Wednesday, March 16, 2011
LETTER FROM TOKYO
Departing from the usual Doc40 fun format, the following are some lengthy quotes from our good friend Yukiko-san in Tokyo which I present in the hope that it will bring a different perspective from much of the nonsense coming out of the TV.
“I have a niece, a biologist working in an academic district called Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture, which is located just south of Fukushima Prefecture and the nuclear plant stands. Her husband is also a biologist working at the same pharmaceutical company as his wife. Hearing the very first news about the damage of the atomic plant, the two scientists decided to evacuate from the city, jumped in the car, and headed for Tokyo since they were "unable to believe TEPCO (the operator of the plant) and the government that no radiation leak had been detected".
Our normally calm correspondent flashes angrily at the mendacity of bureaucrats.
”To make this picture grimmer, watching the Q&A on TV between the press and NISA (Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency), which is supposed to be "the regulatory body for safety of nuclear energy and industrial activities" (from their website), I could perfectly understand the frustration of the press. Usually, my evaluation of the Japanese press is very poor and I've never liked those press guys, but this time only, I totally understood their irritation toward NISA: It was simply mind-boggling seeing HOW INCAPABLE AND STUPID BUREAUCRATIC SHIT THESE PEOPLE ARE and I was just dumbstruck with the fact that the safety of the nuclear power control in this country is on the hands of these MORONS, one of whom didn't even know the accurate count on the measured data.
”Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures have a serious electricity shortage, so TEPCO has rolled out a massive blackout program that includes suspension of a good part of the major train/subway lines in greater Tokyo, already causing significant confusion at every station this morning for. The electricity shutdown is supposed to continue for another few months, dividing the city into areas to be blacked out in turn, but nobody including TEPCO can tell for sure in well advance whether the power cut because the necessity depends on the actual demand/supply balance at a given time. People have already begun to take many measures to save electricity so that power can be directed to hospitals and generators for the patients who live on artificial respirators at home.
”People began to rush to supermarkets to stock water, food, etc. and the store shelves are rapidly going empty although I saw no panic at least in my area. And all the above is happening along with the constant aftershocks, which we've been feeling all day and night".
Yukiko has also translated a blogpost by a Japanese business woman, who happened to be in the Ibaraki Prefecture when the earthquake hit.
”I stayed at the station for about four hours until the sun set, when one of the train staff came out and began to announce, "No train will be operated today. The government has just advised us to recommend that you give up going home today and look for a place to stay tonight". The only people who were left at the station were those like myself who were unfamiliar with the area and had no place to stay overnight. It was too cold and windy to stay outdoors, so I asked a station attendant the direction toward hotels and began to walk. Fortunately, the first hotel I passed allowed me to stay in the lobby for free because the rooms were already full.
”Late at night, many employees of the hotel began to set up a table to provide us with food, a rice ball and hot miso soup. I was so grateful to the hotel staff and equally amazed by the refugees who were extremely calm. Mobile phones didn't work at all, so I stood in a queue for the phone in the lobby. At 3:00AM, I could finally tell my family that I was safe. As I hung up, the coin I had inserted came back - NTT (the biggest telephone company in Japan) had already made all phone calls free in the area.
”Japan is really a miracle. Under such a catastrophe, nothing like that happens. When the hotel was distributing food in the lobby to the obviously hungry refugees, some rice balls remained after everyone got the first round, but nobody would walk up there to get the second, probably for others who may come in later. The extensive queue where I stood to take the emergency bus service to the nearby station, everyone was very calm. Somewhere along the way, the queue split spontaneously into two lines; one was for those who wanted to get a seat even if waiting for the next bus, and the other was for the people who wanted to go back as soon as possible even if it meant standing.
”We really should be proud. In the past 24 hours, I saw nobody that was angry, shouting, or complaining in the wake of this unprecedented disaster. The only exception was a drunken dude who was challenging a station employee at Ueno. This country is really a miracle, and I sincerely hope other miracles will happen at this most difficult time.
Posted by Mick at 3/16/2011 07:54:00 AM