Time to be a good neighbor

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Time to be a good neighbor

Another huge wave of compassion is sweeping across Korea to help Japan recover from the massive earthquake and tsunami as soon as possible. After watching horrendous scenes on television, Korean netizens voluntarily launched a fund-raising campaign to help the victims. Religious communities, civil groups and the news media are taking the lead in collecting donations or relief supplies. Some even plan to send rescuers to help Japan get through its disaster.

The quake’s damage goes beyond description. In Miyagi Prefecture alone, about 2,000 bodies were found yesterday, with the total number of casualties expected to reach tens of thousands eventually. More than 310,000 victims have taken refuge in public shelters, and about 24,000 more are desperately waiting for a helping hand, totally isolated from the outside world. About 46,000 houses and office buildings were already destroyed or damaged. The six halted nuclear reactors will cause blackouts to households for the first time since World War II.

The government is of the position that it will do everything it can to help Japan recover from the catastrophe. It dispatched an advance team with two rescue dogs earlier than any other country, respecting the Japanese government’s request. Its emergency rescue team, consisting of 102 staff, arrived in Japan yesterday. President Lee Myung-bak, on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, promised Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan that he will do the utmost to provide the support Japan needs. Even Korean pop stars are rolling up their sleeves to join the humanitarian work, a tribute to their Japanese fans.

The government should try to find the best possible form of aid through close consultations with Japan. Companies who do business with Japanese counterparts should also do their part. A Japanese oil refinery, for example, reportedly asked a Korean company to purchase petroleum it can no longer store. We hope the Korean company will consider accepting the request. Perhaps the government can determine if there’s anything we can do to help Japan secure the electric power its people need.

Japan is our closest neighbor. When it faces an unprecedented disaster, we must help it. That’s what a genuine neighbor does. Even the comfort women say it’s not the time to blame Japan for what it did during the war. If you turn your face away from a neighbor’s pain due to an old grudge, you become a slave of history. The devastating quake is testing our humanity and our progress in becoming a mature country.
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