"Keizoku wa chikara nari" is an old Japanese saying that roughly translates to "perseverance is strength."
With help from the rest of the world, Japan will need to embrace that proverb to recover from an earthquake and tsunami disaster that is staggering in its enormity, made more frightful by releases of radioactivity from nuclear power plants.
North America is no stranger to natural catastrophes in which human negligence contributed to the extent of the damage. The Haiti earthquake of early 2010 – in which more than 200,000 died, partly because of poorly built buildings – and the failure of levees during Hurricane Katrina are examples.
Yet as horrific as those disasters were, the scope of what's happening in Japan has yet to be fully realized and could have far more impact on the world's economy and California's. In 2009, Japan was second to China as a shipper of goods to the Golden State, sending over $33 billion worth of imports. Japan, meanwhile, was the third-leading recepient of goods from California, purchasing nearly $11 billion of our exports in 2009.
That means California has more than just a casual interest in how Japan copes with this crisis and attempts to recover. California's cultural ties to Japan are as strong as its economic links. For humanitarian reasons alone, the state and its people must do all they can to help this friendly Pacific Rim neighbor.
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