I know and work with a lot of people in Japan. Fortunately after a flurry of messages they’re okay if shaken (eh).
So I saw on Google, and got from a number of Japanese trade organizations whose mailing list I’m on, links to the Red Cross, etc. to give money.
Now, it’s a horrible tragedy. And I gave money after the big tsunami. So it’s not like I don’t care.
But . . . is there really a need here?
I mean, in the first instance, the very organized and prepared Japanese emergency services are on the scene. The Self-Defense forces are mobilized (may as well go all-in as they’re not really otherwise allowed to do anything on the military side). The Americans are sending lots of military support/resources. All good things. Japanese citizens are being encouraged to leave it to the professionals as far as searching for survivors. Community organizations, schools, individual houses, are being made available to displaced residents.
So is it really hard-hearted to say – nothing against the Red Cross, but what can/will they add to the scene? I don’t know the exact logistics of what they can get done on the ground in Japan (somewhat infamously, IIRC, the Japanese authorities were really insistent on self-reliance after Kobe 1995, resisting even American military help in a way that may have hindered rescues, etc. – it seems at least as to military help, they’ve learned the lesson, but will they allow/want American or international relief organizations to take a leading role?). Is there any evidence that more outside boots on the ground are needed/would not just lead to everyone stepping on each other?
I’m just getting a different feel here than for Indonesia or Haiti, where there was no hint of an organized and sophisticated local capability to respond, so flooding the region with materiel, money, and personnel was a no-brainer (not that it led to perfect results to hear tell). I just wonder whether in the world’s third largest economy which has effectively unlimited governmental resources to respond financially, and can draw on well-organized safety services manpower from unaffected areas of the country and from the U.S. military, there is really any additive role that outside financial aid could play (I mean, I guess we could use it to replenish the Japanese government budget, but that hardly seems compelling for most of us). No one’s going to go without food or clean water or shelter (or, not for any longer than they would absent my $100, once the initial disruption is worked through).
Full disclosure – I probably will send the Red Cross a little donation because, well, they do good work. But is there any argument that flooding the Red Cross with donations (other than being a Good Thing to do in general, and a symbolic show of sympatahy when we can’t do much else to help the victims) will lead to any significant acceleration of the rate at which the victims/affected region are made safe and sound, or the thoroughness of the recovery?