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In Perilous Times Like These We Need to Keep the Flame of International Solidarity Alive More Then Ever

@20110316 HAYASHI Tatsuo@* President of Africa Japan Forum
* Professor, Kinugasa Research Organization, Ritsumeikan University
From November to December 2009

last update:20100325
(I am writing this letter to all of you in reply to the request made to me at today's forum. And I would also like to ask you all to send us messages you may receive from Africa, encouraging Japan in its current loss.)

In Perilous Times Like These We Need to Keep the Flame of International Solidarity Alive More Then Ever

President of Africa Japan Forum, Hayashi Tatsuo
[Original Japanese: http://www.ajf.gr.jp/lang_ja/message/20110316.html ]

One week is about to pass since the disaster that severely hit Tohoku district and other neighboring regions of Japan, but it will take much more time until we clearly see the whole extend of the damage. Due to rolling blackouts, the city of Tokyo is covered with unusual darkness, while the trains are running on a thinned-out schedule. It being so cold here in Tokyo, one can scarcely imagine the piercing weather people are now enduring in the areas in the North-East stricken by the disaster. And one cannot stop worrying about the safety of those who are most fragile - the newborns and the elderly.

I have worked as a volunteer in Kobe after the devastating earthquake that hit that city, and I know from my own experience that although the first three days are the most dangerous and truly critical for people's survival, at the same time this period is marked with a strong emotional uplift for those alive. The true hardships begin later. And it is that later stage when solidarity and encouragement make a real difference, sinking deep into the hearts of the survivors. I have doubts about whether I and other volunteers, who came to Kobe after the earthquake, were of much practical help for the victims, but I am confident that our presence was a tremendous encouragement for them.

And today the whole world is sending its encouragement to "Japan", as they see the scale of the current tragedy. Not only the developed countries, but also small nations such as East Timor and Djibouti are offering their support. Even the city of Kandahar in the country of Afghanistan torn apart by civil war is trying to support our stricken "Japan." Many messages of solidarity are coming to the members of our forum from Africa. And it is even said that soccer players shall participate in the games wearing mourning bands.

But let us remind ourselves that at the same time as many as one billion people are starving in this world, that two million people pass away of AIDS every year. The number of poor people existing right next to us is truly unimaginable. And though it seems astonishing, people of these regions are also sending messages of encouragement and solidarity to our stricken land, are reaching out to us, willing to send us money. What are we to do? Firstly, we should deliver the world's message of encouragement to the victims of disaster. And, secondly, to strengthen the ties of solidarity further, continually offering our support not only to the victims in Japan, but also to the poor of this world, to those living day by day on the verge of death. If not, we may easily err on the side of concentrating too much on the relief to Japanese victims of the disaster. And that surely would not be enough to repay the world for its solidarity. Although there will be very many victims in Japan, there are billions suffering in the world. And although we definitely need to encourage Japanese people who suffered from the disaster, at the same time we need to make sure that we are not selfish, that our attention is distributed equally among all those in need.

There are words of mutual aid in all parts of Africa, starting with the Zulu word eubuntuf. And I would like us all to get through this crisis with this word firmly planted in our hearts.

[Reference website]
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan March 16, 2011 "Offer of Assistance from Foreign Countries and Regions (Tohoku district- off the Pacific Ocean Earthquake): update"

The Great East Japan Earthquake at arsvi.com

UP: 20110323@REV: 20110326
Translated by Yura Okamoto