Japan - view from the West
by Oksana Jørgensen, Hejnsvig, Denmark

No matter what side of the planet you are from, there can hardly be anybody who could stay indifferent to what has recently happened in Japan. The whole world expresses deepest sympathies to the people of Japan for the painful tragedy that has befallen this great nation in spring 2011. Like many others, I have been following the media reports from Japan daily being shocked and amazed every time. It is hard to grasp the enormity of this historic natural disaster where thousands of its citizens have been killed, towns and villages have been swept away by a massive tsunami and the nuclear catastrophe has made the nation live under threat.  

Rescue and support teams came to Japan from all around the world to provide assistance. The damage was already estimated at hundreds of billion of dollars, but it is too early to know for sure. Because Japan is the world's third largest economy, the financial aftershocks are being felt from Tokyo to London to Wall Street.

What made me hold my breath was the search for the thousands of missing souls which was frequently interrupted by tsunami warnings. How many days, hours, and minutes more can survivors live trapped beneath the ruins without nourishment and warmth? How many were washed into the ocean when the massive tidal wave surged back to the sea?

The country is heavily reliant on nuclear power. No country has taken greater care with the design and building of these plants than the Japanese. However, the enormity of the disaster overruled their plans. The Fukushima Nuclear Plant reactors overheated due to damage from the earthquake and tsunami. They began to leak radioactive material into the environment threatening nearby residents and, depending on the wind, perhaps millions more. Even more alarming is the fact that it may still take months to end the threat.

Still in the grips of their catastrophe, the people of Japan have been stoic, reserved and accepting of their suffering and misfortune. They were shown to quietly sit in freezing and poorly furnished shelters that had no power or heat. Hungry and thirsty, they were standing in long lines waiting for a few scraps of food and water. They calmly accepted their quota of gasoline after waiting for hours. Their courage in the face of overwhelming adversity is almost incomprehensible.

But the Japanese have overcome a destructive world war. They have recovered from the uncertain difficulties of a "lost decade" brought on when their economy had a hard time in the early 90s. For sure, images of cars, boats and houses washing across the open fields of northern Japan will last a lifetime. Perhaps the scars will never heal. But, as Japan struggles to right itself, it will certainly recover and rebuild because it is a strong nation with a resilient people. There will be much for the world to learn from this unimaginable tragedy.

During these last couple of month I was very pleased to get the news from Japan directly – from a person who lives in the country and sees everything with the own eyes – my new friend, a Japanese lecturer Sekine Kazuaki. At the moment Sekine lectures on two issues: the reasons for earthquakes as well as the possibility of future big earthquakes in Japan, and the problem of Nuclear Power Stations after earthquakes. Our correspondence has been and still is very precious to me, it feels me with inspiration and teaches me to be strong under any circumstances. I am sure our readers all over the world would be happy to hear a true voice from Japan as here comes Sekine’s report about the country’s life during and after the tragedy. The photos from Sekine’s report are provided by Dani Nehushtai.