March 15th, 2011
05:24 PM ET

Letters to the President: #785 'The strength of Japan'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Japan struggles on. Here is today’s letter.

Dear Mr. President,

Following the stories from Japan I am struck by the tremendous composure of so many of the people there in the midst of this tragedy. I watched a good bit of NHK’s coverage with English translation last night, and time after time I saw people facing the most horrendous circumstances speaking with in admirably measured tones and with an apparent sense of calm.

Related: Orderly disaster reaction in line with deep cultural roots

I saw one man whose children survived, but whose wife is missing. The camera crew followed him as he went from place to place, asking if anyone had any information. At one hospital, a woman talked with him for a while. She said she had been in the area near his home searching for survivors, but no, she had not found his wife. She apologized as if it were a personal failing on her part, which it decidedly was not. And he responded by thanking her for her time and effort. They bowed to each other, and his search went on.

There can be no doubt that Japanese families and their many friends, far and near, are suffering tremendously. I can hardly imagine their grief. Their sense of loss and displacement must be overwhelming. I suspect, in private, many more are breaking down in despair than those I have seen doing so in front of the cameras.

I don’t know much about Japanese culture; or rather, I should say, I know enough about it to know that I don’t understand it well. But I feel as if I know strong people when I see them, and the people of Japan seem to be showing an enormous amount of strength and resilience. I feel as if what I am seeing is the respect of individuals for the greater community. It seems in so many cases as if people are being strong because they know that everyone else is suffering too, and they must be brave together.

Maybe I have it all wrong. But I admire it. And it makes me believe, whatever calamities are yet to come their way, the people of Japan will stand together and rise triumphant.


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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    All the Japanese people I have known have been very dignified nice people. Their ethos places a high premium on dignity and respect for others.

    I just wonder how this event compares with the atomic bombs and their aftereffect that were dropped on them in WW2.

    March 15, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  2. Daniel Cloutier

    Can Liguid Nitrogen be used in a controlled
    way to cool the reactors. Or can they be frozen solid by enough liquid Nitrogen?

    I am not an expert but I have this question would this chemical work with the aluminum tubes.
    even after melt down.

    Good job AC 360

    March 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  3. Pam

    It is amazing how Americans are amazed at the Japanese people. If the "Federal Government" would not have married the "Federal Reserve" back in 1913, which led to the break-up of family.....there is a strong possibility that the people of the United States would have higher self-esteem.....would understand "the fruits of thy labor", would never have expected nothing, if they did not give nothing.....Mother's would have stayed home, Fathers would have went to work, children would have been taught from the home..honor thy father and mother, respect for the elders, learn from the elders. Well, you get my point.
    The United States of America turned against her people when the two merged. It took a while, but what they set out to do has been done. The world banks are the culprits, with the government wanting to control ours and theirs.....In so doing, needed to come up with government programs that would keep the majority at bay...ignorant and always asking for handouts, or......taking.

    March 15, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  4. Carole Valpone

    Dear Tom,

    I have been glued to the TV watching CNN and I am in awe of Japanese culture and how they all seem to pull together to help each other and maintain such great composure. I have developed a much greater respect for the Japanese people. Thank you for all or your great reporting. I am a fan.

    Carole Valpone

    March 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm |