Sunday, 2 October 2011

Summer of 2011 - radiation (1)

The typhoon season has started and the summer recedes a little further with each down pour of rain. The 6pm chime that rings out around the neighbourhood to remind children to go home is now chiming in the darkness, and soon will begin ringing at 5pm for the winter.  Along with electricity and power savings, the summer   of 2011 has been characterized by fear and uncertainty.  With the approach of autumn the energy crisis is waning, JR will resume ordinary train schedules soon, the "setsuden" power saving measures are also winding down.  The matter of radiation however is a problem that is not going away.   

It's a difficult topic to write about, high stress and easily emotive and I have waxed and waned about writing about it for the past few months.  I don't  have an agenda on the matter,  though for transparency I should say Hiro is involved in subsidy payments to beef farmers in Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate and Tochigi prefectures who have been affected by radiation. It probably doesn't alter my perspective though it may heighten consciousness about / empathy for their situation.

After the quake,many people who didn't flee Tokyo and surrounds took smug comfort in not being "flyjin" (a pejorative for foreigners who escaped the threat of nuclear catastrophe).  Foreigners slunk back to Tokyo attempting to justify to the smug why they left in the first place. Both sets took comfort in being 200km from Fukushima - even if we rejected the Japanese govt's 30km exclusion zone, the US 80km was still somewhere up in Ibaragi - far from Tokyoites.  Assurances from the UK nuclear experts that there was no possible way that it could be worse than Chernobyl comforted the doubters.  People took comfort in the fact that food was being tested and the commonsensical rationale that radioactive discharges into the water would be dispersed, the way that the British dumping of radioactive waste water in the Irish Sea dispersed, though I don’t recall British dumping into the Irish Sea ever making it into the news. No wonder the British government was so eager to stand beside the Japanese govt. and TEPCO…

The cover of the New Yorker magazine that co-incided with the cherry blossom season.

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