Watching live over TV the tragic aftermath of the earthquake and tsunamis that hit Japan recently smitten me to see how impassive and dignified the Japanese people are in times of tragedy and tribulations.There was no chaos, no unruliness, no looting and hardly anyone showing state of despair even in the face of such forlorn landscape of brutal destruction.
It's heart-rending and my heart goes out to them.
Even in such great devastation and desperation the Japanese people have been very cool, calm and collected and accepted their fates with quiet dignity.A cultural trait not seen in many other Asian societies.
I remember seeing a footage of the great flood in Pakistan last year and saw how unruly and indiscipline the Pakistanis were when foods were distributed to victims of the flood and the same can be said of Africa and other parts of Asia.
It brought me back to the eighties when I visited Japan quite frequently on business and had good taste of the unique Japanese culture some what different from other parts of Asia.A contemporary hybrid culture that mixes the influences of Asia,Europe and North America.The traditional and the contemporary.
The Japanese are known for perfecting what they copied not only in technology but in social etiquette as well.A fusion culture that have made the Japanese probably the most discipline people on this planet.
Punctuality, which is more peculiar to the West and not your garden-variety in most of Asia is the exception in Japan.The Japanese are now better timekeeper than even the Westerners and frown upon those who are late.Of the many appointments I had with my Japanese clients not in any instance as far as I can remember any of them have been late.They usually called my room at least 15 minutes before the appointed time announcing their presence in the hotel lobby.
For those who have visited Japan they would also have noticed most Japanese would not cross the road if the light is red even if there were no cars, which baffled me on my first visit to Japan, wondering what was wrong with them.
What was wrong?....... it's not with them, it was me, a typical Malaysian alien to a culture of discipline.I soon learn to be like them but only in Japan and reverted to the Malaysian bad habits as soon as I got home.
Tokyo, or any of the big city have little or no street crimes then.I can walk the streets late at night without worrying about being mugged.
In Japan if you forgetfully left your thing any place there is hundred percent chance you'll get it back. I remember once I left my overcoat on a train from Tokyo to Niigata and only remembered hours later.I could not believe that I would ever get it back.Surprisingly, I did, from the Niigata train station.How they knew I disembarked at Niigata is still a mystery to me.
Throughout history Japan has been isolated in one way or another.For hundred of years under the Tokugawa shogunate it kept its doors close to foreigners until abolished by the Meiji restoration period.
The tragic earthquake, tsunamis and a potential radiation fallout from broken reactors will have far-reaching economic repercussions for Japan but with the diligent and positive attitude of the Japanese people it will not be a bridge too far to cross.
Let us hope and pray for the well being of Japan and its people.