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Fukushima and sound early advice by Sir John Beddington helped many

Fukushima and sound early advice by Sir John Beddington helped many

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

March 11 in Tokyo was a very eventful day because the powerful 9.0-magnitude earthquake violently shook the capital of Japan many times. Having resided in Tokyo for many years then earthquakes are nothing new and usually you just go with the flow and soon it is over.  However, this day was very different because the force was enormous and it felt like the ground was going to open up.

The first few hours witnessed aftershock after aftershock and it seemed like it wasn’t going to end.  In Yurakcho and Ginza, where I was aimlessly wandering around, the high octane nature of fashion suddenly felt unimportant and the notion of reality was like an illusion.

After several hours of uncertainty people in Tokyo were still unaware about what was happening in distant Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima.  The news on television was mentioning that a tsunami had followed the original earthquake but information was patchy. Therefore, during this period most people in Tokyo believed that tens of people or a few hundred people may have died but nobody could have imagined the real devastation.

Not only this, but Fukushima was not even on the radar in Tokyo during the early period and most people, me included, just watched the breaking news on wide television screens in buildings where they are available.  The train system was in shut-down mode and the aftershocks were many, therefore, it was all about biding your time and trying to contact friends if possible or somehow finding your way home.

The next few days felt extremely strange in Kanagawa, Tokyo and Saitama, where I am based.  Also, more details were emerging about Fukushima and the Daiichi nuclear plant and this story was picked on by the global media.

At the same time it was becoming more apparent that thousands of people had perished and by the end of a week or so then clearly this figure was rising to the tens of thousands. Images of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima were being shown daily and the footage was horrendous. This applies to images of the tsunami sweeping away villages and towns and the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

Many international news agencies were painting a picture that was genuine with regards to the tsunami but completely over the top when it came to Fukushima.  This created a panic and many embassies closed and vast numbers of foreign nationals began to leave.

Of course, at no point was I going to leave because Tokyo is my home and for better or worse it is my shared city along with my beloved Manchester.  However, just like in all events you had a voice of reason amidst the scaremongers and this voice of reason belonged to Sir John Beddington.

In my earlier article called British scientific adviser: nothing to fear outside of Fukushima exclusion zone which I wrote on March 17 in Tokyo, I highlight this man of wisdom and deep knowledge.  I commented that “The British Embassy in Tokyo on March 15th invited the Government’s Chief Scientific Professor, Sir John Beddington, to answer deep and difficult questions related to the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  Sir John Beddington replied and gave detailed information about the most likely outcome and his opinion about events which have been reported in the press.”

Sir John Beddington stated “…what I would really re-emphasise is that this is very problematic for the area and the immediate vicinity and one has to have concerns for the people working there. Beyond the 20 or 30 kilometres, it’s really not an issue for health.”

Therefore, after reading the full transcript of what Sir John Beddington stated I felt re-assured and completely vindicated about telling people to stay in Tokyo. This applies to a few individuals I know who hit the panic button.

Turning back to my article I stated that “at all times, it appears that the British point of view is that Tokyo is very safe and the same applies to all areas outside of the exclusion zone of the Fukushima nuclear plant but 30km was mentioned to be extremely safe, therefore, the exclusion zone may be added if developments become severe and meltdown actually happens.”

Sir John Beddington was a tower of strength in the following days and weeks after March 11. Of course some of his views may have changed given the release of further information but the fundamentals will remain the same.

On the other side you had scaremongers and one writer for the BBC was clearly out of order.  Therefore, in another article I commented that “According to Rupert Wingfield-Hayes you would believe that all Tokyoites are panicking and are in a flux because of events since the devastating earthquake.  He states in his article called “The eerie quiet of Tokyo hides Japan’s shock and anxiety,” which was published by the BBC, that “The threat to Tokyo’s 30 million people is invisible.  Everyone is now asking themselves the same question.  When does the crisis unfolding at the Fukushima nuclear plant 150 miles (240km) to the north cross that invisible line when you decide the risk of staying here is too high?”

Sadly you had many Rupert Wingfield-Hayes who were adding fuel to the fire but luckily words of wisdom were being stated by people of deep knowledge like Sir John Beddington.

Therefore, relatives and friends in many lands were hanging on his words and if only the media heeded his sound advice.  However, you have many agendas and this applies to environmentalists, anti-nuclear lobby, and many other factors.

