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The ongoing Fukushima crisis and the psychological war in Tokyo

The ongoing Fukushima crisis and the psychological war in Tokyo

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Radiation fears

Radiation fears

The ongoing nuclear crisis at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is creating a hefty weight and this applies to the psychological impact.  It still remains to be seen what the long-term consequences will be but the psychological impact is impinging on many parts of Japan. 

It is abundantly clear that more than 20,000 people have been killed by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake which unleashed a potent and deadly tsunami.  Therefore, while the tsunami was the “real killer” in Iwate, Miyagi and others prefectures hit by the tsunami. It is apparent that for many people in Tokyo and other prefectures which escaped the deadly tsunami, that the “psychological war” is radiation.

It may seem absurd to some people that many Tokyoites, and people from other prefectures including Kanagawa and Saitama, are so scared by the possibility of radiation entering the environment. 

However, it is clear that the ongoing crisis at the nuclear stricken plant in Fukushima is generating many problems, even if these problems are not realistic or based on factuality.  This is because of the mass uncertainty surrounding radiation and how it can impact on people and their health.

Therefore, even miniscule readings in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama, are setting off alarm bells and this applies to some Japanese nationals leaving for a small break; foreign embassies closing and relocating to other parts of Japan; an increase of foreign nationals leaving Tokyo and the surrounding region; a huge reduction of tourists who were going to visit Tokyo; a scramble for bottled water because of a minor radiation reading which was not deemed dangerous and a host of other factors.

It is also true that other Tokyoites are not worried and many people are just trying to focus on the lighter side of life or focusing on bread and butter issues. 

However, the impact of possible radiation and the never ending saga at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant is creating unforeseen problems and this applies to companies relocating, a huge reduction of tourists visiting Tokyo and other factors which are hindering the economy.

I am sure that people in Iwate, Fukushima, and Miyagi, must be wondering about “how surreal events are in Tokyo” compared with the huge loss of life which was unleashed on so many towns and villages along the coast. 

Also, for people in Fukushima within or near the exclusion zone, it is obvious that the impact is a million times more severe for them and clearly Tokyoites have escaped the real ravages of the earthquake, tsunami, and radiation leaks from the stricken nuclear plant.

Yet just like the huge reduction of tourists who are refusing to visit Tokyo it is all about the psychological damage and irrespective of what government ministers are saying; it is obvious that people are divided about the real impact of the radiation crisis in Fukushima.

Therefore, while some people are hoarding bottled water and other essential products in Tokyo it is also abundantly clear that many people are not. 

On March 25 the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency stated that high level radiation was detected in the reactor’s turbine of the No. 3 reactor.  The main spokesman, Hidehiko Nishiyama, did reassure people that currently it appears that no cracks or damage to the reactor vessel appears to have happened.

According to Nishiyama the high level radiation which led to workers being contaminated was because of overheating fuel rods which are believed to have melted partially.  Nishiyama also made it clear that further verification is needed before concrete conclusions can be given to why workers were exposed to very dangerous levels of radiation.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan stated that “The current situation is still very unpredictable. We’re working to stop the situation from worsening.  We need to continue to be extremely vigilant.” 

Therefore, while police officers and the Japanese military are looking for dead bodies in Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and other coastal regions where the earthquake and tsunami struck; the psychological war continues in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures.

Many people will be relaxing with friends this weekend in Tokyo but others will be hoarding bottled water.  The surreal nature of everything at the moment is beyond understanding and fashion shows and exhibitions will continue to be held across Tokyo.

In Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima, the smell of death is factual and so many have been killed and thousands of families and many communities have been torn apart.   

The deadly tsunami killed more than 20,000 people but not one person appears to have died from radiation.  However, the huge reduction of tourists and people leaving Tokyo is not because they fear a tsunami but it is because of the psychological war which exists within many people.

Therefore, while real tragedy storks northeastern Japan and the impact of radiation is strong in Fukushima; the soft underbelly of Tokyo and people in distant lands is factual and until the nuclear crisis is resolved then little can be done to end the psychological war within many people.

