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How to understand reports from Japan

Really bad luck hits Japan now. Huge earthquake and aftershocks and then tsunami killing thousands of people last weekend and now there is an ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant and reportedly other plants throughout Japan.

First it's now obvious that it was a huge strategic mistake by Japanese government decades ago to decide and build nuclear plants throughout the country with a high seismic risk. Especially if we take into account that Japan is the only country in the history which experienced and survived atomic bombing.

Social culture in Japan is a bit different than western or American social culture. For Japanese people matters most what other people think about them and their social image is most important. What are co-workers and people in close social circles think about them personally about their family and girl/boy-friends and their professional status, etc. This is on individual level and I think it influences other Asia-pacific countries societies as well. In western culture it matters much less and there is much less social pressure. Despite the fact that during post WW2 era Japan adopted much from western culture especially music and movies their culture and society remains deeply isolated from the rest of the world.

Now I think that the same is true on the international level as well - it matters a lot for Japanese society how are other people feel and think about them internationally. Need to understand that the public image that is associated with Japanese people throughout the world in modern era i.e. hard-working, disciplined, technologically superior is partly due to the decades of efforts by the Japanese governments and much PR however in reality it's not 1 to 1 I believe.

I'm following some tweets from different people living in Japan and writing in English and most of them are international students in Japanese universities. They wrote that Japanese people were embarrassed most by the coverage of the crisis by international media and during their first day after the disaster at the university professors asked them to call their friends abroad and tell and write them that the situation is under control in Japan and everything is cool. It is going all to blow up and what they think is how do other people think about them! Impossible.

So need to understand and see Japanese official announcements concerning the disaster in that perspective. Japan initially agreed to receive only limited international help and the first official reaction was that the situation is under control and what we are having it is not Chernobyl style disaster but something localized.

I decided to write this post after the explosion on the reactor Fukushima-1 #1 but today #3 and #2 reactors blew up as well and now it is clear that the situation is not under control. While #2 has now an open containment (which is the worst scenario). And it is still an ongoing crisis. Taken all the above into account it's clear that the situation is much worse, there is no control on the situation, it is hell and all the whole area is lost forever. Now think that Tokyo is only 200 km from the station maybe they will be forced to evacuate Tokyo. The radiation is likely to be spread to the pacific or worse to other countries in the region.

There have been many incidents on almost each and every Japanese nuclear power plant but we've never heard about them, right? During this earthquake a total of 11 reactors (out of total of 56) were shut-down automatically and now there are problems with electricity supply and basic needs.

wikipedia: Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant

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Monday, March 14, 2011 7:03 PM


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