Home / Culture and Society / Tokyo Governor Deems Disaster Divine Punishment; Then Apologizes

Tokyo Governor Deems Disaster Divine Punishment; Then Apologizes

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

The government of Japan is a constitutional monarchy, with a democratic parliament in two houses, the Upper House, the Lower House. At this time sovereignty is no longer in the hands of an Emperor, but rather in the hands of the Japanese people. Japan sponsors adult suffrage and a secret ballot. A Japanese Supreme Court is the only option to change the interpretation of the laws.

The people of Japan are religious during time of funerals, and disasters, according to one expert, Brian Bocking at Cork College in Ireland. He maintains that the average Japanese Person doesn’t turn to Buddhism until there is a funeral. The people of Japan are not all of a single tradition; they don’t ordinarily study religious texts. But, Bocking says, during funerals, and  times of stress and crisis, Japanese religious engagement becomes far more intense. Another expert, John Nelson at the University of San Francisco agrees and goes further. The Japanese people he explains will move between two or more religious traditions; but in time of tragedy or suffering, it’s Buddhism. There are many schools of Buddhism, many schools of belief in suffering and the afterlife.

Bocking at Cork College feels that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are concerned about the causes of disaster. Why does the Creator allow an earthquake? Is it the sign of an Apocalypse? But the experts agree that the Buddhists, the Japanese in this instance, are taught to be concerned about maintaining a positive attitude as a response to disaster; the people of Japan in agreement with their religious beliefs,  may turn to seeking a calm, peaceful and harmonious outlook, as they work with their neighbors to clean-up and rebuild.

Although there is a blending of religious traditions, even extending to Western traditions, burial in Japan is most often done according to Buddhist custom; cremation, then internment with family members in a family plot. Many Japanese keep altars in their homes to revere and pay tribute to passed ancestors.

On Monday, March 14, the Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara made a statement that the earthquake and resultant tsunami which  killed as many as 15,000 persons and injured many thousands more was “divine punishment for egoism, and populism.” On Tuesday, the following day, he apologized for the remark. His early words translated to English were, “I think the disaster is divine punishment, although I feel sorry for the disaster victims.” The word for divine punishment in the Japanese language is “tembatsu.” Governor Ishihara told Kyodo News in his opinion the politics of Japan are tainted with egoism, and populism. He said the people should use the tsunami to eliminate egoism, which has “rusted onto the mentality of the Japanese over a long period of time.”

Populism simply stated is a political philosophy that sees the will of the people opposed to the will of “the elite.” It favors the political ideals and needs of ordinary people, regardless of class distinctions and political partisanship.

Those interested in the Japanese Populism may refer to a publication from Japan called “Practical Populism.” The current content of that publication tells its readers that, regarding the disasters, mainstream news sources downplayed the danger. The article goes on to urge North Americans on the West Coast to consider relocating, at least temporarily. “Radioactive winds are expected to hit North America tonight.”

Powered by

About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • Cannonshop

    Ruvy, Correlation doesn’t mean causation. An examination of the geological record would show you that there are all sort of fun, mad things that go on randomly-including major events. I doubt seriously that the Dinosaurs, for instance, were even capable of doing something offensive to your god’s Plan (much less his morality!)
    Yet Chixixlub happened anyway. Just as climate changes, so too, the supposedly “Solid” ground beneath our feet is more akin to the skin on a pot of cocoa, than it is to a block of brick.
    What happened in Japan was inevitable, not because of some offended invisible friend in the sky, but because the tectonic plates upon which everything including Japan has been built, are in motion, moving against and on top of one another. IT’s not god, it’s gravity and inertia, it hasn’t a bloody thing to do with some pending apocalypse, it’s the simple mechanics of the Earth, which gives less of a shit what anyone does than anyone is willing to accept.

  • Baronius

    Ruvy, it’s not that I fail to believe in G-d, or in His power. I just don’t believe in *you*.

