The Pride of the Japanese

At 2:46 p.m. on March 11 I was in my office at our company, sitting at the desk browsing through some documents. Suddenly there was a furious vertical jolt, and soon after that the room started to rock violently in a horizontal direction. I quickly dived under the desk in panic. Things fell down and broke; decorations and books flew off the shelves and scattered on the floor. The shaking continued for quite some time. The frightened, terrified voices of our staff and the creaking sound of the whole building told me that something extraordinary had happened.

I have experienced earthquakes with a magnitude of 4 on several occasions in this building, and my body has fully registered the energy of such tremors. But this time, it was different. Is the building going to be okay? Is the floor going to cave in? Such thoughts rushed through my mind. It was the first time for me to experience an earthquake of this scale.

When the swaying had subsided, everyone hurried outside the building. The nearby park and roads were full of people. I can still see the looks of terror on their faces and their quivering movements. I had been following the earthquake information on my cell phone TV, so I knew that its magnitude had been above 5. I, and warned people to be ready for aftershocks.

Just then, on my cell phone TV, someone in Sendai shrieked, 哲ow it痴 shaking violently again! 鏑ook out, there痴 a big jolt coming! I shouted, and immediately the earth rumbled, another large quake began, and people痴 shrieks echoed off the buildings. The white glass building in front of me swayed enormously from left to right, and the antenna on the roof of the neighboring nine-story building rocked violently and looked as though it would fly off at any time.

What on earth was happening? The aftershock was just as large as the first tremor. I told all of our employees to go home. It was perfectly clear that if they stayed at the office, they would just be shut up in a state of confusion.

From the information on my cell phone TV, I learned that the original earthquake had had a magnitude of 8.9, and its epicenter had extended over a wide area from northeastern Japan down to the sea off Ibaraki Prefecture. The aftershock had measured 7.2 as well. Imagining the large tsunami to come, I exclaimed deeply, 展hatever痴 going on? If the epicenter was so extensive, the damage would be unprecedented too.

I wondered how much damage there would be to the plants of manufacturers in the Tohoku and Kita-Kanto regions, to distribution routes and centers, and to local retailers. And lives . . . I just hoped that the damage would be minimal and prayed for everyone痴 safety.

As time passed, it became clear that the earthquake and tsunami had been massive, on a par with the Jogan Earthquake that hit Japan in 869, the kind of disaster that strikes only once in a millennium. The quake痴 magnitude was revised upward to 9.0.

The damage, extending from Tohoku to Kanto, was on an unimaginable scale. And in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami, the accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant plunged the whole nation into a state of panic. People overseas praised the Japanese for remaining so well-mannered even in a calamity, but on the other side of the coin, panic buying has been rampant. Surely I am not the only Japanese who feels ashamed by such behavior.

The essence of the Japanese people, though, is harmony - 滴armony should be valued and quarrels should be avoided. I firmly believe that the Japanese, who have steadfastly faced and overcome natural disasters since the beginning of history, will quickly overcome this disaster too. And I sincerely hope that we also can fully participate in this recovery and thereby contribute to the development of the industry.