Japan will be OK, Save Your Sympathies for Other Causes

Dont get my wrong, i love Japan. Some of my best friends lives in Japan. and I am worry about friends who lives in the hardest hit regions, Sendai, i have yet to hear from. But Japan will be OK. They, to my knowledge, is the most capable of dealing with this kind of disaster in the world. The word “Tsunami” even originates from Japan. The latest report from Japan indicates 800 plus deaths and 784 missing. A tragedy, no less, but dwarfs in comparison to the 781,000 people that dies from Malaria each year, majority of which are young children. Death from Malaria is specially sad because it is preventable with only USD 3billion dollars per year. Aid to Malaria is one of the most cost effective way to have a positive impact, according to the Nobel Laureates from the Copenhagen Consensus. If sympathy for young children who dies from preventable diseases is not your thing, and earthquake is, then check Haiti. From Wikipedia:

As of July 2010, as much as 98% of the rubble from the quake remained uncleared. An estimated 26 million cubic yards (20 million cubic meters) remained making most of the capital impassable,[232] and thousands of bodies remained in the rubble. The number of people in relief camps of tents and tarps since the quake was 1.6 million, and almost no transitional housing had been built. Most of the camps had no electricity, running water, or sewage disposal, and the tents were beginning to fall apart.

Why is Haiti still in such state of despair? Part of the reason is that they were an underdeveloped, politically unstable country even before the earthquake hit in January 2010, they simply dont have the resources and institution to deal with this kind of disaster. The other part of the reason is, again wikipedia:

On the 12 January 2011 anniversary of the earthquake, Haitian-born Michaëlle Jean, who served as the Governor General of Canada at the time of the disaster and who was installed as Special Envoy for Haiti for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 8 November 2010, voiced her anger at the slow rate of aid delivery, placing much of the blame on the international community for abandonning its commitments. In a public letter co-authored with Irina Bokova, the head of UNESCO, Jean said, “As time passes, what began as a natural disaster is becoming a disgraceful reflection on the international community.”

So please, direct your sympathies and charitable acts to the truly weak.


8 thoughts on “Japan will be OK, Save Your Sympathies for Other Causes


  2. Wow. Yes certainly there are many other tragedies and disasters in this world and there will be numerous more to come but that doesn’t mean that just because a country is an expert in a particular field of disaster that they do not need help. It was not just the earthquake or hundreds of aftershocks or the tsunami that they have to deal with but the potential risk for being exposed to radiation as well and what other catastrophes and risks that are yet to come. Yes I agree that these other countries that have experienced disasters truly need help and sympathy but who is to say that one cannot have sympathy for a country going through devastating times who may be better off financially. It is the PEOPLE you need to think of in all cases. We are all one deep down no matter our financial situation or the country we reside in. You are entitled to your opinion and as am I but who is to say to what extent people should have sympathy for a nation that is experiencing extremely difficult times?

    • Frankly, i agree with you for the most part.

      If one wants to help others, just help, its better than philosophizing over who to help, and end up procrastinating.

      But if one want to maximise human life save with the limited political will, sympathy, and resource available, one would have to make some calculations and comparisons. Which is exactly what Copenhagen Consensus Organization does, it calculate how best to help the most amount of people. and Malaria is recommenced by them as one of the causes that will lead to most life saved per dollar spent.

      Even though the full extent of the damage cause by the earthquake is not yet realized, We know there is at least 2,000 confirm deaths. Compare to malaria, daily death toll is about 2,193. Malaria kills mostly children in extremely pool countries, where they have little means to deal with it. Malaria also receive very little attention from the world community. Again compare to Japan, one of the richest and most developed countries in the world, and the focus of worlds attention and sympathy.

      You may think its a false dichotomy and yes, while some recourse that can be use to help japan but not other causes, nuclear disaster response, for example. But most resources held by a person, organization or government can usually be used to help either the earthquake or other causes.

      And yeah, you can sympathise with whomever you want, and maybe i should have title the piece as “Cry for Japan, but donate to poor Malaria kids who no one cares about”

  3. Those that cannot help themselves, even when natural disasters don’t strike them, don’t deserve help nor sympathy. And they need to learn that by themselves

  4. Dude, is not japan the country i meant that can’t help themselves. Japan definitely can. Is other countries that are perennially in humanitarian crisis.

    Japan definitely deserves our compassion and help, because they can help themselves most of the time, and right now deserve our help.

    japan will be ok without our help but will be better with our help. And i donated 100$ to the red cross because i care them to get better.

    • We can discuss about why Haiti wasn’t ready for the earthquake, but that would eventually lead to the historical factors that let to their political instability and economic underdevelopment, which i am not familiar with.

      What i do know is that if one care about human life, indiscriminately, one would spend their dollars to save the maximum amount of life possible. Right now, it isn’t Japan, its the causes listed in Copenhagen Consensus’s guide to giving: http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/Default.aspx?ID=1437

      Try this. Imagine what your $10 can buy a Japanese that he couldn’t buy him/her self. Then know that $10 can buy two Mosquito nets that will save at least 2 Sub-Saharan African kids from malaria death. (http://www.projectmosquitonet.org/).

      Your money, your call.

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