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Japanese Resiliency in Times of Disaster: Something we can all learn from

Oshima Mura, Japan
Japanese Resiliency in Times of Disaster: Something we can all learn from
on June, 10 2014
Oshima Mura, Japan

Image credit: An aerial view of Oshima-Mura, Japan, 11 days after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami taken by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord under Public Domain.

Through the years, Japan has been tested with lots of natural disasters from earthquake, tsunami, floods and many others. They have also faced the deadliest one time crash in aviation history, the Japanese Airlines Flight 123 killing over 500 people. Of course, who can forget the atomic bombing of 2 major Japanese cities during the World War II?

However, despite what Japan has gone through, it is so amazing to see how the country still remains as one of the most economically competitive in the entire world. In fact, just a few years after the Great Earthquake devastated the entire country causing a catastrophic tsunami, Japan seems to have been able to bounce back already. The Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which have seen tens and thousands of deaths now are now back on their feet as if nothing has happened.

Comparing how Japan handled trials and adversities with that of other countries that have experienced the same, it is indeed inspiring. For some places, after being devastated by disasters, the people simply gave up.

How Japan handles disasters

After the Great Earthquake struck Japan in 2011, reporters from around the world flew to Japan to see what was going on and how people have become after the disaster. To their surprise, the usual scenes in a disaster stricken area didn’t happen.

They were expecting people to loot, as food sources were scarce. Instead, they saw Japanese people patiently waiting in line for their turn to get food. Those who had very limited resources and were expected to save some for their family were even seen handing out what they had to their neighbors. The entire country was very calm and orderly. Yes, there were tears here and there, but there was no chaos as what many people have expected.

In times of disasters, crime rates are expected to skyrocket as everyone struggles for survival. However, in Japan, crime rates remained low. People are expected to look out for their neighbors. If they see criminal acts, they simply report what they have seen to the police. This is the reason why we don’t see Japan as open and accepting to foreigners as other countries. They remain close not because they are selfish, but because they find a deep sense of emotional and cultural connection to full Japanese people.

Values formation over time

Though it seems like the Japanese resiliency is awe inspiring, this value did not just happen in a snap. Some people might think that Japanese are simply obedient and passive. This is why they easily follow the command of their leaders. Others think that it is because of religion. However, the truth is that they have practiced certain values over time that they have used greatly in times of disaster.

For instance, when Japanese find something on the subway, they don’t keep it. Instead, they return it to the lost and found section whether or not someone sees them. Their government officials are also seen as transparent and not corrupt. This is why people respect them and obey what they say whatever the circumstances are. Private executive are not paid as much as executives from other countries. They are in fact seen more as philanthropists rather than powerful businessmen.

In short, the positive values of helping and being strong for each other are practiced on a daily basis. Thus, in times of adversities, they know what to do. They might be seen as emotionally weak, but once they get back on their feet, they can really rise all the way to the top. This value of resiliency is something that the whole world must learn from the Japanese.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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