Japan Deserves the Earthquake & Tsunami

Yes, that is really what some people are saying. They are saying Japan deserves the 8.9 (recently upgraded to 9.0) magnitude earthquake and subsequent 7.1 aftershocks stronger than the not-so-distant Haiti earthquake and subsequent tsunamis. As I write this the death toll stands at approximately 1,800 and is expected to rise above 10,000.

Fire on water - Japan earthquake and tsunami

So many reasons have been brought up, from karma for their attack on Pearl Harbour, to their apparent “refining” (as one 5fm radio caller put it) of ancient torture techniques. Apparently this is why the Japanese should not be glorified.

But no one is talking about glorifying them. Their collective society, in my eyes, has always been superior in so ma ny ways to the Western ideal of an individualistic society. Look at how kind so many Japanese people have been towards their fellow quake survivors in these translated tweets from Japan. This isn’t glorification, just a simple acknowledgment that some aspects of their society are more admirable than aspects of our and that they deserve our support and respect during this very difficult time in their history.

Every nation has a negative history. If these tragic natural disasters had struck South Africa how would you, if you are a South African, like it if people from other nations generalised and said that we deserve it because we’re all racists who legalised racism and supported Apartheid? This is simply not the truth. The majority of South Africans are, as I’m sure the majority of the Japanese are, everyday people who do not deserve to be punished for the atrocities a few long-dead elite are guilty for. That is irrational and cruel thinking, and also shows the person accusing the country of this as blindly in denial of their country’s own starkly obvious flaws.

Another reason which has been given, which is so beyond condemnation it does not even merit discussion, is the idea that God (I’m assuming this can only refer to the bigoted Judeo-Christian God) is punishing the Japanese for being predominantly Shinto and Buddhist, or punishing them for whaling (because somehow the jump from destroying just the handful of whalers to wiping out entire innocent families is a rational one to make, although if the Christian Bible is true then it’s certainly not out of character for God).

The natural disasters have natural explanations. The Japanese have been preparing for this expected earthquake since 1923. Earthquakes are caused by the shifting of plate tectonics, not by sadistic divine intervention.

Conspiracy theorists have been crawling out of the woodwork in the last week, and as usual science tends to get the brunt of it. North America has a science program called the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP. Its purpose is to analyse the ionosphere and investigate the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for radio communications and surveillance purposes. Improvements in these fields could have massive implications for a wide variety of activities, from missile detection to satellite communication. Scientists are interested in the basic natural processes that occur in the ionosphere under the natural but much stronger influence of solar interaction, as well as how the natural ionosphere affects radio signals. HAARP prides itself on openness and public accessibility. Instrumentation includes the Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI) and operation involves pulsing high-frequency radio signals into the upper atmosphere.

What conspiracy theorists who know little about meteorology and geology postulate is that HAARP can cause seismic activity and is being used as a weapon of war to destroy the Japanese. Skeptic computer scientist David Naiditch called HAARP “a magnet for conspiracy theorists.” The project has been blamed for triggering floods, droughts, hurricanes, thunderstorms, and devastating earthquakes in Pakistan and the Philippines aimed to frighten terrorists. It’s really unfortunate that the popularity of conspiracy theories often overshadows the benefits science may provide to a community.

Amidst this outcry of science denialism and unscientific superstition is the pseudoscientific idea that a so-called supermoon is responsible for the natural disasters. Although NASA scientists admit a vague kernel of truth within the astrological claim, they specifically state that there is no connection between the Japan earthquake and the moon. In fact, at the time of the tremor, the moon was actually closer to the furthest point from Earth of its orbit than to the position it will be in on March 19th.

“A lot of studies have been done on this kind of thing by USGS scientists and others,” John Bellini, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey, told Life’s Little Mysteries. “They haven’t found anything significant at all.”

Other conspiracy theories have centered around a more numerological interpretation, with people drawing links between the Gregorian calendar dates, which simply counts the years from the traditionally accepted incarnation of Jesus, and the dates of some cataclysmic events in recent years. 9/11, the Haiti earthquake on 11 Jan 2010, and the Japan earthquake on 11 March 2011. The fact that the Haiti earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010 and not on the 11th seems of little concern.

