On 9/11, the Animal Rescue League got into Ground Zero faster than Human Services. “They had a plan,” Robert Butler pointed out at the 2008 Age Boom Academy. “How many states practice their nursing home evacuation plans?” The highly safety-conscious Japanese do practice their drills, but it didn’t spare the lives of many elderly residents of tsunami-ravaged Shintona. It’s harder for the old to outrun the ocean, as evidenced by “the intimate belongings now scattered in the muddy streets – 12-inch vinyl albums of Enka (Japanese blues) classics, a walking stick and tatami mats,” writes a journalist in the Guardian today.
Where Japan differs strikingly from the U.S. is in its attitude. “There are many old people here. We have evacuation drills, but people could not get to the meeting place in time. We must reflect on our shortcomings,” said Jiro Saito, the head of the local disaster countermeasures committee. Japan is proud of having the world’s longest life expectancy, and tries hard to meet the needs of its oldest citizens.