Thursday, April 14, 2011

Warnings from Ancestors

School of Business students have approached me to help start a Toastmasters Club. I have agreed but I told them they must take the lead in getting the approvals from the University authorities first. It is also my goal to have a dedicated Toastmasters Club for Sunway University – after all, Monash University, Taylor’s University, HELP University College, UniRazak, Multimedia University, Universiti Malaya and others have already established Toastmasters Clubs, so it is time we have one too.

When the earthquake struck northern Japan last month, and a tsunami followed after it – thousands perished, save for the inhabitants of one hamlet of Aneyoshi, Iwate Prefecture where a single centuries-old tablet saved the day (left).

'High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants,' the stone slab reads. 'Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis.

Do not build any homes below this point.' It was advice the residents of Aneyoshi heeded, and their homes emerged unscathed from a devastating disaster that flattened low-lying communities elsewhere.

Hundreds of such markers dot the coastline, some more than 600 years old. Collectively they form a crude warning system for Japan, whose long coasts along major fault lines have made it a repeated target of earthquakes and tsunamis over the centuries. Yet, many of the Japanese had forgotten these warnings, or worse, chose to ignore them.

Japan had announced that it will cost as much as 25 trillion yen ($309 billion; £189 billion) to rebuild the country after the deadly earthquake and tsunami. The cost is about 6% of Japan's total economic output in 2010 and is the biggest estimate so far (Webpage, posted March 23, 2011).

And according to the World Bank, Japan will need up to five years to rebuild and recover from the damage caused.

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