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Magnitude 9.0 Earthquake Hits Japan

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011 in the northeastern coast, near Tokyo. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake was a massive 8.0, releasing about 15 megatons (of TNT) or 63.1 petajoules of energy equivalent. At 9.0, it is 474 megatons or 31 times that. (Wikipedia) Given Japan’s relatively earthquake-proof buildings, the resulting tsunami is what causing most of the damage. Japan’s foreign ministry has announced 69 governments pledging support as of today. China’s rescue team has also arrived with personnel and equipment to help find survivors. I just want to take this opportunity to offer condolences to the Japanese people. I was also moved today to see a group of volunteers at a local Chinese grocery store collecting donations for Japan. Some of them represented the The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation. U.S. citizens can make tax-deductible donations to them through here. A summary of the earthquake situation can be found here.

A woman cries after learning that her mother was successfully rescued from a building following an earthquake and tsunami in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan March 12, 2011. (China Daily)

  1. JJ
    March 13th, 2011 at 18:23 | #1

    Tzu Chi is such a great charity and it’s a pity that the founder, Mother Cheng Yen, isn’t as famous as Mother Teresa.

    I’m in Taiwan right now and Tzu Chi has been very active in getting and sending support to Japan.

  2. March 13th, 2011 at 18:26 | #2

    @JJ, I think it’s Master Cheng Yen even though many might adore her as Mother Cheng Yen.

  3. March 13th, 2011 at 20:38 | #3

    Also, quoting what Buxi said of Tzu Chi:

    I just wanted to add that I’ve heard Tzu Chi does not take one penny from donated funds. Everything you give will go directly to helping the victims; everyone you see in a Tzu Chi uniform in Sichuan is working on a volunteer basis.
    On the Tzu Chi donation website, it mentions that even credit card processing fees (3%) will be given by Tzu Chi; every cent you give goes to the victims. This is very different from the Red Cross, for example. Credit card charges will be taken from your donation. The American Red Cross CEO also reportedly makes a salary in the range of $500k+ per year.
    I have donated through the Red Cross, because they were the first choice available. But I will also be making a donation through Tzu Chi later this week.

  4. King Tubby
    March 14th, 2011 at 01:49 | #4

    Aw Guys. Faux/fake/bs concern for the people of Japan. Why: you mention the salary range of the American Red Cross CEO.

    Your real colours.

  5. JJ
    March 14th, 2011 at 03:10 | #5

    @ Allen

    Ah, thanks! I wasn’t clear what the English term they use to call her. Though I think “Mother” sounds warmer 🙂

    @ yinyang

    Also the volunteers pay out of their own pocket for the airfare and other essentials when going to help.

    And Tzu Chi runs the largest recycling program in Taiwan (and in many parts of the world) which covers most of their administrative costs.

  6. Correction
    March 14th, 2011 at 06:28 | #6

    Just making a correction: “15 megatons (of TNT) or 63.1 picojoules of energy”

    I think you meant to write petajoules. Picojoules are around 30 orders of magnitude smaller.

  7. Correction
    March 14th, 2011 at 06:32 | #7

    @King Tubby

    This really isn’t an appropriate place or time to troll.

  8. March 14th, 2011 at 06:50 | #8

    Unfortunately, “earth quake” proofing the buildings in Japanese coastal cities, typically means building the houses with wood and metal, to make them more resistant to shaking and swaying. (And also built on more flexible structural joints, so to avoid breaking during quakes).

    However, these types of buildings are not built to withstand flooding. The flexible structural joints are not stronly tied down to the foundation, so to dampen the effects of quake vibration.

    So, if one examine the tsunami affected areas, one can see that almost all of the houses were simply washed away, as if they were trailer homes.

    *Honestly, I think human beings rely upon technologies too much.

    There is simply no (cost effective) way to build buildings to withstand 9.0 Earthquake AND a 10 meter tall Tsunami wave. I mean, you can build military bunkers that can survive those, but who can afford them, and who would want to live in them?

    The Japanese people have adapted greatly to their disaster prone areas. Part of their focus that we can all learn from, is their quick evacuation planning. But even in that case, you can’t evacuate 100,000’s of people from giant 10 M tall Tsunami waves that hits you in a few minutes after a quake.

    *I think it would be wise to simply avoid building massive structures in Quake prone zones, and build emergency Tsunami proof shelters/bunkers near coastal areas.

    *And I hope Japan’s nuclear reactors will be brought under control, and the Japanese people find relief soon from their terrible tragegy.

  9. TonyP4
    March 14th, 2011 at 06:50 | #9

    @King Tubby
    It is not appropriate here and no timely. However, it is part of the overhead and lower the % of the donation to victims.

