Next Sunday will see the anniversary of another catastrophe which happened on the 11th day of a month, namely the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami also called 東日本大震災 in Japanese which wrecked havoc on the nuclear plants in Fukushima, Fukushima prefecture.
A lot has been said, written, filmed and argued about it, but only recently the true images of this sad event are emerging.
I live in Shizuoka City in supposedly the most dangerous zone in Japan when it comes to earthquakes and tsunamis and I have been living through a few of them for the nearly 36 years I have spent in this region, arguably one of the richest in Japan.
ABOUT THE MEDIA COVERAGE
I had just arrived in New Caledonia when the earthquake struck.
The pictures and videos shown on French were that of an apocalypse and repeated at nauseam. Frankly speaking, I believed it was the end of Shizuoka until I noticed in small letters on the screen that Miyagi Prefecture had been hit instead.
We called relatives in Shizuoka who answered that although they did feel the tremors there was no danger there.
Fortunately we had come to New Caledonia through the Kanku (Osaka) Airport, so coming back to Japan was not a problem.
On the other hand the situation at Haneda and Narita Airports was hectic to say the least.
As soon as we arrived some expats asked me why I came back… “Sorry, mate, but this is my home!”…
Naturally the media, Japanese and foreign, were in a frenzy with contradicting, when not outrageously inept reports.
I lost most of my respect and trust for the TV media in particular when I saw Alain de Calvron, a “senior and most respected” reporter for TV Channel France 2 reporting “live” on Fukushima from Osaka (750 km away!) from second or third hand news…!
The media had a scoop and they were going to make the most of it…
THE EMBASSIES REACTION
Of course I found my mail box bombarded with all kinds of messages…
The French Embassy was urging me no less than to evecuate Shizuoka Prefecture (450 km away from Fukushima…) and possibly either momentarily move west or even back home. I was informed that some plane seats were being readied (at a price…) by the French Embassy in case I wished to go back home. I found later that the 900 French nationals who left were for the most related to the staff of the French Embassy…
On the other hand, we were ceaselessly told that volunteers at the Embassy were working like heroes to ensure the safety of their compatriots and their families…
Later when things calmed down and people started realizing that all was not as relatively bad as some people would make us believe, the French Embassador announced officially on TV, Internet media and in personal messages that he and the Embassy should not be held responsible for the panic shown by many French nationals as they had only advised their compatriots to take precautions…
I will not say anythiong about the other Embassies here, or I would have to write a book!
THE PEOPLE OF TOHOKU
Tohoku people are hardy, and most probably the hardiest people in the Japan Archipelago, and their sheer tenacity, courage, resilience and toughness saved the day for the Japanese Government which is still dragging its feet…
I saw more people crying visiting the region than tears on the Tohoku citizens7 faces.
Had it been Tokyo with its large expat community and commuters it would been hell on earth…
We tend to forget what happened during the Great Kansai Earthquake in Kobe when people were seen setting fire to their houses to claim insurance money… Tohoku people are Japanese, but they are also an example for the whole of their country who should take heed in these days of easy life…
As I said the Government was and still is found wanting, but a lot of help came from citizens, Japanese and foreign alike, people who understood the pressing needs of struck fellow humans. I know many Pakistani and Indian and other Asian citizens from near and who immediately travelled by their own means to Fukushima and other struck areas to bring and cook food for free. Dominique Corby, the owner of Michelin-starred 6eme Sens Restaurant in Tokyo summoned help from his fellow chefs and also organised much-needed food on site. I had the occasion to talk to him later and he told me he couldn’t stop crying… he is presently organising an enormous Charity Dinner in Tokyo this month.
My good friend Pat at Think Twice is adding the following comment which I find poignantly to the poiint!
-The hardships of the people of Tohoku continue. Many thousands will probably never be able to return to their homes, and so many families have lost loved ones. The unimaginable sorrow experienced by so many people will be with them all their lives. The tireless work of the local people including city officials, medical staff, the police and firefighters, and even the SDF, continues despite the infighting and inaction of the national government. And there have been so many volunteers from all around the country trying to help in their own way. Help is still needed. Some towns were so devastated that they were faced with the equivalent of 20 years of garbage generated in one hour.
The situation in Tohoku remains bleak, but we can often see the children of Tohoku on TV programs, and there appears to be a sense of pride, a sense of strength in the new generation, many children seem mature beyond their years. It will take one or two generations before Tohoku is restored, but its future is in good hands
THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT ACTIONS
Unfortunately there is not much I can say about that!
Kan (“No, he can’t!), the Prime Minister at the time (who was only too happy to pass the hand later), completely panicked to the point of telling all that his studies at University had not trained him to deal with such an occurence!
He left all comments, answers and actions to his subordinates with the express orders not to panic anyone by telling the truth… You should read what some well-informed magazines are at last uncovering about the guilty reaction of the government!
And during that time mayors and public servants who had lost families, friends and colleagues in the struck areas were trying hard to bring solace to their citizens…
TEPCO/TOKYO ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY
A lot has been said about the sheer criminality of this Government-subsidized and protected private company.
A sole example should convince one and all that the people in charge of such a company should be jailed for life:
The wall surrounding/protecting the Fukushima Nuclear Plants was erected 5 meters lower than contracted to save money!
Of course (again), many foreign governments and “NPO’s” were quick to seize the opportunity in their endeavors to cease all producing public electricity with nuclear energy. I will not discuss whether nuclear energy is needed or not and will not answer comments pertaining to it. On the other hand, I would like to point out a few things to set the record straight:
-Since the advent of Chernobyl (and Three Mile Island) the Japanese Government had set the limit for acceptable radioactivity to 500 becquerels.
-European countries were adopting a higher limit of 1,800 becquerels until Fukushima when they hurriedly lowered their numbers to conform with the Japanese standards…
-The Japanese Government will set the limit to 100 becquerels for food this month. What is going to happen if the Japanese Customs decide to check all imported food?…
-Where does Germany buys its own electricity from?
-The Japanese have started drilling methane hydrate off their shores for a promising new source of energy while closing all nuclear plants. Unfortunately, there are such exploitable deposits only in Japan, Siberia, Canada and Gabon, and Japan is the only country capable of exploiting it so far…
HERE IN SHIZUOKA
As I said above Shizuoka Prefecture is considered the most earthquake and tsunami prone region in Japan and the only equipped with an official early-warning and research seismic center.
Shimada City and the Shizuoka Prefecture Government were the first this month to volunteer to burn debris from the affected areas in Tohoku first as a test case. If this proves to be a safe endeavor, it will continue on an accelerated basis.
THE GOOD NEWS: YES!
Cruise finds Fukushima pollution: Good News-Sea radiation levels near Fukushima are not harmful, by Jonathan Amos of the BBC!
Just found this article written by Jonathan Amos for the BBC
Marine organisms were collected for evaluation
Radioactive elements from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant have been detected in seawater and marine organisms up to 600km from Japan.
But the scientists who made the discovery stress the natural radioactivity of seawater dwarfs anything seen in their samples.
The initial findings were presented to the biennial Ocean Sciences Meeting.
“Just because we can measure radioactivity doesn’t mean it’s harmful,” WHOI’s Ken Buesseler told the gathering in Salt Lake City.
“There’s a pretty good news story in here – that the levels [of radioactivity] offshore are not of significance to human health in terms of exposure, or even if you were to eat the seafood offshore,” he added.
This is unfortunately a very short commentary on this event concerning all, but I sincerely hope it has brought a few needed precisions and contributed to the truth.
RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES
Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India
Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London
Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,
Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery