"Could Japan handle the China earthquake better?"

As with any disaster, it is easy for commentators to criticize the authorities’ reaction to events. And as with any ‘China issue、’ it is easy for Japanese media to take a superior stance.

Already media reports in Japan regarding the China earthquake are moving towards the critical approach regarding the government’s emergency response. Reports from other countries such as the UK’s Channel Four news details how “In contrast to Burma, the authorities are moving everything they can to bring rescue to the Sichuan province,” and the US’ CNN news report that China now, unlike its reaction to the SARS outbreak in 2002, are being “very open about it, which I think is maybe showing signs that lessons have been learned.”

Predictably, Japan’s morning “news” programs, such as “Zoom In! Asa!,” featured “experts” commenting on the Chinese governments approach to aid. Referring to China not requesting aid from the US (although they have accepted a US$500,000 contribution for relief efforts that will be given to the International Red Cross), propaganda –esque comments such as “China are acting like Myanmar Junta” were thrown around live on air. These “experts” then went on to “inform” the public that “What China needs to do is what Japan did during the 1995 Hanshin earthquake” and “Japan managed to get air relief for hard to reach areas, China needs to do that.” However, despite criticizing China’s “inferior” emergency response, the program failed to mention how Japan faced many problems with less than adequate rescue efforts and poor infrastructure during the Kobe earthquake.

Although it is fair to hold governments to account, it would be hard to imagine that the commentators would react in the same way if this disaster had occurred in, say, the US. Looking at other past incidents to see what could be done better is fine, but to gloss over the huge problems that the Kobe people faced, inadvertently concealing the authorities incompetence, seems to do injustice to not only the people of Kobe, but also to the Chinese aid relief groups who would do better with advice on both things to do and things not to do, rather than just being told that “Japan can always do it better.”

Nihon TV:
http://www.ntv.co.jp/

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/05/13/china.quake/index.html

Kobe earthquake:
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=41C8...

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