China Power

A Short US Break

Another strong earthquake in Japan is a reminder of the challenges back home as The Diplomat editor starts a trip to the US.

I’m travelling in the United States at the moment, so won’t be updating as often as usual. Mu and Jiang will still be writing though, and there will be some guest entries coming, so business should be pretty much as usual on China Power.

This is my first time back in the US since I evacuated New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I had already planned a move to Tokyo back then, but haven’t had the chance to return to America until this visit. It’s going to be an interesting time to be back in New Orleans and to see how things have changed, especially with my current home having just been hit with its own natural disasters. If I have any thoughts or observations on the recovery from Katrina, including on any lessons there could be for north-eastern Japan as it recovers, then I hope you’ll excuse the diversion.

The long US campaign season is also slowly getting into gear ahead of next year’s presidential race, so it has already been interesting hearing what Americans have to say about the current state of the country and their president. (It hasn’t been good so far. Everyone I’ve spoken to is disillusioned and disappointed, having had their expectations raised so high when Barack Obama came to office. Many fear it’s a country in decline. Just the usual pessimism you expect to hear from anyone in any country when the issue of politics comes up? Partly, but there also seems to be an underlying sense that the US isn’t setting itself up for the future the way it should be).

But even as I travel here – New York, Pennsylvania, New Orleans and back to New York – my thoughts are again dragged back to Japan after news of another major aftershock in the Fukushima area several hours ago. The earthquake, a magnitude 7, has been followed by numerous smaller temblors. Japanese patience and extraordinary grace under pressure is being tested yet again.