Numerology is the study of the occult meanings of numbers and their influence on human life. Since there are no occult meanings to numbers and since numbers by themselves can have no significant influence on anyone’s life, numerology is nothing but superstition masquerading as science or art.

A conversation on Reddit (sourced from Martin S Pribble, who discusses this same topic) goes into more detail regarding this, quoting Luke 21:10-11.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

This Bible verse was followed by this rebuttal:

There is a 1/30(or 28/29, 30) chance that a event will happen on the 11th, pretty decent chances when you think about it. If ALL tragedies followed the same pattern I would be interested, but:

  • Hati (was actually the 12th)
  • Chile (27)
  • Christchurch (22)
  • Kashmir (8)
  • Shaanxi (23)
  • Boxing Day Tsunami (26)
  • Titanic (15)
  • Deep Water Horizon (20)
  • Katrina (29)

The world is constantly in turmoil. There is nothing new about that. Social media and access to technology makes more people draw connections between the events, something which wasn’t possible in the past. None of the above claims have any solid evidence to back them up and are all based on apocalyptic, paranoid thinking.

Help Japan

Japan in no way deserves what has happened to them. It is simply geographically unfortunate that this has happened to such a densely populated region, and no matter how fervently we believe in a just world it does not change the reality of the situation.

For live tweets and live blog updates from Japan, I recommend following TimeOutTokyo. Do what research you can to find local aid organisations to donate to and offer your services in any way you can.

For moving, upsetting, and informative high-def images of the crisis look at these unbelievable Big Picture photosets:


Japan earthquake japanese earthquake earthquakes in Japan pictures of Japanese earthquake tsunami in Japan japanese tsunami and earthquake in japan natural disaster pictures photos images japan earthquake

13 thoughts on “Japan Deserves the Earthquake & Tsunami

  1. I cannot agree more with your statement Kelly, you are not alone.

    In this day and age I find it so hard to understand why so many ignorant people exist.

    In many processes that involve teaching, coaching and general education the onus is on those who have more knowledge or positional influence to spot the opportunities where learning and education can take place. Wouldn’t it be great if our ‘leaders’ approached subjects such as these in the same way you have in your article?

    To reach out to another in harm or trouble is the epitomy of being human, in some respects one of our greatest traits.

    These bozo’s chose to let the opportunity pass and would rather focus on the traits that collectively we are not proud of and frown upon.

    Those who comment about ‘payback for Pearl Harbour’, those who criticise nations for the acts of a few and condemn them to some form of ethereal punishment deserve no less themselves.

    They have lost their humanity.

    I pity them.

    I love your topics, I love your approach.

    Thank you for this post, you have an amazing gift.

  2. Thanks for your kind comment, Basil. I appreciate it as always.

    When I read things like this (the accusation, not your comment) I am always reminded of the last paragraph from an article Hitchens wrote for Slate regarding the Judaic practice of metzitzah b’peh:

    Jewish babies exposed to herpes in New York, thousands of American children injured for life after the rape and torture they suffered at the hands of a compliant Catholic priesthood, prelates and mullahs outbidding each other in denial of AIDS … it’s not just your mental health that is challenged by faith. Anyone who says that this evil deserves legal protection is exactly as guilty as the filthy old men who delight in inflicting it. What a pity that there is no hell.

  3. I could never understand what would make a Moyel perform that rite.

    I recently purchased a hard copy of ‘god is not great’ and will begin reading it again (not sure how many times, everytime I read his books I get a new piece of knowledge or skill)

    My favourite Einstein quote on the subject is:

    He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.

    I think this applies to those as well.

    1. That’s brilliant, I’ve never heard that quote before. I really like it.

      God is not Great is an excellent but very dense book. I have the paperback and I feel I only properly understood it on the second read. You have to get hold of the audio book, narrated by Hitchens himself, as well if possible. It’s an exhilarating listen that highlights some of the nuances in the text.

