Please don't #prayforjapan

This post isn't about not caring or not thinking about Japan and the Japanese in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. It's about not tweeting the #prayforjapan tag. The Japanese are calling it either 東北地方太平洋沖地震 or 東日本大震災. As much as I prefer not mangling names of things across cultures, romaji translations of either of those would make unwieldily tags. The western media have been calling it the Sendai Quake and that seems reasonable. How about tagging with #SendaiQuake? Better still, Noriyuki Shikata is using #hope4japan, which kind of settles it for me.

As far as the praying goes, I have two thoughts. First  of all, I always question the motives of anyone who prays in public. If you really do care about the ongoing tragedy in Japan, then by all means do something to help them. If you want to feel righteous and charitable, try doing something tangible like, say, donating money. Secondly, the vast majority of Japanese are atheists. I've never met an atheist who wasn't at least a little annoyed at being "prayed for".