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To Our Japanese Friends

Last night and into this morning, the homeowners in many parts of the New York metropolitan area were worried about the inches of rain that battered homes, and many — in the suburbs and the City — braced themselves for flooded basements and worse.

It is cold comfort if a few of my neighbors are dealing with a flooded basement today or this weekend, but after watching the pictures and video from the horrific earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, I can bet all of us in the Northeast consider ourselves lucky.

TWICE has plenty of industry friends and colleagues of Japanese decent, both here and back in the home country, and we certainly hope and pray that everyone is safe and sound.

In covering this industry, I have been lucky enough to visit Japan since the early 1990s several times — to Tokyo, to Osaka, Kyoto and several prefectures the names of which I could never spell or pronounce, to visit one factory or another.

The advantage about going to Japan — or Korea or China for that matter — and visiting with the executives and engineers who have developed so many of the CE products that built this industry is that you get to know the culture and the people, and the way they think.

Whether it was Sharp, which first took a group of U.S. media to Osaka to discuss LCD back in the 1990s; or Sony, which took us over to discuss DVD; or Panasonic, which have had regular trips for the press over the years to visit the CEATEC show and see developments in plasma TV, Blu-ray, SD cards and the like, I’ve learned first-hand as to why Japanese manufacturers have developed, marketed and exported technology so effectively over the years.

And whether I have traveled on a bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka and marveling in its speed and efficiency, to watching Japanese baseball on TV and kind of understanding what’s going on, to visiting its shrines, sampling (and liking) its foods, and, most importantly speaking with its people and closely listening to what they say and how they answer your questions, I’ve gotten a real education and an appreciation for Japanese culture, its people and their work ethic.

I’ve always been treated wonderfully in Japan, whether or not my airline lost my luggage for a day (it happened once), had to endure me as I struggled with jet lag (that’s happened more than once), or had to run off to meet a deadline and avoid some tour or two of something my hosts really wanted me to see.

In recent years the Japanese people have had a tough go of it, in terms of a stagnant economy, and now they have to deal with challenges in the next few days, weeks and months that are going to be massive in the wake of this tragedy.

But I am sure, as are many of you reading this are sure, that the Japanese people will meet these new challenges, overcome them, and will continue to survive and thrive.

Speaking for TWICE, our thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people during the dark time.