    You and I read the prophecies of the days before the coming of the Messiah in a similar way. Repent, everyone! Get yourselves right with G-d! But, Ruvy, if you’re failing to turn people to a holy life, it might not just be our fault. The fact is that a lot of us have the impression that you get off on the cries of doom, and that makes your message less credible.

    I suspect that a similar situation happened with the Westboro Baptists. It led to the current state, where both they and the world feel satisfied by the world rejecting them. Yes, the world feels better because of it, and so do Phelps and his gang. But does it bring anyone closer to G-d? If your message is failing because of, let’s say, (1) people’s lack of belief in G-d, (2) people’s feeling that you’re hateful, and (3) people’s impression that you’ve made lots of failed predictions, and if you’re genuinely interested in the success of your message, you should try to eliminate the barriers to your success that are under your control.

  • And praise to Ruvy for demonstrating so eloquently why faithists are so dangerous…

  • John Lake

    Praise on zingzang.

  • zingzing

    before that, it was the dinosaurs, their pea-sized brains too inadequate to fathom the goodness of god, doomed by a meteorite he sent from the far reaches beyond mars to punish them for their ignorance. the dinosaur priests had spoken throughout the periods of the coming retribution, but did they listen? oh no, they did not. they just went about eat their leafy greens and each other and all the while, the meteor was coming at them more quickly than they could imagine. and they burned in fire and darkness for their crimes.

  • zingzing

    actually, doc, it goes all the way back to pompeii’s destruction at the hands of the roman gods, as the people of pompeii were so perverse as to depict sexual acts and use vulgar latin to graffiti the walls. mount vesuvius warned them for many years that the gods were angry, but did they listen to these rumblings? oh no, they did not. after almost two decades of persistent warnings, the gods were so fed up that they unleashed the full terror of the mountain upon the people, who had been too busy carving big penises to pay attention. and they burned in fire for their crimes.

  • DD, It might have begun with Katrina, the bird flu, the swine flue and Deepwater Horizon, and this might be the next stage. I’m no prophet, but they all seem to be markers on a road to disaster. Just because the huge followup (i.e. cliff in the road) doesn’t happen tomorrow doesn’t mean that we’re not on the road to disaster. There is “more to come” as Ed McMann used to say.

  • zingzing

    actually, you seemed to have missed the reference. and it’s pretty easy to explain.

  • Apparently, whatever is happening (and it appears that something is happening) is beginning with Japan.

    I thought it had begun with Katrina.

    Or with the bird flu.

    Or with H1N1.

    Or with Deepwater Horizon.


  • you can’t explain that.

    I can take guesses, but you’re right, zing. I can’t explain it all. But at least I can ask, which seems to be what the governor of Tokyo did. A damned shame he had the same amount of spine most politicians have – none. He might have gotten his constituents thinking instead of feeling sorry for themselves, which is what they are doing now.

  • John Lake

    I note that you gentlemen are spanning a few pieces here; interestingly, one in culture, one in politics.
    This gives me a chance to expand: The law of order, cause and effect, goes beyond “a law that G-d created.” It is an absolute reflection of Himself; a major attribute!
    I meant no condescension with the remark about Freudian psychology, Freud I believe was himself a Jew. Please have a joyous Purim, the both of you.

  • Big Johnny, do you really think that Japan is the only “potato on the plate?” The rules of physics apply to the entire universe. Apparently, whatever is happening (and it appears that something is happening) is beginning with Japan. Why, I cannot tell you. When G-d stops by for a beer or a cup of coffee, I’ll interview Him and see if He is willing to explain all this. In the meantime, I can only look and wonder in fear.

    Dr. Dreadful, I try to follow the commandments of the Torah. I’m not “orthodox”. If I were, I wouldn’t be on this site at all; it’s too damned pornographic for a Jew following “orthodox” rules of modesty. I certainly wouldn’t write “shit, “fuck” and all those other terms indicating “mastery of the English language”. Finally, don’t make assumptions of a person’s beliefs from a mere photo.