Yet for people like myself, I followed the advice of Sir John Beddington and after reading his pearls of wisdom I just knuckled down and got on with life.  After all, Tokyoites were very lucky to escape the ravages of the earthquake, tsunami and radiation from Fukushima.

The British Embassy in Tokyo  http://ukinjapan.fco.gov.uk/en/

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/03/17/british-scientific-adviser-nothing-to-fear-outside-of-fukushima-exclusion-zone/

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/03/21/the-reality-and-unreality-of-tokyo-amidst-the-hype-of-the-media/

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
 
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The reality and unreality of Tokyo amidst the hype of the media

The reality and unreality of Tokyo amidst the hype of the media

Modern Tokyo Times

Lee Jay Walker

Tokyo 
Tokyo

Many media outlets have been involved in scaremongering since the earthquake struck Japan on March 11.  Indeed, comments made about Tokyo have not only been “over-hyped” but it is hard to fathom where the ideas came from in the first place because they have either been dramatized or the generalizations have been shocking.

According to Rupert Wingfield-Hayes you would believe that all Tokyoites are panicking and are in a flux because of events since the devastating earthquake.  He states in his article called “The eerie quiet of Tokyo hides Japan’s shock and anxiety,” which was published by the BBC, that “The threat to Tokyo’s 30 million people is invisible.  Everyone is now asking themselves the same question.  When does the crisis unfolding at the Fukushima nuclear plant 150 miles (240km) to the north cross that invisible line when you decide the risk of staying here is too high?”

I, and millions of other people in Tokyo, apparently have not asked the same question because the fear of Fukushima depends on your individual perception of what is really happening.  Therefore, millions of people in the Tokyo region are going to work, shopping for clothes, and doing the usual things in life.

It is true that some companies have either closed temporarily or they have reduced the working time because of various factors, and this applies to possible blackouts and the need to reduce electricity.  However, it must be remembered that many of these measures are temporary and gradually Tokyo is returning to normal and the vast majority of companies are functioning and in the morning the train system is jam packed like normal.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes commented about an “invisible line” and “when you decide the risk of staying here is too high?”  I find this either scaremongering or it is based on sensationalism and when he stated “everyone” then the statement enters the role of mass generalization because some people are clearly worried but millions of other people are not.  

To be fair to Rupert Wingfield-Hayes he is not the only journalist to spread over hyped comments and he does make good points about northern areas which have been devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.  Yet why comment about Tokyo in a way which seems out of place with reality?

Japan needs to get back on its feet and I find it ironic that the train service in Tokyo after nine days of a devastating earthquake is functioning better on most lines than the average morning in London or Manchester.

Millions of Tokyoites have not asked themselves about “the risk of staying here is too high?”  This is because people fully understand that the real tragedy happened in Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and other coastal areas. Also, despite the situation in Fukushima being complex it is abundantly clear that Tokyo is very far from the nuclear plant in Fukushima.

The British Government’s Chief Scientific Professor, Sir John Beddington, commented about the nuclear crisis in Fukushima and he stressed “…what I would really re-emphasise is that this is very problematic for the area and the immediate vicinity and one has to have concerns for the people working there. Beyond that 20 or 30 kilometres, it’s really not an issue for health.” 

Therefore, it is clear that the real threat from the Fukushima nuclear plant is to the people who reside in the surrounding area and it is abundantly clear that Tokyo is very far from Fukushima and for people in Tokyo according to Sir John Beddington “…it’s really not an issue for health.”

Yes, it is factual at the moment that Tokyo is not the usual 24 hour buzzing city but this is because of power constraints and other factors, therefore, it is true that by 9pm it is relatively quiet in Tokyo.

However, let us not forget that a 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit Japan and this was followed by a destructive tsunami which killed thousands and then the issue of the Fukushima nuclear plant happened.

Therefore, I find it remarkable that Tokyo is functioning so well and the reason why Tokyo is functioning so well is because the vast majority of Tokyoites are working like usual and are focused on every day issues.