I and millions of others fear little in Tokyo but for millions of others it is different; however, when all is said, it is clear that Tokyoites are lucky to escape the ravages of March 11 and the real menace of radiation which is infringing on the people of Fukushima.  (please visit)


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Tokyo is surreal: from radiation in tap water to shopping for fashion

Tokyo is surreal: from radiation in tap water to shopping for fashion

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Seijo Train Station in Tokyo -  Modern Tokyo Times image

Seijo Train Station in Tokyo – Modern Tokyo Times image

The situation in Tokyo is surreal at the moment because on the one hand you have trendy ladies shopping in the capital but on the other hand you have reports about radiation in tap water.  It is difficult to fathom what reality is at the moment because some people feel deeply anxious while others are just getting on with life and enjoying the usual luxuries that Tokyo provides.

During March 23 you could feel the power of further earthquakes in the Fukushima region in the morning but is seems so natural these days because of the frequency.  It is factual that Japan is hit by earthquakes throughout the year but many are minor and cause no damage; however, since March 11 it appears that it is never ending.

The earthquake of March 11 caused fear and alarm in Tokyo and this was despite escaping relatively unscathed unlike the tragic tragedy which hit Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and other coastal regions in this part of Japan. 

However, the recent earthquakes in Fukushima and so many other places are not creating the same fear because they are not so potent and destructive.  Also, the 9.0-magnitude earthquake which struck on March 11 is very rare and the tsunami it unleashed was beyond my imagination.

Yet the daily tremors are adding to the surreal nature of life in Tokyo because each tremor reminds you about the tragedy of Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and coastal regions which were hit by the tsunami.  However, when you visit the centre of Tokyo you see people shopping, buying new fashion clothes, eating out, chatting with friends, and the usual things that happen during times of normality.

One minute I am in Lumine in Ikebukuro and browsing around many fashion shops and the next minute I am checking my computer and reading about radiation in tap water in Tokyo.  At the same time I meet a client who is a little anxious but the next client cares little and says that things will get back to normal.

Therefore, confusion reigns and this applies to over-hype and under-hype and the Fukushima issue is the same.  The British Embassy in Tokyo issues directives which state that currently the situation in Fukushima is not dangerous to Tokyo.  However, other embassies have told or warned their nationals about the threat of radiation and other side effects from the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant crisis in Fukushima.

Officials today announced that tap water is unfit for babies because the radioactive iodine level in parts of Tokyo, have reached around twice the recommended safety level.  Therefore, this news will set off new alarm bells to parents with babies and the knock on effect will generate fresh fear in some adults.

Of course the situation in Fukushima is much more dangerous and officials have announced that certain vegetables must be avoided.  It is difficult to know if this announcement is based on real heightened concerns or if it is a precautionary measure because the pundits once more appear to have “no single voice.”

In Fukushima the radioactive iodine is around three times the usual level and this applies to the exclusion zone part of Fukushima.  While contamination outside the 20km zone applies to milk and some vegetables but according to government officials the current levels do not pose a threat to health

Ibaraki is also causing concerns and milk and parsley have been forbidden from being sent to the open market.  While in Fukushima local producers have been told to keep their goods and not to send them to market because of radiation factors. 

Yukio Edano, the Japanese Cabinet Secretary, commented that “Even if these foods are temporarily eaten, there is no health hazard.” 

“But unfortunately, as the situation is expected to last for the long term, we are asking that shipments stop at an early stage, and it is desirable to avoid intake of the foods as much as possible.”

The government is also trying to make it clear that safety limits for radiation is extremely low and because of this it is essential that people do not come up with exaggerated claims or fears. 

However, several nations are worried about the radiation factor and possible contamination therefore different nations are responding to the ongoing crisis in Fukushima. 

The United States announced that milk, milk products, fresh fruits and vegetables are to be stopped from entering the market of America and this applies to four prefectures in Japan.  The prefectures that have been listed are Fukushima, where the nuclear crisis is ongoing, Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi. 

Other nations have also issued statements related to Japanese food imports. Nations in northeast Asia have began rigorous checks and the ongoing crisis in Fukushima is clearly going to be detrimental to local producers of food and other goods which are generating concerns.

