Ja­panese will be back

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot - Townsville Bul­letin Satur­day, March 19, 2011

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’.

wil l

‘ g e t

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