How tough are the Japanese?
Real tough. Earthquake and tsunami tough.
The original earthquake and many of the follow-up quakes have lasted minutes more than the typical seconds-long quakes we get in the United States.
Most of the damage we’ve seen was caused by the earthquakes resulting tsunami, and not the earthquake itself.
Why did the earthquake do comparatively little damage? The Japanese now how to build things. Really well.
The tsunami on the other hand was an unstoppable force, the Earth shaking is powerful, but little compares to the destructive power of an onrushing sea. I’m not going to fault Japanese building on that one. There’s not much you can do when the Pacific ocean decides it would like to stretch inland few hundred meters.
As for the nuclear power plants, considering where they are located, suffering one of the worst natural catastrophes in recorded history, and they haven’t been destroyed (yet) – they are just as tough. Perhaps a meltdown may occur, but 4 days into it and the Japanese operators are still fighting to contain their nuclear fuel rods. That is impressive. You know what else, the Japanese are going to learn from what happened and figure out how to protect these power plants from an even larger earthquake.
And finally, the people themselves. While the death toll is expected to hit five digits, at least, I haven’t seen any wailing and screaming in the streets. No mass hysteria. No looting. Only requests for emergency help.
Those old Godzilla movies had it wrong. The Japanese people don’t freak out and run wildly through the streets when a catastrophe hits, they buckle down and figure our what needs to be done.
Only now are we beginning to see images of the deep sadness of the Japanese. Disciplined, yet raw.
Time Magazine’s Krista Mahr does a great job of summing up the life of Japan’s everyman in her article: Japan’s People Power: Residents Help Each Other in Quake’s Aftermath.
ABC News did a pretty good job too: