March 15th, 2011

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It's important to help Japan

A sentiment that keeps cropping up that I feel should be addressed:
"Japan is not some third-world country so it doesn't need foreign aid; they can take care of themselves."


Japan may not be a third-world country, but the concept of foreign aid is not about "rich helping the poor"; it's about international cooperation and countries helping each other when they are in need. By the "not a third-world country" logic, the US should've just turned down all the help it got from Japan when Katrina hit -- "hey, thanks, guys, but we got it covered, so go donate your money to some starving children somewhere", right? >:(

The scale of devastation and the number of people affected by it is more than any developed country could take, let alone one with so little land and so few natural resources at its disposal. Japan's economy has been ailing in the last two decades; the cost of rebuilding after this disaster -- no formal estimates yet aside from insurance figures, but even those are in the triple digit billions -- risks collapsing it entirely. A collapsed Japanese economy would not be good for anyone. Yes, the Japanese people are very calm compared to what the average Westerner would expect, but that's not because they aren't worried, for fuck's sake.

The demand for basic necessities is already so high that it's outstripping the supply by far, but the transportation infrastructure is badly damaged, so shipping is disrupted all over the country. It will take weeks if not months to get the trains running normally again. The Fukushima reactors being offline, aside from the increasingly dire radiation hazard, is creating a serious power shortage that will last through at least the end of March. More broadly, the destruction may be concentrated in the Northeast, but Japan is a very small island. People will flee the destruction and radiation in the north/northeast to the relatively safe and (physically) unaffected south/southwest; this will create spikes in unemployment rates, acute housing shortages, you name it.

It is not just a simple matter of saving who can be saved, burying the dead, patching up some cracks in the highway and rebuilding a few collapsed high-rises. It's an epic disaster in the absolute full sense of that word, to the point that it would take all the money in the richest OPEC country to restore and rebuild without sending Japan's debt spiralling out of control.

So please, if you can spare anything, donate. If you can't spare anything, offer your skills in exchange for donations in a fandom auction or fundraiser, get the word out, talk about why it's important to help Japan so maybe people who have the means and resources will be moved to act. See if there is something else you can do -- see if there is a local organisation putting together aid/care packages, volunteer to help them out. There are ways you can help without spending any money -- you are in the best position to find out what they are. Please try. :(

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  • mood: worried worried