At the same time Tokyoites understand that Iwate, Fukushima, Miyagi, and other areas hit badly by recent events, need economic support and they also understand that they are lucky to have escaped the ravages of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

http://www.moderntokyotimes.com  (please visit)

 

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British scientific adviser: nothing to fear outside of Fukushima exclusion zone

British scientific adviser: nothing to fear outside of Fukushima exclusion zone

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Radiation checks in Japan
Radiation checks in Japan

The British Embassy in Tokyo on March 15th invited the Government’s Chief Scientific Professor, Sir John Beddington, to answer deep and difficult questions related to the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  Sir John Beddington replied and gave detailed information about the most likely outcome and his opinion about events which have been reported in the press.

This article is based on the questions and answers which were given.  Therefore, it is hoped that people will listen to Sir John Beddington and heed his advice because a lot of information and disinformation appears to be going around and this is adding to the confusion of Fukushima.

The Japanese government implemented a 20km exclusion zone from the Fukushima nuclear plant and for people who reside between 20 and 30kms the advice was that people should keep their windows closed and stay inside.

According to Sir John Beddington this advice is proportionate and appropriate to the current events in Fukushima.  Therefore, he is vindicating the Japanese government and the answer and question session will now be scrutinized in greater detail.

The First Minister at the British Embassy in Tokyo, David Fitton, was the moderator during the teleconference which took place with Sir John Beddington.

David Fitton started by commenting that it was important that people listened to the views of an expert and his fellow colleagues because it helps the British Embassy in Tokyo to express much needed advice.  He also acknowledged that guidance was also being provided by Japanese professionals but stressed that guidance in the United Kingdom was important “on scientific, nuclear, geological and other issues.”

Sir John Beddington immediately focused on the crux of the matter and he stated that the Japanese are trying to keep the reactors cool by pumping sea water that will keep the temperature down; that’s their first line of defence.  And up to now that’s been working… reasonably well.  Basically the reactor lies within a large containment vessel. But if it isn’t cooled particularly well, then the pressure in the containment vessel goes up and it reaches a level where it can’t cope.”  

Sir John Beddington continues by stating that At that stage the Japanese authorities deliberately release a mixture of steam and hydrogen gas and so on into the atmosphere.  This is really quite modest amounts of radioactive material and it’s not likely, by and large, one shouldn’t be concerned about it.”

He continued by stating that events had changed because one of the containment vessels appears to be somewhat cracked but the situation remains mainly the same.  Sir John Beddington also commented that the outcome of containing this situation led to“very limited amounts of radioactive material going out.”

Sir John Beddington agreed that the 20km exclusion zone was adequate but he did add that 30km would be extremely safe.  However, it is clear that he believes that the 20km exclusion zone is “sensible and proportionate.”

He then talked about the worst possible outcome and scenario if a “meltdown” actually happened.  Sir John Beddington commented that this would be serious, but, importantly, he stressed that this would only be serious for the local area surrounding the nuclear plant in Fukushima.

Even if a meltdown occurred and you had an explosion then the nuclear material would reach roughly 500 meters into the air.  If you add this, he continued, to negative weather conditions which blew into the direction of Greater Tokyo and then rainfall would bring it down then would this then create a major problem? 

Sir John Beddington was clear about the answer because he stated “The answer is unequivocally no.  Absolutely no issue. The problems are within 30km of the reactor.”

After this he commented about Chernobyl and how the situation was much more dramatic because radiation from this nuclear plant lasted for months but even then the 30km exclusion zone was adequate because people outside of this had no problems with radiation.   He also stressed that the problem with Chernobyl was because people kept on drinking the water and eating vegetables within the area of contamination.

Sir John Beddington stressed “…what I would really re-emphasise is that this is very problematic for the area and the immediate vicinity and one has to have concerns for the people working there. Beyond that 20 or 30 kilometres, it’s really not an issue for health.” 

Many other questions were asked and answered and a link to the entire transcript will be given at the end of this article.  However, at all times, it appears that the British point of view is that Tokyo is very safe and the same applies to all areas outside of the exclusion zone of the Fukushima nuclear plant but 30km was mentioned to be extremely safe, therefore, the exclusion zone may be added if developments become severe and meltdown actually happens.

http://moderntokyotimes.com (Please visit)

http://ukinjapan.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?view=News&id=566799182   – 

Please read the entire transcript at the above given link.

The British Embassy in Tokyo  http://ukinjapan.fco.gov.uk/en/

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2011 in INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND GLOBAL NEWS, Japan

 

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