Sunday, March 20, 2011

People Escaping Japan?

I have felt many emotions since last Friday when the big quake hit Japan. I’ve been confused. I’ve been sad. I’ve been grief stricken. I’ve been scared. I’ve been logical. I’ve been thoughtful. I’ve also been pissed off.

That’s right, a few things have made me very angry about the events that have unfolded during the past eight days.
I of course cannot be angry about the actual catastrophe because it was out of the hands of all of us. Mother Nature had a beef to grind and unfortunately the people of Japan had to face the brunt of it.

I can’t be upset at the people of Japan. They did nothing to deserve this. I also cannot be upset at the fact that there were nuclear reactors near the water. There are nuclear reactors in many countries throughout the world and aside from two notable cases; there have never really been major problems with nuclear energy (someof you will probably disagree). There was also a large tsunami wall built in front of the reactor.

Japan, one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world is BY FAR the most prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis. They have building codes unlike anywhere else in the world. They have a tsunami early warning system. They have FREAKIN Nintendo, Sony and Honda robots!

None of this could have prepared them for a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and what we are now finding out, a 15 meter high tsunami in some parts along the coast.

So, I have shared with you that none of these events have made me angry. What does make me angry though is the irrational and sensational coverage of this catastrophe by some news organizations and (mostly) the way some European governments have handled the situation.

I realize that the situation around the nuclear plant in Fukushima is bad. If I were anywhere close to there I would also want to get the “Hell out of Dodge.” Things begun to get a little out of hand when several European countries began telling ALL of their nationals, no matter where they were, to get out of Japan. That was irrational and exaggerated.

Today I listened to the March 17th episode of CBC’s (Canadian Broadcasting Corportation) As It Happens and got more than a little ticked off. I wasn’t angry about the show because I am a HUGE fan of the hosts, Carol Off and Jeff Douglas, but a person they interviewed on yesterday’s show annoyed me.

On the March 17th, 2011 episode (14 minutes into Part 1), a Japanese woman married to a French national was interviewed. Now they had lived in the area close to the Fukushima reactor and were evacuated to Kyoto. I can obviously understand that. What got me was the fact that the woman explained how they were fleeing Japan to France on an emergency flight arranged by the French government because all of Japan was SOOOOOO dangerous! This woman and her family were now in Kyoto and wanted to get further away. She said it was because of the way her husband and all of his French friends felt and the “knowledge” they had of the situation.

This woman, who is also pregnant, said she had to get away from Japan so her baby would not be born deformed! Jeesh!!! Come on!

I can understand this woman being somewhat scared, but her interview was very uncharacteristic compared to most Japanese people I’ve heard interviewed or spoken to in person (I live in Japan and am married to a Japanese person). She explained that she felt this way because of her husband and his French friends in Japan. They were all getting the “Hell out of Dodge”!
Now, I’m not writing this to shit on French nationals or France. I’m pissed off because it is obvious that French media and the government (and many other media organizations) are doing a piss poor job off telling this story accurately.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure that the Japanese media and government are guilty of, at times, underplaying things, but……COME ON!!!!! Let’s not just make shit up!

Most expats living in Japan have very upset families in their native countries. In some cases I can understand. I live very far away from this crisis and do not want my friends and family to worry about me. My Kansai-based friends and I are very safe. Shoddy media reports about Japan cause a lot of concern and worry for our families. That’s why I’m miffed!

Here are a couple of examples of media exaggeration during the past week.

This one is from a British newspaper.

This one is a comparison of the BBC and the Huffington Post.

By the way, I have listened to CBC As It Happens everyday this week (I download their podcast) and I have found they’ve done a fine job covering Japan(I was just miffed about that woman they interviewed).


Hiko said...

Hey man, I play rugby for a french rugby team, I've been dealing with hysterical bullcrap on my team mailing list from day one.

Xant said...

I'm seeing this as over the top too. EVERY American news station is scared and freaking out about possible radiation hitting the west coast of the states (completely forgetting that Hawaii is closer to Japan). They bring countless numbers of Nuclear professionals on, and everyone of them says that the threat is minimal to Americans, and even the rest of Japan. Yet, people are still ignorant to believe that radiation is some sort of plague. My favorite so far is FOX News's "debate" on the subject between a UC Berkley Professor, Ph. D Nuclear Physics, and a Green technologies investor. that makes NO SENSE. A professional v someone biased to Nuclear tech no matter what.

Americans need to start thinking.

Phil said...

Hi. Great article. I too have felt the anger about people, mostly foreigners, who are adopting this 'head for the hills' approach to all of Japan.
The thing that really got me was the reports about how backed up things were in Tokyo at all the visa offices as the foreigners re lining up around the block to get their re-entry visas! Extra staff were having to be put on, in this time of crisis, to deal with people who wanted to get out now, but reserve the right to come back as soon as the Japanese called all clear.
Personally I would have told them, it's a time of crisis we don't have staff to dedicate to you hedging your bets.
But that's just me.

I'm a Canadian who lives in Spain but we also own a house in Kyoto (that I am trying to figure out how to donat ethe uses of to family needing temportary shelter). It always amazes me when, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, people are more willing to believe fox news than the Japanese government. Not trusting the us government I understand!

Anyway, thanks again for your great blog.

Peter Martin said...

To where would everyone go should there be a 10+ quake?

Scroll down to first table.

St John said...

The Sun is a rag for people who can't read. Sadly, there seem to be a lot of such folk here in Britain. But even more responsible media have been feeding us crap. They have been disappointed by the calm of the Japanese people and have been moved to describe the lack of hysteria, looting etc as 'strange'. What the media require is footage of people reacting in the way soap operas have conditioned westerners to behave.