    Tong Shen in China is the worst earthquake in recent history. The whole city was leveled off. China wanted to save face and did not accept foreign assistance. Hence, the victims suffered more. Fortunately they did not have nuclear generators as Japan does.

    My small donation will be a symbolic gesture as the damage from nature is so vast that it is beyond description. At least there are no corrupt officials like Haiti getting part of the donation. When you donate, stick to one charity and do not give them info to contact you as it will add a lot of unwanted overhead for them. Red Cross and Oxfam are my favorites. Now I should add the one described here.

    However, as investors, we should buy Japan ETF to help the country to stablelize the market – at least to put a bottom. I do not expect big return for this investment, just wearing a hat for humanity, not for investing.

  10. March 14th, 2011 at 09:37 | #10


    Thx for the correction. 🙂

  11. TonyP4
    March 14th, 2011 at 11:50 | #11

    We need to learn from Japanese on how they face disasters in an orderly manner. If it happened in US, we would have looting. Condolences to Japanese.





    跟 香港傳媒的角度不同,所謂人性最光輝,不一定是披頭散髮流着血去捨身救人,或事必要壯烈地犧牲自己完成大我,而是一個社會即使面臨最殘酷的大自然威脅,居 然仍能夠保持秩序,井井有條,災民個個冷靜排隊領取物資,沒有爭先恐後,更沒有呼天搶地;而政府更能第一時間反應,宣布全國超市、便利店等立即免費提供飲 食給災民,所有開銷由政府埋單。人民有難,政府速速付鈔,速速承擔,有板有眼的。

    這種光輝,就是文明的光輝,下至黎民,上至政府,在面臨最 大考驗時都能夠臨危不亂,這就是日本民族性的成果,這是任何中華民族主義者,不管多極端,不管多討厭(小)日本,都不得不承認的優點。當然,日本人透過歷 史,一直對海嘯這回事存有濃重的憂患意識,真的事發,也就沉着應戰。不淨是誇誇其談甚麼國民教育、公民教育,「五講四美三熱愛」,不淨是咀裏嚷嚷,拍個照 然後一哄而散。真真正正的公德,他們就是做得到。


    甘 地老早說過,地球有足夠的資源for everyone’s need,but not for everyone’s greed,早早警告人性的貪婪。出了大災難,憂傷而滑稽的,是見大陸網民展覽人性的另類陰暗面,反應不是悲天憫人,亦非同舟共濟、再加珍惜地球是我家, 而是見憤青先「熱烈慶祝」日本地動山搖。

    華「髒亂吵」 日「知行合一」

    這種得政府操控認可的民族主義,最初見 諸各大網上討論區,但不過數個鐘頭後,形勢逆轉,大陸網民由先前的「慶祝」,到紛紛討論大和民族面對災難的有序迅速反應,就由驚訝到羨慕,尤其是平日一直 討厭的甚麼日本自衛隊,可以在四小時內趕到災區現場救災;內地同胞齊齊在網上比一比三年前的四川,這個……結果討論日本的救災高效率,又成了官方禁忌。



    柏 楊說的,醜陋的中國人總是「髒、亂、吵」,這既是現實,也是一種民族自我迷信。這番迷信,就是指我等人果然確係常常「髒、亂、吵」,因此掉過頭來,大家攜 手竭斯底里地恐懼「髒、亂、吵」──凡人多就覺得必定會亂,凡意見不同就認為是吵,凡問題複雜點就恐怕是髒,於是迷信要穩定壓倒一切,迷信思想一定要一元 化,變相縱容一言堂,「和諧」最好呀,亦即「河蟹」最穩陣、最安全。


    「知 行合一」,由日本父母教育小孩,重點是身教,家長不會「髒、亂、吵」,教出來的兒童就自然不會「髒、亂、吵」,一代傳一代,這不是學校的德育課、或甚麼公 民國民教育可以取代的──早年我主持一個兒童電視節目,曾聽一個小學生說,他最氣憤爸爸用粗口罵他,說小孩不應講粗口。



    比 較一下香港?看看上周銅鑼灣、跑馬地爆水管的「聲勢」:水務署竟然要用足足五個鐘頭,才關得了那一帶的水喉。聽一些當業主法團委員的朋友埋怨,水務署在港 島派發停水通知時,都會搞錯了大廈所用的水喉究竟是哪一條,結果宣布停水卻沒有停,沒有通知卻突然停水,情況根本不罕見;也即是說,平時大安旨意,系統混 亂,面對突發情況,自然只會手忙腳亂。




  12. March 14th, 2011 at 12:16 | #12

    One thing is, Japanese culture is far more monolithic than Chinese culture, and it is part of the reason why they are able to maintain a single standard of social behaviors, ingrained in their education system.

