UPDATE on the Japanese Response to Conditions in Fukushima
 Portsmouth cherry blossoms 
The cherry tree above is one of those that blooms on the bank of South Mill Pond in Portsmouth. These trees were a gift to Portsmouth from our Sister City, Nichinan. A short Wikipedia definition notes that "In Japan cherry blossoms are an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life... The transience of the blossoms, the extreme beauty and quick death, has often been associated with mortality."


This story orginally appeared in the Shanghai Daily. It comes from a Vietnamese immigrant to Japan who is now working as a policeman on emergency duty in Fukushima and involves a little Japanese boy who, as the author says, "taught an adult like me a lesson on how to behave like a human being."  
  
We share it with you, along with some of the links from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs daily updates, as a reminder that the recovery continues in Japan -- and that the Japanese people continue to respond with their own unique sense of what is required in the face of such challenges.   

Ha Minh Thanh's story:

One little boy
 

Last night, I was sent to a little grammar school to help a charity organization distribute food to the refugees. It was a  long line that snaked this way and that and I saw a little boy around 9 years old. He was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of shorts.          

     

 

It was getting very cold and the boy was at the very end of the line. I was worried that by the time his turn came there wouldn't be any food left. So I spoke to him. He said he was at school when the earthquake happened. His father worked nearby and was driving to the school. The boy was on the third floor balcony when he saw the tsunami sweep his father's car away.            

               

I asked him about his mother. He said his house is right by the beach and that his mother and little sister probably didn't make it. He turned his head and wiped his tears when I asked about his relatives.                                                      

               

 

The boy was shivering so I took off my police jacket and put it on him. That's when my bag of food ration fell out. I picked it up and gave it to him. "When it comes to your turn, they might run out of food. So here's my portion. I already ate. Why don't you eat it?"                                                    

               

The boy took my food and bowed. I thought he would eat it right away, but he didn't. He took the bag of food, went up to where the line ended and put it where all the food was waiting to be distributed.            

               

 

I was shocked. I asked him why he didn't eat it and instead added it to the food pile. He answered: "Because I see a lot more people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will distribute the food equally."                                   

               

 

When I heard that I turned away so that people wouldn't see me cry. A society that can produce a 9-year-old who understands the concept of sacrifice for the greater good must be a great society, a great people.                              

               
                                                    

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides daily updates:

 

http://www.mofa.go.jp/

 

And you can subscribe to these emails at:

https://www3.mofa.go.jp/mail/add.html

 

Foreign assistance: 

 

As of 11:30 on Friday, April 15, 2011, Japan has received offers of assistance from the 136 countries and region and 39 international organizations.

 



 
Donations to the American Red Cross

 


In the U.S., the American Red Cross continues to accept donations for Japan, and transfer such donations to the Japanese Red Cross Society. When contacting the American Red Cross by telephone, please mention your intention to donate to the victims in Japan. Should you prefer, you can donate directly at the American Red Cross website by clicking on the "Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami" section.

Japan-America Society of NH
Box 1226
Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03856