INASHIKI, IBARAKI – The April 17 letter from Daniel Potocki, “Give the foreign experts a chance,” struck a chord. If I had the chance to write Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the Japanese government, it would be a rather emotional appeal.
For the past 20 years we have lived in Edosaki — now part of Inashiki City — in the south of Ibaraki Prefecture, just a stone’s throw from Lake Kasumigaura. Life has not changed much since the Edo Period. The nearest train station is at least 15 km away, people rely on farming and small business, and attempts to modernize the town’s infrastructure fail for lack of interest from either the local government or the citizens themselves. While everyone is complaining about a myriad of inconveniences, only a few people are willing to act toward improvement.
For the past five years, I have worked as the head of a local nonprofit organization for the preservation of designated cultural property and town planning, and must admit that we have not made any progress to tell of. Government subsidies continue to get poured into ever more roads and other public projects that do little more than enrich a few, while cultural and educational matters are frequently ignored.
However, nature and delicious farming produce abound, people are friendly, life is easy, and we were planning to stay here for a long time. Even our kids, 16 and 13, had no immediate plans to move away after finishing their high school education.
But now we are shaken to the bones by the mess at the Fukushima nuclear power station. Now is no time for political bickering or pointing fingers. There is only one thing for Kan to do: Accept help from the outside and, if it is not too late, force this help on Tokyo Electric Power Co. and its cronies.
This is not the time for false pride — the we-can-do-it alone approach — nor is it the right time for anything except a resolution of the threat that looms above everyone in eastern Japan: that vast parts of eastern Japan might become uninhabitable, or at least not arable, for years to come. People want to rebuild and get on with their lives, but they cannot if there is no future to look forward to. The lack of speed, clarity and foreign expertise scares the living hell out of us.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and many countries have offered to dispatch experts to Japan. Why not welcome them? This problem concerns the whole world, and Japan must act as a responsible and full-fledged member of the global community for once.
We ask Kan to show true leadership by accepting all help that is offered, and delegate the scientific tasks to the experts, Japanese and foreign alike. No country would be able to solve a crisis like this on its own, so why pretend Japan can? We will feel better only when Kan puts everyone’s efforts into the resolution of this crisis and lets nonessentials wait. Kan must lead and be quick about it!
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.
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