A foreigner staying in Japan for the past few years provides some perspective on the Japan earthquake:

Many of our clients are in the general vicinity of Tokyo. When Nagoya (again, same island but very far away) started shaking during the earthquake, here’s what happened:

T-0 seconds: Oh dear, we’re shaking.

T+5 seconds: Where was that earthquake?

T+15 seconds: The government reports that we just had a magnitude 8.8 earthquake off the coast of East Japan. Which clients of ours are implicated?

T+30 seconds: Two or three engineers in the office start saying “I’m the senior engineer responsible for X, Y, and Z universities.”

T+45 seconds: “I am unable to reach X University’s emergency contact on the phone. Retrying.” (Phones were inundated virtually instantly.)

T+60 seconds: “I am unable to reach X University’s emergency contact on the phone. I am declaring an emergency for X University. I am now going to follow the X University Emergency Checklist.”

T+90 seconds: “I have activated emergency systems for X University remotely. Confirm activation of emergency systems.”

T+95 seconds: (second most senior engineer) “I confirm activation of emergency systems for X University.”

T+120 seconds: (manager of group) ”Confirming emergency system activations, sound off: X University.” ”Systems activated.” ”Confirmed systems activated.” ”Y University.” ”Systems activated.” ”Confirmed systems activated.”

The piece makes for a fascinating read. As humans, we are evolved enough to prepare well for disasters but most countries don’t have either the means or the will to do so. As Hurricane Katrina showed, even countries like United States don’t have good systems in place. Let’s not even discuss India.

Recent articles that provide an inside perspective of Japan and the Japanese people are effusive in praise of their culture and philosophies. Reading about it makes me proud of them as fellow humans. They still need help and the nuclear threat still looms — but just imagine for a moment what another country would have experienced in their situation.

Link via Raghu.