Japan, Post-Quake: HD Stays.

A week ago, Japan was hit by the worst recorded earthquake in the country’s history. It and the resulting tsunami that followed have killed thousands and caused suffering to thousands more, as well as destroying infrastructure that threatens the well-being of the entire country. The situation at the damaged Fukushima reactors is grave.

It is not, however, as dire as many international media reports are making it out to be. The radiation escaping from the fuel rods at the plant is a highly local phenomenon, and outside the radius currently set for evacuation, radiation levels are at or near normal. Millions of people living in Tokyo and the surrounding areas are carrying on their lives as normally as possible, myself included.

Based on the information available, I’ve made the decision for now to stay put. If the situation worsens I’m preparing to evacuate, but right now that’s such a hypothetical scenario that it doesn’t seem prudent. I’m basing this on information from the following sources, which will hopefully provide some consolation for those who may have heard the threat overstated:

The overall message to take away right now is that the situation in and around Fukushima is still highly volatile and uncertain, but its effect is contained. Levels are being constantly monitored in Tokyo and show no sign for concern. Japan needs help – but that help should, and will, properly go to the affected areas in the north, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced with little food and water and it is still very cold in this early spring.

If you would like to help, or for additional information on the situation and the actual relief needs of the Japanese people, the Google collected resources page for the crisis is a good place to start.

For lovers of Japan and its culture, we’re all in this together.

Follow @heiseidemocracy on Twitter for (more) regular updates from Japan.

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8 Responses to Japan, Post-Quake: HD Stays.

  1. Anonymous Scanner March 18, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    Glad to hear you’re okay!

    I agree that the media is really blowing the Fukushima story out of proportion. “The worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl!” sounds scary…until you realize there haven’t BEEN many nuclear disasters since Chernobyl (and none were very serious).

    • Shingo March 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      I think the nuclear situation is accurately described as a “sideshow” (believe that was said by the British ambassador to Japan). The real tragedy is what’s happening to the people in Tohoku, around Sendai and Fukushima and the other affected areas. The overall hit to the country’s power grid is another big worry with summer peak usage season approaching, but that’s a different sort of challenge from the immediate relief work. It’s a recovery that will take time.

  2. sheep March 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    “For lovers of Japan and its culture, we’re all in this together.”

    Well said and I’m glad to hear you are safe Shingo, and thanks for posting your view about the situation and providing some resources for info and donating. I’ve stopped watching the media on cable because of how alarmist it sounds.

    • Shingo March 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

      I think not relying on US cable news as a source of accurate information on the situation is a smart move – they seem to be among the most motivated by fearmongering to keep butts in the seats and profit from sensational news. There are plenty of great resources online for varying viewpoints that rely on the best facts available to draw their conclusions (thank goodness).

  3. SbebiWan March 18, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Glad to hear you are ok, and same about the international media, I stopped watching them

    • Shingo March 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

      Good call, in my book. They have a lot to gain from making things worse than they really are. Citizen journalists have been doing a great job providing credible, accurate and sourced information throughout the disaster.

  4. Sydney2K March 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    As you know, I visit your site every day, and since the earthquake and subsequent tsunami and reactor accident, it has been really frustrating to not be able to post out a shout out asking how you are, and to wait for your reply. I am SO glad you’ve posted, and that you are OK.

    Idea for the next article- Akihabara after the ‘quake: is it possible to still be an otaku, or are times too serious for that?

  5. Shingo March 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    Thanks for your concern, and your support. I should have updated here sooner; I need a better/more obvious Twitter widget in the sidebar, I think. Something that stands out more when it’s updated, since that’s where I’ve been doing a lot of posting lately.

    In terms of the topic you suggest, I think ‘being an otaku’ is something that isn’t cast aside in moments of tragedy, loss, struggle and challenge. It’s a viewpoint I carry with me as I look at how people are coping, helping out, and dealing with the changing situation.

    I do hope this glimpse of profound mortality does help people think about who they are and what they’re doing, and what they want. I know it’s made me think a lot about things I haven’t addressed in awhile. This site, for one. It’s a grave moment for assessing personal priorities and deciding what’s important.

    To the extent that decision plays into what it means to be an otaku, I think that is a point worth exploring. There’s a sort of blind consumerism that often comes with otakudom that feels… short-sighted at best at times like these, profligate and shameful at worst. It certainly brings pause. On the other hand, the celebration of shared popular culture, the social networks and togetherness it brings, are just as vital and true as any others.

    The spirit of collaboration and camaraderie and joy that lie at the heart of what I consider to be true otakudom are things that, at times like these, it seems especially important that we foster and preserve.

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