    Recommend philosophy, (especially Ockham’s Razor) to Roger Nowosielsky – who could really use a shave – philosophically speaking, that is.

  • While he explained to me that G-d continues to send signs and wonders in the hope that we will repent and recognize His sovereignty over the universe

    Then why doesn’t he just say so, instead of muck about doing things that can be explained perfectly well without his intervention?

    Last photo I saw of you, Ruvy, you weren’t all that Orthodox. May I refer you to a certain Mr Occam, who does a nice line in razors?

  • John Lake

    Really Ruvi, you seem to have contradicted yourself. When you say “the Creator created the laws..” or as I might say, “created within the laws (that he had created)” you are stating very basic and pragmatic philosophy. A school of thought that we can depend on to sustain us for life.
    Then you make a statement more in concert with those with divergent interests, and uncertain positions. You say the laws are aimed at Japan. “The Creator created the laws to operate in a certain way..” then, “to lead to the possible destruction of .. Japan”. Even G-d is uncertain in that one! You may be speculating, or as we say in the West, projecting your belief in a way consistent with your predetermined view.

  • zingzing

    you can’t explain that.

  • never attribute to divine intervention that which can be adequately explained by plate tectonics and demography.


    I was near MaHané Yehudá (the big “market” in western J-lem) today, and ran into a friend who runs a charity. One of the things his charity is doing is sending a basket of Purim gifts to the Fogel orphans in Itamár, the ones who lost their parents and three of their siblings in an Arab terror attack last Sabbath.

    While he explained to me that G-d continues to send signs and wonders in the hope that we will repent and recognize His sovereignty over the universe so that He need not bring about the War of Gog and Magog and all the other disasters foretold in the Bible in order to bring about messianic Redemption, I stared at this mishloáH manót for the Fogel orphans, wishing I had the money to do stuff like that. But I also thought about the kinds of comments I read here.

    Like from Doctor D, from Baronius, from Maddy Rain. I repeated to him the story of Elijah going to Mount Sinai and hiding out there, disgusted by what regarded as a his failure to convince the people in the Northern Tribes to believe in G-d. Elijah told G-d, “I failed You. Maybe You should find another people to redeem…” He didn’t say exactly that but that is the essence of what he was telling G-d when G-d asked him, “what are you doing here?”

    I told my friend, that this was how I felt, citing people like you. There will be no mass repentance or recognition of G-d’s sovereignty. You will continue to doubt and scoff – and all the hellish prophecies of the Bible will come true.

    And I wished him a Happy Purim and a good Sabbath and caught a bus to the Central Bus Station, so I could go home to Ma’alé Levoná. And now I wish you all a Happy Purim and a good Sabbath.

    The real story on Japan is to be found in a short paragraph from the USGS. I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up. It ain’t long.

    There have been hundreds of aftershocks following the devastating magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck off the East Coast of Japan on March 11. More than two dozen are greater than magnitude 6, the size of the earthquake that severely damaged Christchurch, NZ last month.

    In simple English, the plate tectonics are behaving in such a way as to lead to a massive destruction of lots of Japan. You might want to go beyond your comfort zones and ask yourselves why this is happening. The WHY is the question that leads you to comprehend that the Creator of the universe created the laws to operate in a certain way – and they are operating in such a way as to do more than merely kill thousands; they are operating is such a way as to lead to the possible destruction of a chain of mountains called Japan.


  • To paraphrase: never attribute to divine intervention that which can be adequately explained by plate tectonics and demography.

  • Baronius

    Ruvy, on one level, yes, human beings deserve punishment because we all partake in the sin of Adam. But as for labeling a particular event divine punishment, isn’t that presumptuous? The prophets would only say such a thing if inspired by G-d do to so, and oftentimes they’d say so before it happened. And they’d always (as far as I recall) be right. To look at destruction after the fact and call it divine punishment, especially after having predicted so many disasters that didn’t happen, seems ghoulish.

