In dealing with the after-effects of the earthquake and tsunami, Japan has had help from international rescue teams, nuclear experts and the U.S. military.
But the bulk of the response to the calamity has come from the Japanese themselves.
Up and down the tsunami-damaged coast, members of the Japanese Self Defense Forces are at work. Their dull green Army vehicles race along the highways, military backhoes clear roads of rubble, and troops are even running makeshift morgues where people can come and try to identify the dead.
President Barack Obama will make his case for U.S. involvement in Libya to an anxious public Monday night, while officials offered assurances that military action there does not set a precedent for how the U.S. will handle similar uprisings throughout the Middle East.
Despite controversy and protests, Maine Gov. Paul LePage went through with his order to remove a 36-foot mural from the building of the Department of Labor. The mural depicts events in the state's labor history, from the first time unionists were allowed to vote anonymously to a 1973 strike that sought better working conditions for women.
When the bombs started dropping on Libya nine days ago, President Obama was in Brazil on a trade mission. He took time out from talking to business executives to announce that military action had begun.
"Make no mistake," the president said. "Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world."
Last summer, as the Gulf oil spill was finally being brought under control, I found myself thinking about Hollywood disaster movies — and how they differ from real-world disasters. In the last few weeks, as tragic events have played out in Japan, I realized I'd left something out: the menace that can't be seen.