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Does Fukushima show a split in philosophy between Asia and Europe?

Does Fukushima show a split in philosophy between Asia and Europe?

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

The March 11 earthquake in Japan led to tens of thousands of people being killed and clearly the overwhelming majority of people died because of the tsunami.  However, it is the nuclear energy issue which is still raging in Europe which appears to be of much greater importance despite nobody dying from radiation.

It is also factual that the long term effects of radiation will not be known until the future because cancer

clusters may or may not appear?  Therefore, it is the unknown threat and the invisible nature of radiation which is the main cause of concern.

However, the response to the Fukushima radiation crisis is varied and while nations like Switzerland have announced that they will phase out their nuclear energy; other nations like China, India, and South Korea will continue to move forward and develop more nuclear power plants.

Therefore, is the Fukushima crisis about a split in philosophy between a pragmatic Asia and an over sensitive Europe?  Of course, not all of Europe can be labeled together and nations like the Russian Federation will have a stronger mindset but in countries like Germany and Switzerland, to name a few, then clearly the fear of nuclear meltdown is causing major ripples.

In my article called Nuclear crisis in Japan but Uranium price to rebound on news from China and India; I highlight the fact that China and India will continue to develop nuclear energy.  The same applies to South Korea because like China and India it is clear that the government in Seoul believes that nuclear energy is a must. Also, unlike fossil fuels then this energy is also environmentally friendly and all the above named nations believe that a diverse energy policy is essential in order to meet huge electricity demands.

I commented in my article that “Daily images of the stricken Daiichi nuclear plant alongside massive scaremongering meant that national governments which had future plans in the pipeline were coming under the microscope.” 

“However, despite this, and uranium being just below 9 per cent down this year, it appears that the worse may be over for the price of uranium.  This applies to China and India who will continue to forge ahead with their respective nuclear power projects.”

Indeed, according to Bloomberg and other sources, it is reported that nuclear energy will grow by roughly 46 per cent by 2020 amongst the leading five nations which use nuclear energy.” 

Therefore, why are Switzerland, Germany, and other nations in Europe, responding so differently?  After all, even in Japan it would appear that nuclear energy will remain to be a powerful source of energy even if the current Japanese government introduces greater safety measures or focuses on alternative sources of energy.

Maybe the main difference is that environmentalists and the mass media are more motivated by green issues in Europe and they had a long term agenda whereby they could exploit an issue like Fukushima?  Yes, radiation is a serious issue and clearly nations like Japan is hindered because of its earthquake and tsunami fault-line; which means that nuclear power stations are exposed to the ravages of nature from time to time.

However, while Switzerland does have the occasional earthquake; it is clear that China faces a greater threat and the same applies to other nations in Asia which will forge ahead with their nuclear power policies.

Therefore, the current split between Asia and Europe would appear to be based on political motives, the role of the green movement, the mass media which clearly over-hyped the crisis in Europe, and other factors.  Also, maybe some European nations have become overtly self-centered?

After all, I find it rather strange for people to be marching about the nuclear issue when thousands of people are still missing in Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi.  It is also noticeable that the demonstrations in Japan have mainly been tame or often based on economic factors when applied to local farmers and so forth in Fukushima.

The democratic factor could have been raised if it only applied to China but clearly India and South Korea are democratic nations. Also, Japan is democratic despite the frequency of political leaders to resign. Therefore, maybe it is all down to different philosophical thinking between Asia and Europe?

After all, political paternalism is much stronger in Asia and while you have major differences within different nations or within the same nation based on culture, religion, ethnicity, thought patterns, development stages, and so forth; it would appear that individualism and other factors within Europe are different on the whole.

Added to this, the green lobby is very potent in Europe and the mass media also showed the enormous gap in thinking between many nations. 

What is clear is that major nations in Asia are forging ahead with nuclear power but in parts of Europe the opposite is happening and a lot of soul searching is going on.

Therefore, why is the gap between parts of Asia and Europe so huge when it comes to nuclear energy?

 

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

 

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Tokyo fashion after the earthquake and a long hot summer

Tokyo fashion after the earthquake and a long hot summer

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

The March 11 earthquake which unleashed the tsunami and nuclear crisis in Fukushima certainly hit the economy in northeast Japan, Kanto region, and other surrounding areas.  Companies in other parts of Japan were badly hit because many production lines were based in northeast Japan and blackouts and power shortages created untold problems.

Of course during the devastating events of March 11 and the following days all emphasis was on the tragic death toll and trying to find people who were covered by the mass of debris. 

