Tonight on Japan’s national broadcaster NHK it was reported that victims of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami would receive financial assistance from the Japan Red Cross. It was reported that the donations collected nationally by the Japan Red Cross would provide each victim with JPN¥350,000 (about USD$4,100 or GBP£2,500). Some people may focus on the amount saying, ‘that’s all?’ with sympathy for the victims, and perhaps there should be more exclamation in their voice than initially said.
The problem is that the report said that the Red Cross collected money nationally, that is, domestically in Japan. This ignores the huge international donations directly to Red Cross Japan via Google (including .com and .co.uk among others), it also ignores the donations made via the British Red Cross, the Australian Red Cross, other branches of Red Cross International, and via alternative charities. It is excellent that the survivors are getting financial assistance to survive and re-establish their lives, however, the international contribution has either been ignored or not counted (yet).
This could be regarded as an understandable omission, however, in the first week of the earthquake crisis there was never a single report of any sort of international response on the evening national news. Only because of the BBC website did I know that other countries were responding to the crisis. It would have been easy for the Japanese people to believe that they were alone in the crisis for at least a week. Though, a brief mention by the Japanese Prime Minister that he spoke to Barack Obama on the phone was mentioned during a press briefing that was aired live just once. Eventually, there was a short news story of the New Zealand contingent fresh from their own earthquake disaster, then a short story on some of the international contingents including a group of Israeli doctors, but several news stories of the US Army and US Navy’s support took the greater portion of the pie. If there is an Australian contingent here, I’m sure the Australians should feel a little ignored and unappreciated. Likewise any German, British or other countries contingents.
What’s the cause of this? I have lived in Taiwan and South Korea, and notice the differences. In Taiwan and SK, the news programmes and general media recognises the international community and contributions in the everyday lives of people in these countries. Hong Kong and Singapore news cannot survive without mentioning their neighbours. In contrast, Japanese media seem very ethno or ego-centric. For instance, their travel reporters only speak to people who speak Japanese (obviously sourced via the embassy) or use charactatured voice-overs. Such voice-overs deny the informant their own cultural identity. Business news programmes only really report on what Japanese companies are doing in Japan, and rarely what they are doing overseas. Very, very, very rarely is there a report of what Japanese competitors are doing. That is, I remember only one news story about how the South Korean government and companies have been investing in Asian countries, and how they are successfully out-competing Japanese interests.
It would be nice for the international community to know that their efforts in supplying support personnel and money are being recognised and appreciated within Japan.
See a photo of Japanese yen here at my Asia Photo Connection Portfolio.