Japanese will be back
NO room exists for flippancy in discussing the terrible events t hat have s t r uck Japan and threaten to plague that nation well into the future.
So any comparison between how Queensland political and civic leaders responded to the natural disasters that struck here at home in our summer of devastation and what is unfolding in Japan – Australia’s trading partner and friend – is n o t d o n e f o r c h u r l i s h reasons.
At the height of Queensland’s problems, Premier Anna Bligh maintained a tenuous hold on composure as she made her now famous ‘ ‘ We are Queenslanders’’ speech at a press conference.
‘‘ As we weep for what we have lost, and as we grieve for family and friends and we confront the challenge that is before us, I want us to remember who we are,’’ she said. ‘‘ We are Queenslanders. We are the people they breed tough north of the border.’’
A n d t h e n , i n a l i n e strangely reminiscent of a Chumbawamba song that sounds like it’s being sung by a bunch of British soccer thugs, she told Queenslanders and the world: ‘‘ We’re the ones that they knock down, and we get up again.’’
T h e w o r d s w e r e s a i d quickly, as though they’d been rehearsed. She was upset, there were some tears, but she was not struggling to grasp suitable phrases.
The lines were rushed, so there’s probably quite a bit in the views expressed by observers – including in this newspaper – that they were prepared by her public relations team. Even so, she would have briefed the writer on the sort of thing she wanted to say.
Whatever the situation, Ms Bligh met her responsibilities and was impressive as a leader in the cyclone and floods crises – something recognised more readily in other states than in her own bailiwick. down to city officials, might make the sort of rallying cry to the people that Bligh or Parker has made remains to be seen.
At this point, Japan has been bordering on panic, its systems in turmoil due to the quake and tsunami and its e mergency s e r v i c e s a nd damaged transport infrastructure in that part of Honshu hamstrung by the third crisis involving critically damaged nuclear reactors.
Indeed, its circumstances have been likened to those after the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought World War II to an end.
There is a terrible irony in all of this. Japan’s last great cataclysmic event involved mass death and destruction wreaked by atomic detonations, consequences of the actions of the nation’s leaders at that time. Sixty-six years later, its foundations are again rocked, this time by a natural disaster and as a consequence, the potential f o r a n o t h e r m a n - m a d e tragedy that has shown the folly of building nuclear reactors close to known fault lines.
It might not be in their nature for a leader there to utter such a rallying speech, but history has shown that as a people, the Japanese – like people everywhere – are resilient.
Despite world anger at Japan’s actions that led to the Pacific war, the ability of its people to claw their way back after defeat and certainly in the wake of the nuclear blasts had to be admired.
They embraced Western democracy; they became an i ndustrial and economic powerhouse.
But before they did all that, they had power restored and had the trams running in some parts of Hiroshima within a couple of days of the centre of that city being obliterated.
Yes, t hey again’.
‘ g e t