The radiation crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant also created panic and many foreign nationals, companies, embassies, and so forth; relocated or left temporarily because of the fear factor and mass uncertainty which was generated by the nuclear issue.

Several months later and the nuclear crisis is still ongoing in Fukushima but at a much lower level because of containment policies. Therefore, the fear factor in Tokyo appears to be over and embassies which were closed have re-opened and normality is returning to most sectors.

Obviously, the situation in northeast Japan remains problematic because while the economic recovery is starting to impact on areas hit the most it will still take a long time to readjust.  Also, certain sectors, like the fisheries, remain to be hit hard and the nuclear issue in Fukushima will continue to hinder this sector and the same applies to areas surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

However, turning back to Tokyo then it is clear that this city is in full swing and the fashion sector is starting to pick up again. 

In late 2010 the economy of Japan was starting to show signs of a recovery and this was maintained in the first few months of 2011.  Therefore, strong sales in December, 2010, were announced at many luxury retailers throughout Tokyo and the fashion sector on a whole was optimistic about a positive 2011.

This was all cut short by the devastating events of March 11 but now optimism is returning to Tokyo and with the long hot summer on its way then a new vibrancy is also picking up. 

Companies like 6%DOKIDOKI took their fashion designs to North America and acted with compassion and care and Sebastian Masuda was the brainchild behind the Mighty Harajuku Project.  Therefore, 6%DOKIDOKI, and other fashion companies which supported the Mighty Harajuku Project; were raising funds for northeast Japan alongside helping local clients and showing an image of positivity despite the despair which was being felt at the time.

Today if you visit buzzing places in Tokyo like Ebisu, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Omotesando, Shinjuku, and other trendy areas, then it is clear that fashion companies are attracting shoppers.

In Lumine in Ikebukuro on the west side you have fantastic displays of elegant and exquisite fashion companies.  Smacky Glam (SmackyGlam) and many other fashion boutiques have an array of luxury products whereby you have high quality fabrics alongside fantastic color schemes and designs.

Department stores which have been in the doldrums for a long time apart from the odd period have also announced strong April sales compared to the slump in March following the events of the March 11 earthquake.  Hankyu-Hanshin announced very positive sales and Daimaru-Matsuzakaya also stated that sales were up by just less than 3 per cent. 

Mitsukoshi-Isetan also stated that sales were slightly up and given the events of March 11 then for Mitsukoshi-Isetan this was remarkable. After all, Mitsukoshi-Isetan is more focused on the Tokyo region than Hankyu-Hanshin which is Kansai based.

However, department stores are still down when compared with results from last year but it is hoped that the summer period will see an upturn and given the events of this year then the figures could have been a lot worse.

Therefore, with the long hot summer on its way the fashion sector in Tokyo may see a rebound of fresh optimism because the doom and gloom of March and early April seems a long time ago. 

It is also hoped that tourists will start to flock to Tokyo and Japan once more because Tokyo is a Mecca for fashion and Osaka is also very vibrant.

The long hot summer is on its way and the feeling of hope and the freshness of new styles will hopefully lead to an upturn in sales.

http://tokyofashion.com/

http://www.dokidoki6.com/  (6%DOKIDOKI)

http://www.smackyglam.com/ (SmackyGlam)

http://www.lumine.ne.jp/ikebukuro/  (Lumine)

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Japan

 

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My week in Tokyo after the earthquake struck

My week in Tokyo after the earthquake struck

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Empty train at Night in Tokyo after the earthquake 

March 11th at 2.30 pm appeared to be nothing special in Tokyo because like usual the capital city was busy and the onrushing crowd could be seen and felt all over the capital. However, at 2.46 pm everything changed because a 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit Japan and the potency could be felt in Tokyo despite the epicenter being far away.

I was in the Yurakcho area when the earthquake struck and I could see the JR Yurakcho train line shaking violently and the same applied to the ground and buildings nearby.  It became apparent from the first second that this was no ordinary earthquake because the potency and strength was beyond my imagination.

Also, unlike other earthquakes that I have witnessed in Japan the longevity of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake was long and severe.  The pavement felt like it was going to burst and second after second felt like a lifetime because many things were flashing in my mind.

I witnessed people running out of the book shop and other buildings close to the train station in Yurakcho and some women were crying because they were visibly shocked.  While others were watching the train station swaying and amidst the confusion people just stood and gazed in bewilderment. 

After this, then parts of Tokyo grinded to a halt and this notably applied to the train system and companies which had a strong earthquake policy.  However, amidst the confusion many retail shops stayed open in Ginza and people were still shopping in some department stores after the first major earthquake struck because the magnitude of the earthquake was still unknown.

