Tuesday, March 15, 2011

so, who are panicking now?

As those several countries repeatedly conducted nuclear weapons testings during the Cold War, we were frequently exposed to radiation at the similar level we at this moment have in Tokyo, NHK says. I'm working at home in Tokyo and also checking the news from various sources: NHK, BBC, The Guardian, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, and so forth. Many appear to be tweeting: "We are evacuating from Tokyo." On the other hand, life seems to go on as usual for many. Someone says that the foreign media are sensationalizing this nuke problem while Japanese media are downplaying, and that makes her paranoid.

BBC reports:

0743: Livy Bell in Kojimachi, Tokyo writes: "I think the Japanese government, amongst other nations, has absolutely failed in educating the public about nuclear power. Most of the population has no idea how nuclear power plants work, what safety measures are in place, what the radiation risks are and what practical implications these risks have. If they'd bothered to inform the public ahead of time, there wouldn't be this much panic." Have Your Say

Really? Are those panicking Japanese? Are people in the other countries more educated? I don't know. What I know is that there is nothing I can do, and if things get much worse, I have to do what the experts tell us. Fingers crossed until those an anonymous Jack Bauer (we are less informed about how the workers at the plants are working, or under how dangerous conditions they are working) stabilizes that thing. The Guardian quotes:

9.25am: In the comments thread DarxFartz and dchart, both in Japan, are disputing reports that areas of the country are "panic swept" amid worries over the Fukushima Daiichi power plant:

From DarxFartz:

I'm an ex-pat living in Tokyo and reading scare-mongering stories from Reuters about "panic" are not really helping the situation. On the whole, everyone here is staying remarkably calm in a very stressful situation, and this is just irresponsible journalism.

Japan has just had a huge earthquake and tsunami with 10s of thousands missing, presumed dead, plus there is a f**cking nuclear power station on fire ! Isn't that enough drama for Reuters ?

Yes, there is "panic buying", but on the whole people are remaining calm and vigilant. The last thing Japan needs right now is media-induced hysteria.

I'd really appreciate the facts as there is lot of real emotion going on.

Every 1st grader in Japan knows nuclear power is dangerous. At middle school everyone learns what radiation is. For some people who know the history Japan experienced the atomic bombs, the fact that the nuclear power plants generate a third of electricity this country needs may sound strange. The thing, I think, is that there has been no substantial public debate over whether or not to build such many plants, and people have been at the mercy of technocrats and big companies. But I don't want to go further at this moment.

After the BP oil spill broke out, Slavoj Žižek criticized those companies and the officials, even Obama included, blaming each other, and argued the devastation was huge so it was time for rethink about the way of living fundamentally. And I think this is very much the case for this disaster we are currently facing. NHK World yesterday repeatedly said that this nuke problem was the result of nature surpassing man's best effort. Yes and no, I think. I'm not interested in a question whether EDF is better than TEPCO anyway.

TEPCO is clearly having a serious public relations problem at this moment. Even NHK is criticizing it. Though I agree that the companies and the government's policies should be questioned, I think we should think beyond that.

By the way, at this moment I don't feel to write about the earthquake itself, the tsunami, and the victims, much less making music from this devastation.

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