However, turning back to Tokyo and the surreal nature of life it often appears that nothing ever happened to Japan.  This applies to ladies dressed amicably, fashion stores being full of shoppers, watching children playing football or baseball, and enjoying a cup of coffee in Seijo and a delicious chocolate cake.

Also, while residents in Fukushima are worried about radiation and eating local produce I have just entered the Odakyu Ox shop in Seijo, Tokyo.  All around I can see high quality produce in the supermarket and happy shoppers.

Shopping in Odakyu Ox in Seijo, Tokyo - Modern Tokyo Times image

Shopping in Odakyu Ox in Seijo, Tokyo – Modern Tokyo Times image

Life is certainly surreal because while Seijo in Tokyo is a wealthy area I know full well that around half a million people have been made homeless by the destructive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

I also know that so many people are in shellshock in Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and in coastal areas of other prefectures which were hit by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.  Therefore, you have mass numbers of grieving people and of course some towns and villages have been erased from the map along the coast. 

The surreal nature of events can be found in the reality that while thousands of bodies are still missing in the worst hit areas of Japan; it is business like usual for millions of other people and buying the latest fashion brands in high quality shops can be seen all over Tokyo.   (Good photo images of Seijo)    (Seijo Shopping Centre


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Concerns about radiation in Japan after partial nuclear meltdown

Concerns about radiation in Japan after partial nuclear meltdown

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Fukushima nuclear plant 

Fukushima nuclear plant

According to latest news you have a partial nuclear meltdown but the government of Japan is optimistic that this will not cause a major threat.  Yukio Edano, Chief Cabinet Secretary, stated that radiation at a nuclear plant in Fukushima did go above the legal limit but that this only happened briefly. 

Yukio Edano continued by reassuring people by informing them that the radiation rate declined significantly within a short period of time.  However, the fact that you had a partial nuclear meltdown will worry many people and the Japanese media is much more moderate rather than some famous international news agencies which appear to be making the issue much more dramatic.

The Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, rightly stated that now the main focus is on search and rescue.  At the same time Naoto Kan fully understands that the nuclear factor is serious and a multiple operation is underway with regards to earthquake damage, devastation created because of the tsunami and reports of a partial nuclear meltdown.

Around 170,000 people have been ordered to leave an area around the nuclear plant where three reactors lost control over their cooling functions in Fukushima.  The zone applies to an area of 20 kilometers near the most damaged nuclear plant and the evacuation is in full swing.

Tokyo is very far away from the plant and this applies to 270 kilometers therefore major areas of commerce like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, will try to get things back to normal outside of the major damaged areas.  Therefore, the stock market will be open for business like usual on Monday and clearly the government wants the economy to run smoothly because the costs will be astronomical where the earthquake and tsunami struck.

Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate, and coastal areas of Japan which have been damaged will need great support from the central government. This, alongside the search and rescue mission and getting nuclear plants under control, will take a great effort but Japan is highly developed and prepared for many aspects of the worse case scenario.

Afershocks have continued and apparently one rose to the magnitude of 6.2 on Sunday and some buildings began to sway in Tokyo.  Also, more alarming, it appears that the death total will be much higher than 1,300 people and some police officials fear it could rise to well above 5,000 people.

In an article published by Reuters called Quake-hit Japan nuclear plant faces fresh threat which was co-written by Chris Meyers and Kim Kyung-hoon, it was stated that “The government insisted radiation levels were low following Saturday’s explosion, saying the blast had not affected the reactor core container, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had been told by Japan that levels “have been observed to lessen in recent hours.” 

“But Japan’s nuclear safety agency said the number of people exposed to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi plant could reach 160. Workers in protective clothing were scanning people arriving at evacuation centers for radioactive exposure.”

Fresh news is ongoing and again you have many conflicting reports but the government of Japan is remaining highly optimistic about the nuclear plant issue.

Precautions are being taken with regards to the nuclear plants which have been damaged and are causing concerns and the same applies to evacuating people from the threat of radiation.

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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND GLOBAL NEWS, Japan


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