After Earthquake, Japan on Shaky Ground
Saturday, January 01, 2005
Over the last few days, the United States received harsh criticism for not giving enough money for Earthquake and Tsunami relief. Some went as far as to compare what the US was giving to the pledges of other countries and call the US downright stingy. With the announcement by Bush that the US government was going to up its pledge to $350 million dollars, hopes were that this bizarre and macabre bidding war would cease.
Japan and the US have been going back and forth since the beginning of this disaster.
Enter Japan. Japan and the United States have been going back and forth since the beginning of this disaster. First the US pledged $15 million. Then Japan pledged $30 million dollars. In retribution, the US raised their amount to $35 million. The US felt cornered. Britain came in with $96 million, Sweden achieved $80 million and China managed to scrape up $60 million.
While Bush appeared cool and brushed aside accusations of the US being stingy, his inner fear was beginning to show. Afraid that that US would fall behind on looking sympathetic to the plight of Asians, they went for a coup de grace and pledged $350 million dollars to the disaster relief. Bush also announced that the US flag would fly at half mast for five days.
Japan is back into the fray. They have now pledged half a billion dollars worth of aid.
But now, Japan is back into the fray. They have now pledged half a billion dollars worth of aid. But Japan’s aid has been criticized in the past. Many times, the Japanese government will give foreign aid on the condition that the money is spent on Japanese goods and services. This is similar to the reason for a breakdown of relations with China earlier in the month. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign ministry said, “Japan's aid to China is not unilateral benefaction.” Speculation now exists on exactly what the United States will do in retaliation to Japan’s obvious affront to the US. Will Japan be kicked out of the US aid coalition? Or will the US simply up the ante once again? Just how far can we afford to go to show our benevolence? Collin Powell suggested that the US would once again raise its pledge. "I'm not sure 350 [million dollars] is the end number. It's the number that we've settled on for now," Powell said, saying he wanted to avoid a situation where "each day everybody was trying to play 'Can you top this?'"
France came out strong pledging an initial $57 million. However, most analysts believe they are out of the competition with the stakes this high.
It has been theorized that France may offer as much as $100 million more, on the condition that the money is spent on French products. The grants are not likely to be well received as there is limited need for Champagne, Fromage, and Foie Gras in the wake of disaster.
i know, 'Rapturous passion? Who talks like that?' but, i could justify him accounting the events in such a way. the previous chapters identify him as a writer and a bit of an a-social type. in fact, his personality is modeled on a 'friend' of mine who would have spent even more words saying the same thing...
thanks for dropping in. i hope to see you again.