Not Running Away

March 31, 2011 · 12 comments

It appears I’m one of the closest foreigners to the March 11th earthquakes to talk about it and get media attention (I did an interview for BBC world news and several friends spotted me in Asia, Australia, Canada and Europe – one benefit of travelling and getting friends from around the world is they can tell you they’ve seen you when you’re on worldwide news!).

Japan is getting back on it’s feet in general, but the Sendai area is obviously still devastated. I have returned to the Fukushima area after a couple of weeks in Tokyo so I thought it’s about time I chip in and give my opinion and thoughts on the matter to the gaijin and tourists of Japan.

Japan earthquake panic

As Per Above

The Japanese government have asked tourists not to panic and carry on as usual. I believe staying in the country and visiting like normal is doing more good for the country than sending donations. The Japanese people are not exactly inspired by all the foreigners abandoning the safe areas because of a potential threat quite a while away.

Tokyo is more understandable, and likewise any of north Tohoku have been advised to leave. But Hokkaido, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Okinawa and totally safe even from the worst possible situation of a nuclear meltdown.

Scientists who have worked in Fukushima nuclear reactor advice a 20km radius of evacuation, the fuel rods inside will drop into the concrete and an explosion should rise 500M in the air (which affects the 20km zone). Compared to the ever famous Chernobyl incident, which blow 10000M in the air (that’s 10km and effects a much more wider area) the effects won’t be anything near the same if a full nuclear meltdown was too happen.

The media have hyped this up a lot, and are focusing on the nuclear thing way too much in my opinion. So far one death has occurred via an unfortunate worker in the nuclear power plant. Compared to the 10 thousand plus tragically lost from the tsunami this is minute and very controlled.

When you’re actually in the area and the media are basically telling you that you’re going to die soon it’s not helpful and worries family, causing many people to abandon the country, leave the Japanese people and their hospitality behind and lowering the morale. The worst countries reaction to this has been France, who insisted on evacuating every French person from Japan. For a nation which uses nuclear power, they are shooting themselves in the foot here and panicing other nations without thinking logically.

Cloud strife on PS3 final fantasy 7

Stay for Cloud

So my advice to foreigners in Japan is to use your brain and choose what is best for you. Don’t join in the press hysteria and hype, it’s how they sell their papers. Move to a safer area of Japan if need be, but running home, clogging up the airport and turning your back on the country that has given the world playstations, ninjas, mass production hybrid cars, anime, sushi, lean engineering, that schoolgirl uniform, Shinto, a heap of martial arts and world history with their alternate views and a whole lot more; and throwing your remaining yen in the donation box upon leaving is not helping. Defying the media’s hype and spin (who now realising its safe have lost interest and picking up on the next world crisis instead) and helping Japan continue as before is the best thing you can do right now.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Candice April 1, 2011 at 3:15 AM

Great post, Rob. I’ve been thinking about you a lot and it’s nice to hear an update. Also nice to hear some reassuring words about the whole nuclear fiasco.

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AdventureRob April 1, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Thanks Candice. The Japanese government have been known to mess around with the truth in the past so aren’t so trusted even here. The media just spin everything into the most dramatic light. So I’ve learnt to seek out the advice from the experts who have been there long time and studied all this before.

I’m back in Fukushima now with regular internet so I can do a few more updates on what I’ve seen here now.

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Alouise April 1, 2011 at 6:25 AM

The media here has gone a little bit crazy with the whole nuclear thing. The media can be a good thing, but sometimes they go a bit extreme. Gotta agree with Candice, it’s nice to hear a local prospective.
Alouise´s latest blogpost – A Lesser Known Way To Make Some Extra Money

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AdventureRob April 1, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Thanks Alouise. You do need to read between the lines and look out for key words when it comes to media coverage. Most people in Japan dislike what the foreign media is covering. CNN had the worst headline I saw ‘We assume a full nuclear meltdown has happened’. How can they use the word assume in a news headline I don’t know, should be illegal that, it’s so damaging.

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Bluegreen Kirk April 1, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Very informative post! Too many people are looking to the media who are really giving them the worst of the worst and not the actual situation at hand. Other countries are doing them more harm than good as they need the tourists.
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Randy April 2, 2011 at 6:32 PM

Great post, man! Glad you are getting the word out about this. I have friends in Japan (American and Japanese) who are saying the same things you are. I’m bummed I missed you on BBC though, maybe I can find it on youtube.
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AdventureRob April 4, 2011 at 8:33 AM

I’ve asked the BBC for a copy but they haven’t been good in chasing it up unfortunately :(

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Denise April 9, 2011 at 8:06 AM

It’s really great to hear this from a foreigner-living-in-Japan perspective, as from Europe, the media is really portraying it as if one should not travel to Japan at all. If I could, I would be right there right now to show my solidarity :(
Denise´s latest blogpost – Spring and Cows are back

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AdventureRob April 9, 2011 at 2:35 PM

Yes, the media always portrays things in the most negative light. They seem to compare it to an earthquake in Haiti or somewhere which are not prepared for it as well as Japan is.

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Tim Wilkinson April 14, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Would you believe some people I know in Osaka left the country because of this? Absolutely ridiculous. I honestly can’t believe people buy the stuff the press tell them.

My dad emailed me saying he heard that cherry blossom events in Tokyo had been banned because of nuclear fallout! I agree, this kind of obvious lying from the media should be banned but it seems they can say what they want.
Tim Wilkinson´s latest blogpost – Hanami in Kyoto

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AdventureRob April 15, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Yeah, it’s actually quite difficult to get good information. I’m trying to stick to the scientists but their reach is much smaller than the media so it’s all a bit one sided.

Some events were cancelled like the fertility festival just out of respect and nearer the time it seems inappropriate to run such events. However other events from now on are mostly as scheduled apart from the ones which would have been held in what is now evacuation centres.

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Richard Stooker April 17, 2011 at 9:23 AM

The media consider their job to overplay things. On the other hand, radiation is nothing to play games with, we now know it’s an extremely serious release, and I can’t blame people for not wanting to be exposed to it. I had a plane trip scheduled through Narita late in March. I’d half expected it to be re-routed and hoped it would be. It wasn’t. I’m sure that in the airport my extra exposure was insignificant, but I wouldn’t be happy were I living in Tokyo.

My travel agent tells me that although some people are fleeing Japan, many Japanese Americans are flying there to help out their families.

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