheries along the way will be affected.  Its common sense, eat seafood (or any food) that has been exposed to radiation, it then becomes a threat to the health of its consumers.

But rather than give into media hype and those news programs which feed of tragedy for ratings, examine the extended threat that exists.  Try to stick with me here, its a simple, logical, process of thought that needs to be played out.

Recently Wagu beef has been the top trend in the culinary world.  Would you now trust any beef produced into Japan on to your dinner table?  Would you order it out even if they swore it was imported prior to March?  The Japanese culture is especially known for its love of fresh fish, served raw, better known as sushi & sashimi.  While most fish you get served in the USA is produced in the USA, the fact is that Japan holds most of the world’s tuna reserves.  It is a commodity like orange juice, coffee, gas, gold, etc.  The Japanese have stockpiled the world’s supply of tuna from around the world, driving up its price.  Even Italian tuna fishermen (fishers for those who think there might be females in the occupation of fishing) have vocally documented that each year the tuna yield gets smaller as well as the tuna themselves.  Tuna is one of the most over-fished fish in the world.  Once Japan imports it, it is flash frozen at -50F and stored.  At that temperature it can stand most likely for years, but like any commodity, there can never be enough and “years” turns into months as demand increases.

I don’t know much about nuclear radiation, how it can or can’t affect foods frozen at unimaginable temperatures, or how far it can reach out to neighboring China, Indonesia, Hawaii or even California.  I do know that after the 3-Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania near the New Jersey border occurred, people would not buy Hershey’s chocolate for years in fear that it contained radiation.  Clearly, what we have here, (even on my part) a lack of eduction and understanding as to if we are at risk, for how long and to what types of foods.  So, assuming that there is no risk but I am like the general public who does not know that I am at risk, I do not buy any tuna, shrimp, wagu beef and/or anything remotely connected to this crisis, it now leads to an economic crisis.  In Japan, there is no food left on shelves.  If we stop buying their electronics, foods, commodities and/or cease travel, tourism or even stop sending in donations because we feel it is a lost cause, it not only costs lives, but ultimately will leave an economic tsunami greater than the one the USA was blamed for in 2008.  As most know, Japan produces not just most of the tuna we eat, but also most of our electronics, televisions, video and still cameras, and so many other things too many to list.  Remember, Japan is the world’s 3rd largest economy, and if it fails, the rest of the world will suffer even more economic hardship, as if its not bad enough already.

As an American, I have mixed feelings about Japan.  And in order to understand my feelings, I have to revisit its history.  Japan was at war with China.  The USA imposed an embargo on Japan in defense of China, the Japanese became angry they were making life in Japan harder for its citizens and their war against China, so they bombed Pear Harbor.  The USA responded with not one but two nuclear bombs in Japan killing over 250,000 people in 1945.  These two events are the only active deployments of nuclear weapons during wartime.  The number of Japanese who died from cancer from that radiation years later I don’t know but I am sure you can easily see, this was horrific.

How ironic now that the USA wants to help save them from another nuclear holocaust, but this is the way of politics.  China was our friend, Japan was our enemy, we conquered Japan then China turned communist and became our enemy, now we owe China trillions of dollars in debt for products they manufacturer for us and we cannot pay for.  It is also important to note that once we defeated Japan in World War II, as part of the peace agreement, they were not allowed to have an army, and they would be protected under the USA.  With trillions NOT spent on the military, they invested in technology, which is why they then rose to one of the world’s great economies.  With money saved by NOT having a military, they can now concentrate on innovation and technology, and its obvious nearly all our electronics, cars and other such daily luxuries and necessities come from Japan.

Eventually Japan got its right to build a military again, as it should to defend itself from other neighboring countries, but in those decades they did not, they became a world superpower, even buying out more than half of the real estate of Rockefeller Center in New York City.  The Rockefellers are one of the all time richest capitalists of all modern history.  Their automobiles such as Toyota, Nissan (once Datsun), Honda, and subsidiary companies like Lexus, Acura and Infinity are flooded in the USA market since the 1980s.  Even my father who was on a Navy ship in WWII during a Kamikaze attack in which he was wounded and then went on to the raising of the US flag on Iwo Jima admitted “I fought against them, I risked and almost life fighting them, but they by far make the best car there is today”.  And while that can be an argument for the automotive world, it still holds true.  Even most American cars have many or most parts made in Japan.

So, while I pause for a moment to think about whether or not I should text “JAPAN” to my cellular provider to donate $10, in all reality, there is no reason why I should not donate more.  Sure, they bombed Pearl Harbor, but it was provoked by the USA (no matter what the history books state, really, why would a country at war bomb a country at peace with them?), and even if it was unprovoked, we tested out our nuclear arsenal to the tune of 250,000+ citizens and what today could easily amount to billions if not a trillion dollars of damage.  Yes, we protected them and help rebuild them to become the world’s 3rd largest economy, but it is for that very reason, we need to help rebuild them again.  Nearly any/everyone from World War II is dead or dying.  The USA changed the world, for the better in WWII, but we also made mistakes.  Now is the time to help rebuild again for world good. Its no longer a world economy, but something more local than we could have ever imagined.  Japan is our friend, China has turned into our friend, even Germany and Russia are our friends, but the Arab world we have scorned, and no matter what we do, they may never like us, however, its time to do right by our friends and neighbors like Japan, who we were once not so kind to, even if vice-verse.

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