Since the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake on 11th March 2011, I have visited the tsunami-afflicted areas twice.
Once I was drove a hired car from the Sendai station myself. I was unable to leave the vehicle, haunted by what I saw. I did not have any connections to make myself useful for the people in need. I could merely witness, feeling inexplicably and deeply guilty, unable to make sense of what was happening and what had happened.
On the second occasion, I visited a temporary school for junior high students who lost their houses by the tsunami. They were all up and going, smiles on their faces. The headmaster told me that despite their optimistic outlooks they have experienced worse than nightmares. On the night they escaped into the mountains, many elderly people passed away. It was a cold night. Some had fled just wearing t-shirts. And yet, on the day that I went, their faces were all smiles and forward looking.
I have been spending many hours thinking what I could do. The destruction caused by the tsunami is beyond belief. Miles, literally miles of habitats washed away. Entire communities lost forever.
I don't know how it is, but the only way I can seek atonement is by changing. To make this nation, which has been stagnant for a couple of decades now, go in a new direction. To reinvent myself, so that I am more open, more linked, more outgoing.
And there is deep anger at the stagnation of Japan in general. I know the connection is illogical. The indignation at the inability of the nation to change has nothing to do with the brutal physical force in the shape of tsunami. But the anger is there. It has to change.