    Pearl Harbor? LOL! Torture techniques? LOL! You guys got to be kidding me. Japan already ate 2 atomic bombs for their attack on Pearl Harbor. Why do Americans always think they’re the center of the universe? Don’t make me laugh. Do you know why Japan is being devastated right now? I’ll tell you why. Because they’re a CRUEL and PERVERTED people who are DOLPHINS Molesters. Just watch The Cove documentary and be amaze for yourself. As for Karma, Pearl Harbor is nothing compared to the lives lost in Asia due to Japanese aggression in WW2. Over 20 millions Chinese people plus millions more from surrounding countries total over 40 million lives lost which to this day Japan still have not atone for. The atrocities of the Nazi’s pale in comparison. If you study Eastern History, you’ll understand. God is teaching them the meaning of “Mercy”..

    1. The only reason I approved your comment is so that all of my readers can see how deranged you are. It’s as though you did not even read my post.

      It’s people like you who sicken and disgust me. You are as irrational and bigoted as the scriptural version of the god you so fervently worship.
      For your information, the above post was written by a South African, not an American. I have watched The Cove and I understand “Eastern History”, just as I understand the history of other nations, and amidst all of that I still see no just cause to wipe out an entire nation. But then again it is so ridiculously easy for a mere mortal to be morally superior to the psychotic deities worshiped in today’s religious societies that it’s hardly worth mentioning anymore. I hope that if you keep following those archaic, sordid moralities someone institutionalises you.

      1. ok.. chinese and koreans being sympathetic to Japan is like a Jew sympathizing Germans who worships and idolize nazi’s action during the WWII. Seriously, you don’t know how much shit is going on in japanese media right now, spreading false rumors and being racist to neighbouring countries. You wouldn’t know because these shitty news aren’t reaching your media. It’s ridiculous how they say “We don’t need your sympathy” to South Korea when they sent them donation. In my point of view, kelltrill, you’re being ignorant, because you have no idea how much racist shits the neighbouring countries have to deal with. hundreds of video claiming that Koreans are animals and they deserve to die. It’s not that i don’t want to be sympathetic. If the japanese weren’t being a bitch and spread shits to other contries, then id actually felt sorry for them. Japan don’t deserve a tsunami. But over 10,000 people who signed up on the protest called “Josenjing(racist word towards korea, like nigger) should leave Japan),bloody well deserves it.

      2. Hi there Dan

        Thank you for your comment.

        I acknowledge your anger at the Japanese because of their political affiliations and arguably abhorrent motivations and actions, both past and present, by certain groups. However, the purpose of my article was simply to discredit the conspiracy theories and superstitious reasoning people attributed to this particular natural event. It was not to delve into their political or cultural history, neither of which I claimed to have superior knowledge on.

        As I’m currently writing this, the population of Japan is reportedly 127,450,459 people. Not all of these individuals are guilty of the crimes you rightfully call out. I am encouraging people not to generalise an entire nation because of the crimes of a minority. Perhaps the 10,000 of whom you speak do deserve punishment, but that is despite the point I attempt to raise in this post, which is that the earthquake did not single out people. It affected thousands of innocents, and to attribute a supernatural explanation to this event as some sort of exalted religious justice is sordid.

        Thank you for taking your time to comment. I will do some research on the “Josenjing” protest you mentioned.


  5. Tetsuro.

    I am finding it very difficult to hold back the comments that I have for you.

    In fact I would have become like you if I had made those comments, but I make use of my brain and i think that you could if you tried, so here is my attempt at reaching out to you…

    You seem to have a problem with Japanese people because of some atrocities that happened to some chinese ancestors of yours…?

    I sympathise with you… I really do. Manynations in the world have suffered huge atrocities at the hands of a few who command many. Take any period in history and you will find the same story but the actors change. The spanish inquisition alone murdered 30 000 people (not before they tortured them first, some of the worst things you can imagine and most that even you could never imagine).

    Sh1t happens in life my friend, it’s not always roses and sunshine, you can change the things that you are able to, the rest you have to learn to let go of or face becoming worse because of them (as I fear is the case with you).

    I was always in favour of the death penalty in this country, until I asked myself if I was able to deliver the death, flip the switch, inject the death cocktail or whatever it meant.

    My answer changed rapidly because I am unable to.
    Anyone who can say that they are willing to kill another human being or be happy at another human beings death is either lying or not normal… which one are you?

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