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The patience and stoicism demonstrated by ordinary Japanese people has been an enduring characteristic of recent times. These are qualities that have marked the extraordinary advances of this country in the second half of the last century and will feature largely in the recovery that will surely follow.

It is lamentable that this is not matched by the competence of Japan’s political leaders. While pertinacity and self-sacrifice are admirable, political apathy will yet again be this nation’s undoing come the next disaster. Now is the time to demand answers from Japan’s leaders.

Why is the unfurling disaster at Fukushima still not resolved and why is there no open public inquiry? Why did it take three weeks for Prime Minister Naoto Kan to visit the affected areas? Why has there been no debate on the public ownership of Tokyo Electric Power Co., daylight savings time, or the standardization of national electricity frequencies? What are the plans for reconstruction and how will it be financed?

Politics is not best left to the experts; it’s the duty of all citizens to question and scrutinize, because it’s their future that is being decided. March 11, 2011, will mark a pivotal moment in Japan’s history. The economic miracle that follows could be as profound as the previous one — this time accommodated rather than hindered by an international community that is sympathetic to Japan’s plight and sees recovery here as in its own best interests. This has to be done on terms that are fair and by politicians who truly serve their people.

jon evans

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