  • Boeke


    “An important note: Baronius points out that comments are down, site-wide. Someone made the same observation last week. Comments are indeed down, but readership is way up.”

    In the last few days about 3 comments I submitted disappeared. One time the whole thread disappeared, and I couldn’t find it again (IIRC, it was about getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes).

    Now I just consider it a lucky chance if my comment shows up, and I don’t expect it.

  • Maddy Rain

    divine punishment? was there anime in Chile or Haiti? following a religion as a way to practice your life sounds great but projecting mystical mumbo jumbo on the way the planet works is rather naive and childlike. just sayin’…

  • John Lake

    An important note: Baronius points out that comments are down, site-wide. Someone made the same observation last week. Comments are indeed down, but readership is way up. Although the time in my area is a little after one in the afternoon, I see I have about 500 reads. That comes to very roughly, one every 45 seconds. And afternoons are faster.

  • I (and others) may get radiation poisoning from all of this – or not. Other major earthquakes may shake and destroy Japan (or other places) – or not. Hundreds of thousands of people may die in this disaster – or not. Pablo may see fit to write about the evil brew that is fueling these nuclear plants – or not.

    But nobody at this not so bubbly site has seen fit to look at the possibility that we are seeing Divine Punishment here – except me. I suppose I should go take my meds – but I did already. Now go re-read my first comment here and think about it. While you are at it, Google up “anime”, “Japan” and “porn” and see what comes your way.

    Just sayin’….

  • Pablo has been urged to “add his biological and technological distinctiveness” to the BC collective several times, Costello, but apparently prefers to maintain his individuality…


  • Costello

    Pablo, why not write that story up rather than bury it in the comments?

  • Baronius

    Pablo, for one thing, this site hasn’t exactly been jumping lately, about any topic. But more to the point, I have no idea what to say about Japan. The tragedy is awful. They desperately need international aid, which they’re starting to receive, but they don’t suffer the kind of deep poverty of a Haiti or Indonesia. If there’s something to do other than pray for them, I haven’t figured out what it is.

  • John Lake

    Available sources say that the “Emperor”, or “Mikado” of Japan, the “heavenly sovereign” is the Japanese head of State and the head of the Japanese Imperial Family. He is the highest authority of the Shinto religion. The Emperor, under the Japanese constitution is the symbol of state and of unity with the people. He is a ceremonial figurehead in a constitutional monarchy. The current Emperor, Akihito in a rare appearance expressed concern for survivors of last Friday’s 9-magnitude quake and tsunami, and particularly for those workers putting themselves in harm’s way to negate the danger at the Japanese nuclear plants.

  • pablo


    Glenn Contrarian the global warmer monger liberal that loves Ronald Reagan. I recall quite distinctly Glenn your absolute love of nuclear power. Such warm pals……….nuclear power and global warming mongering. Thats all folks.

  • pablo

    I am truly amazed. This is the biggest story in the entire world right now, having major implications of political, environmental, economic and global horror, and yet this is only the second minor article written about this in the Blog Critic’s political section.

    So I thought I would be the first to give you some information that I am quite sure most if not all of you psuedo political pundits are unaware of.

    The number 3 reactor at the Daiichi complex in Fukushima Japan is not fueled the way that most reactors in the world are today. The dishonest slimeball MSM has chosen not to divulge for the most part this most pertinent piece of information.

    The reactor is fueled by not uranium but a deadly nuclear cocktail composed of weapons grade plutonium and uranium known in the industry as MOX.

    Plutonium is the most deadly substance on the planet, and the fact that the MSM has chosen not to divulge this trivial piece of information on the sheople reveals for all to see just how sleazy and dishonest they really are. Take a deep breath folks.

  • The one intelligent comment from any politician on what has happened in Japan – and he didn’t have the balls to stand by his words!

    The earthquakes and tsunami have been Divine Punishment and only when people start to cotton onto this will they even get a clue as to what is going on and why.