Japanese Quake, Hurricane Katrina Chatter Not Warranted PDF Print E-mail
By Jessieca Gafford -- Black College Wire   

Japan was rocked by an earthquake, a tsunami and nuclear reactor explosions. Together, these three events have caused grief to well up in us all.

It has moved Americans to donate and help the relief, but it has also sparked some comments that raise eyebrows.

In some communities, and even in the media, there are those who chose to compare Japan's situation to the 2005 Gulf Coast natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina. People are also wondering Why would Japan,an independent nation that has a stable government and economy, need the help of America?

The Gramblinite
Jessieca Gafford
The question arises because the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies happens to be Tadateru Konoe. He was the head of the Japanese Red Cross Society, and in his position as head of all Red Cross Societies, Konoe has had many disasters to deal with.

Not only has he dealt with Japan's recent problems but also disasters in Haiti, problems in the Middle East, and in war-torn African countries. He is more than capable of dealing with disaster relief. Americans have always had bleeding hearts when it comes to foreign countries and their plights.

Now comes the unfortunate comparison of Japan's disaster to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

The amount of media coverage that was given to this hurricane was the same as any other, but the problem was blown to the level of an international disaster. The hurricane victims were constantly called "refugees" even though they are American citizens.

Unlike Japan, relief from the American government was slow to come and when it finally arrived, for some, it was too late. The Federal Emergency Management Agency took too long to provide funds, supplies and temporary homes to those affected.

Another difference is that the damage in Japan is much greater than that in New Orleans. And the disaster has a greater global effect because of Japan's position in the global community.

It is currently the foremost in the technology and automobile industries. Japan is also a major manufacturer of parts used for American products.

But New Orleans is only one city in the U.S. The city itself depends largely on the tourism industry to support the economy.

So far the two happenings do not even belong in the same sentence.

Japan has had three major disasters in a week - an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. The latter being the most devastating because of the long-lasting health effects to the citizens of Japan. They could experience deformities in their children and different forms of cancer in the years to come.

Katrina's effects are still being felt because of the mental state of those who survived, as well as their financial state. Some parts of the city are still under reconstruction, but the process has begun.

There was also a social dynamic that made Katrina seem worse - the racial disparity between those who were left behind and those who were able to flee. Japan does not have this problem because the country as a whole was affected.

Although both were major losses, a comparison of this nature cannot and should not be made. These events are completely different in nature, therefore should not be put in the same category.

Jessieca Gafford writes for The Gramblinite, the Grambling State University student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Posted Mar. 23, 2011
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