Stupidity of planners and builders

Tokyo

I was distressed, but not shocked, to read in the May 14 Jiji article “Extra work jacking up disaster housing costs” that homes for tsunami victims were not being built with the cold in mind.

As with many things in life, the simplest approach to a problem is often the best. If I were to build a permanent or temporary house for my family in the north of Japan, I would ensure, among other things, that it would be weatherproof against the heat of summer and the cold of winter. It would be protected as well as possible from earthquakes using up-to-date technology and situated in a place safe from landslides or tsunami. It would be as close as possible to arterial roads and shops and civil amenities.

As we are not in a perfect world, especially in the disaster-stricken areas of the Tohoku region, I would appreciate and take into account that land is scarce and that the location may not be ideal for my family. But there are two items on which I would never skimp: safety and comfort!

So, I am at a loss to understand the stupidity of central and local planners and builders who designed and built housing that is unsafe from land/snowslides and vulnerable to the winter’s cold. It is too easy to say, after the fact, that we didn’t expect this or didn’t have enough of the right materials, etc. But that can never be an excuse for slipshod work.

How could this happen in a land famed for attention to detail in matters such as the manufacture of cars, optical instruments and electrical appliances? The answer is negligence in forward planning, in the body politic (note the pathetic squabbles in the Diet) and of duty to care and provide for ordinary citizens.

I believe it’s time for a change — a change not only in the way Japan is governed but also in the way we think as a people and as a nation. It is time to shout “Enough!” from the rooftops and the streets. We have had enough mismanagement in our daily lives.

To all those who have woefully misled us, we should say from our hearts, “For God’s sake, go! And let us alone find a better way to live our lives in peace, comfort and safety.”

But who will lead us in such a positive step forward?

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

paul gaysford