Immediately after the March 11 quake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, Japanese victims were praised by the foreign media for their calmness, orderliness and perseverance in the midst of unprecedented suffering. But the positive image of Japan is turning into a negative one because of the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s haphazard handling of the crisis at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

An apparent failure at the initial stage on the part of the government and Tepco to realize the serious nature of the accidents and to act accordingly and the fact that they still cannot get the crisis under control more than a month after the accidents started are causing irritation among foreign countries and tarnishing Japan’s image.

Government leaders and officials should realize that Japan’s handling of the crisis is damaging Japan’s trustworthiness as a member of the international community. The nuclear accidents are putting people living around the Fukushima No. 1 power plant in a difficult situation and damaging the agriculture, fisheries and tourism industries. The power shortage caused by the accidents is also causing problems for manufacturing industries. But government leaders and officials should also look beyond the border and consider how other countries are viewing the nuclear crisis. Countries such as China, Taiwan and South Korea have increased radiation checks of Japanese products. Not only Japanese agricultural and fishery products but also Japanese industrial products are facing possible import restrictions.

In this age of mutual dependence among economies, accidents as the one at Fukushima No. 1 power plant harm both Japanese firms and their business partners in foreign countries. Production overseas will be negatively impacted by events in Japan.

The South Korean media strongly criticized Japan’s release of highly radioactive water from the nuclear power plant into the sea without any prior notice. Japanese leaders should keep in mind that despite the strenuous efforts of workers on the scene at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, Japan’s handling of the nuclear crisis is damaging its image internationally by causing apprehensions in other countries.

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