Friday, April 8, 2011

As Japan Rises Again

I have been listening to people asking if Japan will come back from these recent disasters. Short answer: Yes. The industrial complex is largely untouched; areas of industry are largely spared, and Japan does most of its business overseas now, anyway.

The more pressing question is HOW Japan comes back. Somehow, somewhere, someone or some party will find the secret sauce to marshall the Japanese people, tap into their pride and identities as Japanese and use this unity to rebuild. If this message stresses building coalitions with other nations and taking pride as a model member of the international community, wonderful. We should foster this, all of us, with messages and gestures of genuine support.

If, however, the unifying message contains isolationist elements, or how Japan has lost its prestige, and has become somehow weaker, then Japan might become more nationalistic and militaristic. If messages from neighboring nations are threatening or bullying, this type of message will become more and more appealing. Most of us can't remember such a Japan, but no one should underestimate how such a development would destabilize the region. 

As Japan rebuilds, we should think about what we would place in its new foundation. Do we place fear and betrayal and calls to arms? Or do we place reassurance, and community and, above all, trust?

Sunday, April 3, 2011