The reality and unreality of Tokyo amidst the hype of the media
Modern Tokyo Times
Lee Jay Walker
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.
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