I entered the Tokyo International Forum for safety because I know that buildings are built to the highest standard in Tokyo and in other major cities throughout Japan.  If I had been in any other nation then I would have avoided a major building out of fear.  However, I know full well that Japan designs buildings in order to resist the destructiveness of earthquakes and the Nihonbashi, Ginza, and Yurakcho area is in a very exclusive part of Tokyo and the state of the art buildings are a class apart.

The next few hours passed and major aftershocks could be felt from time to time but most people did not panic.  I, like many others, searched for information and then it soon became apparent that the earthquake had hit Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and outlying prefectures, very hard.

In time it became known that a devastating tsunami followed but information at first was very sketchy.  By this time the transportation system was in chaos and I was walking around various parts of Tokyo and I got lost between Akihabara, Kanda, and Otemachi.  However, by 10pm the metro system began to work and I found a Mita Line train station and entered a jam-packed train and headed home.

It was not until the following day that news began to emerge that the death total was going to be very high.  This was because of the terrible tsunami which destroyed many coastal parts of Japan.

Aftershocks were ongoing and Tokyo felt very strange one day after the earthquake had hit Japan.  Many companies were closed and the train system remained to be chaotic on some lines and the aftershocks were adding to the uneasiness.

After several days more and more news was filtering out and it was apparent that thousands of people had died in Iwate, Fukushima, Miyagi, and regional prefectures in the same part of Japan. 

Shops were running empty on food in Tokyo and many companies were closed or reduced the working day.  I myself visited Seiyu and was amazed that food hoarding was happening so quickly because Tokyo had escaped relatively unscathed compared with people along the coast of north-eastern Japan.

All my appointments were cancelled for one full week and many mobile phone companies were not operating fully.  More important, it was becoming more apparent that a split was emerging between the areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami compared with people in Tokyo.

This applies to the nuclear plants in Fukushima because the fear of radiation was felt in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures like Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama.  Therefore, while local people were feeling the tragic loss of life in Iwate and Miyagi and clearly were finding life hard because of electricity failure, lack of running water, and of course many had been made homeless. 

The situation was different for Tokyoites because while sympathy and concern went out to the earthquake and tsunami hit areas; it was apparent that the radiation factor was more of a problem.

For people in Fukushima they had to face the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear factor, together because all three tragedies hit this part of Japan.  Therefore, while the nuclear issue became a concern in Iwate and Miyagi; they could not afford the luxury of Tokyoites to mainly focus on radiation because they were too busy finding dead people in the thousands and facing the brunt of power blackouts and other negative factors.

The most noticeable change in Tokyo is that people are finishing work early or companies have closed down or reduced the working day.  Therefore, by 9pm at night from March 12th to March 18th the silence of Tokyo was apparent because many trains are quiet and many shops are closed.

It is also noticeable that many foreign nationals are leaving because of the fear of radiation but I, and others, have no intention of leaving Tokyo because this is my home.

My heart goes out to the people of Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and other badly hit areas and in truth I count myself lucky that I reside in Tokyo.  I do not worry about radiation because I believe that Tokyo is too far away and I feel a sense of guilt to worry about this.

Also, my working-class Manchester nature is strong and my northern English roots and culture is based on being tenacious and not giving up.

After all, thousands of people have been killed by the earthquake and tsunami.  Therefore, it is the people of Fukushima who are on the frontline of the nuclear crisis and I can write every day, travel by train, take a shower when I want, and use the infrastructure of Tokyo.

The silence is eerie at night and my economic situation is being hit by the earthquake.  However, thousands of families wish they had only my basic problems but sadly they have lost everything.

More than one week after the tragic earthquake and tsunami and Tokyo still feels strange.  This applies to silence at night, food hoarding, business closures or reduced working hours, and a sense of fear about radiation for some Tokyoites.

However, for some you still see people meeting friends, having a drink, shopping during the day and the usual things.  Therefore, just like when the earthquake first struck, it is apparent that people have different thinking and for some it is business like usual but in a more guarded way. 

While for others they are visibly in shock and are anxious about the ongoing nuclear crisis and are saddened by the destruction and huge loss of life in Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and other coastal areas.

Tokyo life is currently in a flux and like Japan itself, it is clear that March 11th will be embedded into the psyche but for all the wrong reasons.

http://www.moderntokyotimes.com

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/attractions/shopping/ginza.html   

- GINZA AND YURAKCHO PART OF TOKYO

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3005.html  – GINZA

 

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