    Chinese culture is far too diversed to achieve this degree of social behaviors.

    Once upon a time, Chinese history detailed Chinese Kingdoms that had similar standards of social behaviors, but I fear we have lost that uniformity, inevitably because of the vast number of Chinese people and sub-cultures.

    Still, a little more education of manners in the Chinese society is a good idea.

    Economic development should come with some development of social behaviors.

  13. March 14th, 2011 at 13:56 | #13

    I’ts diverse and monolithic at the same time and is dependent on the issues involved. For example, there is an Okinawan identity which has been heightened by their feeling the rest of Japan is victimizing them with whatever problems brought by the U.S. military bases.

    Conversely, there is this general feeling of “subjugation” from loosing WW2 and now occupied by the U.S..

    Different sides of the same coin dependent on how the population is sliced.

  14. March 14th, 2011 at 14:24 | #14

    This homogeneity was achieved through war and conquest and low tolerance for diversity – in contrast with China, where war might have been used to achieve political unity, but people are generally allowed to practice cultural diversity – to continue to be who they are. This is why you see so much diversity within China – even within the “Han” “ethnic” group.

  15. March 15th, 2011 at 06:26 | #15

    I think there is much more of a cultural enforcement of the monolithic identity in Japan, than in China.

    In a way, I think in China, the cultural diversity of different regions and ethnic groups are more celebrated in unique regional cultural histories, as parallel contributors to the Chinese culture.

  16. March 15th, 2011 at 06:28 | #16

    3rd reactor core melt down in Japan, radioactivity increasing significantly.

    Many nations are getting paranoid about nuclear power.

    Fortunately for China, the newest Pebble-Bed reactors are safe from these types of disaster scenario. If not 100% safe, it’s close to 95% safe (short of dropping a nuclear bomb directly on the Pebble-bed reactor).

    Unfortunately for Japan, their reactors are all very old.

  17. March 15th, 2011 at 06:46 | #17

    2 things came into my recent conversations about this tragedy in Japan:

    (1) Re: some noted Chinese gloating over this tragedy in Japan

    (2) Re: some noted Chinese “preaching” over this tragedy in Japan.

    Summation: We Chinese people should neither gloat nor preach over this kind of human tragedy in Japan. Let us remember why:

    (1) No human beings deserve such unforeseen terrible tragedies in their lives. If individuals commit crimes, there are fitting punishments. Wishing evil and/or gloating over misfortune is carrying evil within one’s own hearts.

    (2) These tragedies are not “moral lessons” to preach over people for their other mistakes. Who among us do not have mistakes or sins in our lives? Do we all preach to each other that we should suffer misfortunes as “moral lessons”?

    Let us remember how some have preached to Chinese people about what we should have learned from riots in Tibet and Xinjiang.

    Let us stop the moral self-righteousness. Earthquakes and Tsunamis are no more preaching platforms than bloody riots or 9/11.

    Do not mix in your good wishes for the victims with “I hope you learned something”. It makes one sound all too pretentious in that certain Western colonial manner. (What would Confucius do? WWCD? Confucius would not gloat or preach. Confucius would say that it is a sign of small minded-nessed for someone who counts others’ misfortunes as his own righteousness).

    No one should pretend that we are the moral center, so no one should give into the temptation of decorating one self as the moral center.

    Governments will debate and compromise issues and conflicts. It is not the place of the ordinary citizens to pass moral judgments upon one another unknown across borders.

  18. TonyP4
    March 15th, 2011 at 06:52 | #18

    The Pebble-Bed reactors are small and they will not make a dent for China’s nuclear program so far. Most if not all of the larger reactors being built are based on US/West design.

    Japanese nuclear program started early and this is why most of the older reactors are about 45 years old. They do not have the safety features and containment from today’s reactors. Some have three back up systems but they all failed. With this magnitude of natural disaster, there is a chance we cannot plan for it.

    I hated Japanese for the war crimes in WW2 if you recall my posts. However, from my contact, I admire this generation of Japanese and they have nothing to do with the crimes their grand pa committed. We should not carry hatred from one generation to another. Money is only good if we can use it to help others.

  19. March 23rd, 2011 at 11:15 | #19

    Was happy today to learn that I could submit my donation receipt and my company will match 100%.

  20. January 29th, 2012 at 18:39 | #20
  21. zack
    January 29th, 2012 at 18:55 | #21

    i certainly hope the China hawks in Tokyo are taking note of this; it’s definitely to thei benefit if they were reminded of which side their bread is buttered

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