Prayers for Japan


Japan is reeling from extreme devastation. Friday’s massive earthquake, the biggest in Japan’s recorded history, and the powerful tsunami that it triggered has caused unprecedented destruction to many parts of the country.

The death toll has already crossed 2,800. And it is expected to get much higher – in Miyagi prefecture alone the number of deaths is expected to exceed 10,000. To make matters worse, three nuclear reactors at Fukushima have failed threatening a full-blown nuclear meltdown.

Japan has faced major disasters before. The Kanto earthquake of 1923 killed more than 100,000 people. And the Kobe earthquake in 1995 killed more than 6,000 people and left 300,000 homeless. The Japanese – famous for their perseverance, resilience and stoicism – recovered from these disasters. They also prevailed through the ravages of World War II.

There’s no doubt that Japan will rise yet again. But each day seems to bring even more dramatic pictures of destruction, and yet more bad news.

Governments from around the world have come forward to help out with disaster relief. So far 69 governments and 5 international institutions have made offers of assistance.

Bhutan is not among them. We should be. And not just to have our name included in the list. Instead, we should offer whatever help we can because we mean it. And because, we’ve been receiving Japanese assistance for more than 45 years. Agriculture, communication, roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, governance – assistance from Japan, currently the second largest donor after India, has touched almost every aspect of our development.

We won’t be able to make a significant offer. But that should not stop us. Our offer of assistance, though relatively small, will be meaningful. It will be a token of our support to the Japanese people. And a symbol of our gratitude for their unwavering friendship.

In the meantime, I join the people of Bhutan in offering our deepest condolences to the Japanese people. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them during this very difficult period.



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  1. oh my god! Trying to gain political mileage even at somebody’s sorrow and misery! Government has offered butter lamps and prayers, and that is the only thing we can do…It doesn’t make sense to offer few bucks just to get in that name list of contributor…Japan is rich country and they can cope up..isn’t offering lamps not a token of friendship and concern?

  2. It is so shocking for our Japanese friends and the pain is equally shared by our Bhutanese fellowman as well, right from the kings to the man in the tiny villages where they have known on this. We are recently provided from japan with so many machineries excluding the similar aids in the past decades. Those are provided for the welfare our Bhutanese people and to pull them above poverty.

    Now in return, what do we have, to show our sympathy and condolence them beyond our border at this point of time besides offering our prayers and lighting butter lamps for those victims. Various aids and rescue teams are in force and place from many parts of the country. Our innocent public are helpless though they have the equal share of grievances and pains. Our government must be planing i suppose to offer some aids financially though small, but if they dont, due to unavailability of fund, i have no comments.

    But can we the civil servants, politicians big business companies, corporate employes if possible, donate certain percentage of our salary from the month of March, 2010 and offer them on behalf of our kings, people and government of Bhutan. My humble suggestion is that, we (civil servants)were recently given 20% allowances and those amounts cane be deducted from every one in the civil servants and and equal percentage can be decided from our politicians and those who are still in the civil servants and also some autonomous heads, who were not given the 20% raise. Am sure, the amount collected will never be huge for Japan to rescue problem but as a Buddhist, we have the saying as ” METO CHUNG RU, CHOE PAEY ZAEE”. Good wishes with some amount of physical offering will make them more touched as the victims. This is purely my one man suggestion and i dont ruled out anything on anyones behalf. Let the soul of those victims who lost their life in the tsunami rest in peace…!!!

    I finally wish and pray hard to happen something at our own individual initiatives to show a return gratitude and solidarity on behalf of our public, king and the government of Bhutan.

  3. dawzor,

    I will not highlight the predicament of the victims of the earth quake, the tsunami, and the nuclear meltdown. Nor am I going to delve into the statistics on death toll, unaccounted for, and homeless. Nor will I iterate the reasons as to why we should extend a helping hand.

    But let me share with you that even students both at home and abroad are raising funds to help victims rebuild lives. Literally the victims need everything from a piece of clothing to a cup of water to a word of courage at this point in time. Any human will understand it in a disaster of this magnitude.

    It is very insensitive, inhuman, and anti-humanitarian of you to say Japan is a rich country, thus it deserves no help whatever. Any rich country is not without poor citizens.

    I am disgusted to the core with this party branding. This is one reason I’ve lately refrained from commenting on OL’s post although I was doing it merely as a citizen of this country. I don’t know what political mileage you are referring to. Certainly Japanese people don’t have a vote or say in our election. Our government can undoubtedly do something beyond butter lamps and prayers. I wanted to say something but let me park it for now. I strongly feel we should do something for various reasons…

  4. is good and i am happy that govt offered condolence on behalf of Bhutanese people.

  5. i have sympathy and prayer to the victims but it may not be practical to contribute monetarily considering our economy and may not make much impact as we may not be able to contribute substantially.

  6. Dear Sonam_T,

    No doubt, every rich country at the time of such disaster needs help beyound our good wishes in the hearts. But can we stop taking into granted that govt have the money to act on behalf of us. Govt may have or may not have and govt may do or may not do that. If the govt doesnt do it, should we again blame govt? To me, our king and the govt have done their part and if they have some more to do, lets leave it upto them.

    But, we individual as a human being have the fundamental duty to help any victims at this kind of times. For this matter, can we start collecting few coins from every one of us instead of leaving and dictating to the government for everything? Lets make some amount and handed over soon….is my suggestion.

  7. I agree that we should join the many countries and Government of the world and offer aid to the victims of the recent earthquake in Japan. Its not about how much we contribute but about the thought that we care about what happened.
    I think as a tradition lighting butter lamps is a good gesture and I am sure that the Government of Japan appreciates it. but what they need is beyond butter lamp and I believe there should be a way to raise funds for victims here in Bhutan.

    I join the OL and the people of Bhutan and offer deepest condolences to the Government and People of Japan. I pray that this nightmare will end soon…very very soon…

  8. Traaala,

    I don’t think there is a qualifying benchmark to offer assistance. We may offer anything within our means. Share whatever little we have. I don’t think being generous is against the principles and values of Buddhism.

    I’ve neither taken the government for granted nor blamed it for anything. I am simply expressing my personal opinion like everyone in here. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    I like the idea of making individual contribution. I am for it. And next time around when we receive donations we immediately distribute among the citizens. Fair deal, right?

  9. First of all I too would like to offer my hearfelt condolences to all our Japanese friends, everyone of whom must have been badly affected by these terrible turn of events. While we know how resilent the Japanese have been in their entire history whenever they were confronted with adversity, it is safe to say that the trauma they have suffered from the earthquake and the terrible tsunami that ensued will take a long time to heal.

    As for us Bhutanese, let us not get too sentimental. I believe whatever the government has done is enough. My personal belief is that the Japanese are a very proud people and hence will be very reluctant to accept aid from every country that offers it. As of now Japan has accepted aid from only 15 countries out of the 102 that have offered it. So lets not put them in an awkward position by offering them aid which they know we can ill afford to provide.

  10. I think the least we can do at this time is to keep quite and stop conjecturing on others role else we must first fulfill our roles.

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