Japan's Resilience: Recipe for Recovery

By Gene Cubbison
|  Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011  |  Updated 3:45 PM PDT
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Shock, Sadness and a Tiny Sense of Guilt

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Shock, Sadness and a Tiny Sense of Guilt

Some exchange students from Japan were really looking forward to studying in San Diego -- until the earthquake hit. Just two days after the 9.0 quake, they left for the U.S. on a trip they had long planned for - prodded by their parents. Now, these young people are encouraged to focus on their studies, not on what their families are going through back home.
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San Diego's Japanese-American community is mobilizing efforts to support the disaster relief and recovery efforts in their native country.

  They're part of a culture that for centuries has endured -- and overcome -- hardships.
 
Leaders of an organization that links San Diego and Yokohama, but embraces all of Japan, acknowledge that restoration and healing may take many years.
 
However, despite sadness and alarm over the situation there, they have faith that Japan will rebound from its setbacks -- stronger and sooner that might be imagined right now.
 
"I think of their long history with patience, and they make such an effort," said Kaneko Bishop, president of the San Diego-Yokohama Sister City Society.  "Even after World War Two. They never have forgotten what Americans have given us to start, and what we've become."
 
The Sister City Society was organized in the mid-1950s, and is signified by a large Japanese Friendship Bell gazebo near the entrance to San Diego's harbor.
 
The society's members can't help but marvel at how orderly Japan remains in catastrophic circumstances.
 
"Even after a disaster," said Thelma Press, "they have courtesy with one another."
 
That was just the message a Japanese-American citizen living in Tokyo conveyed in emails to NBC San Diego's Marianne Kushi.
 
"The morality of the Japanese society is amazing," Kushi's friend wrote.  "Not one mention or incident of looting or violence. Everyone lines up. Wait your turn to enter the store. Store employees are extremely courteous and kind."
 
In a letter to his sister-city counterpart in Yohohama, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders praised the "legacy of courage" among the disaster's survivors.
 
The city of San Diego, as a municipal government, really isn't in a position to offer financial assistance to its friends in Japan. 
 
But in terms of 'psychic capital' -- sympathy, caring, friendship could go a long way.
 
"They have a great caring for one another, and they have a great pride in relationships with the rest of the world," said Press.  "So the rest of the world coming to their assistance has great meaning for them."
 
Prayers and the powers of a highly educated society figure to keep Japan in good stead through the hard times ahead.
 
"Our loyalty to Japan and America is equal," Bishop noted. "And I do wish the Japanese people will stand on their feet soon and recover from this disaster."
 
The Sister Cities Society is organizing outreaches for disaster relief donations, with a focus on Japanese-owned companies.
 
The Yokohama chapter of the society helped raise thousands of dollars for San Diegans during the wildfires of 2003 and 2007.

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