Japan Discovers its Youth

The earthquake left Japan in crisis, no doubt. But with the unity and cooperation among its young people after the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country last March, Japan’s future seems to be in honest hands.

Having no time to waste, Japanese people aged 20 and 30 immediately accessed the Internet and social networking Web sites to launch projects to help the victims.

The time: March 11 afternoon. The event: A huge earthquake jolts Japan, completely paralyzing railroad network and transportation across Tokyo. Thousands of people could not get home – many of them are old people, schoolchildren and residents of Tokyo suburbs. And nowhere was left to go.

Those people faced very tough options: To wait until transportation networks work again – or to walk several miles in order to get home through very crowded roads – or to search for shelters to spend their night.

But they were not left behind. They were not alone. 

When push comes to shove, the Japanese nation believes that where there’s a will, there’s a way. With that high in mind, a small group of software programmers immediately posted a detailed map of Tokyo in the Internet, using the social networking Website Twitter to get it accessed by as many Japanese as possible.

They asked people to offer information about places that stranded people can go and spend the night.

In just a few hours, Internet visitors tweeted, filling in the map with the temporary places of residence, offering a lot of information about their locations and how people can get there.

By mid-night, the number of people who logged on that site and saw the map reached more than 180,000 Japanese, who found it very useful and, accordingly, they did not spend the night in the open air under the cold weather.

Large Japanese corporations were not absent from the scene. Several young CEOs were in the front line of those who launched relief programs in the tsunami-stricken areas.

Mr. Tamihetu Takshima, 36, CEO of a family corporation specialized in recycling logistics, launched a project he called “from heart to heart”, distributing all what people need in the tsunami-hit areas.

Mr. Daisuki, 30, CEO of Chiryū Beverages Company, coordinated with local automobiles companies and other corporations to help him distribute nearly 150,000 bottles of Lifeguard energy drink for free to people in need.

Moreover, many social networks launched initiatives to raise money to be used in helping tsunami victims.

On March 12, Japanese social network GREE launched the new service “GREE Volunteer” on cell phones, where users can buy avatars through GREE special currency. GREE then donated the returns of that service to the earthquake victims.

This was not the end of the story. On March 20, the number of GREE network customers who donated for victims reached 885,000. They donated some 174 million yens ($2.1 million).

Older generations in Japan used to accuse younger ones of weakness and introversion. But young Japanese are weak because they spend a lot and introvert because they like to live and work in Japan. However, they excellently proved they really are able to face crises, no matter how critical, and to build Japan’s new future.