There's a god for that
In contrast to the coverage provided by foreign news agencies, the Japanese media refrain from speculative commentary: the number of casualties is reported precisely as counted by government officials, with no one presuming to inflate numbers towards their inevitable magnitude. Injuries are counted using official hospital records, and deaths are counted only when officials have confirmed the death and relatives have been notified. Moreover, the unaccounted for, and those presumed to have been washed out to sea, are tallied separately as “missing” – and this is only partly a euphemism, because some of the unaccounted for may yet be rescued. So the count of the dead, the injured and the missing – as reported by the Japanese media – remains low during these first few days.
Some towns have been so completely devastated that all, or nearly all, government is lost: fire departments, police kōban and town halls destroyed; fire fighters, policemen, council members and mayors among the toll. Without a functioning government, and with so much attention going to the survivors, casualty counts will be delayed.
In an impassioned address to the nation, the prime minister, with a voice of bushidō, lays out the key facts of what is now a triple tragedy – earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis – portraying the calamities as the greatest since 1945, and admonishing people to put aside comfort and entitlement, and to pick up the burdens of privation and hard work. “This is a country that has endured for centuries,” he reminds us, and its citizens must prepare for hardship in the coming days, because “This is Japan. We are Japanese. We will endure.”
Later, the national government urges its citizens to carry on and not to allow the tragedy to paralyze the nation: everyone must do his part, even if that part means going back to the daily routine.
Now, with these fresh edicts having been proclaimed, the somewhat tenuous normalcy that we’ve felt the last few days becomes more earnest: life, on this side of the country at least, is forced into its familiar rhythm.