Is there anyone who doesn’t know where Fukushima is now?

It’s already over a week since the earthquake, tsunami and news of a possible nuclear meltdown gripped the world. Who would have thought it possible in a developed, modern, rich country such as Japan, for mother nature to cause so much destruction and despair. Its very humbling. I have never cried so much this week while watching the news. The photos, YouTube videos and stories are devastating, peppered with a few heroic moments with just a few positive endings.

The status as of Sunday, 20th March is:

  • 500,000 people in shelters – they have little food, no heating and the elderly, after surviving the earthquake and tsunami, are dying
  • The official death toll is over 7,000, with another 10,000 approx missing (approx 6,000 people died in the Kobe earthquake)
  • Fukushima’s nuclear reactor meltdown has been increased to a level 5 emergency and talk of encasing the reactors in concrete is being suggested
  • 2 of the Fukushima ‘50″ are missing, many are injured from explosions at the plant
  • Tokyo, Japan’s hub of commerce and with population of 30mil is enduring power shortages, public transport stoppages, food queues and repeated aftershocks
  • Expats and tourists are clearing out, taking their families as far as possible away, while locals are without petrol and basic necessities to get out of the radiation zone
  • Worldwide most people can now pinpoint these cities on an atlas: Fukushima, Sendai, Rikuzentakata, Kamaishi, although these cities now barely exist or are uninhabitable

This is a country that has been brought to its knees by mother nature but the situation has been exasperated by lack of initiative and action from the government and individuals alike. The Japanese are wonderful people but their society is very different if you compare it with, say, Australia or American society for example. Japanese people seek direction from authority, rely on it. Both Japanese government and business like to hold meetings, lots of meetings and lots of discussion before they make a decision. Japanese people respect and obey authority, they obey the government like a well behaved child obeys its always correct father.

Unfortunately, the government is missing in action in many of the devastated cities and towns along the 500km stretch of coastline that has been decimated by last weeks’ events.  There has been no time for meetings, people have been cut off from one another due to lack of petrol, blocked roads, telecommunication outages and wiped out cities.

There is no doubt the Japanese Government has let the Japanese people down, the fact that the Emperor was asked to speak publicly shows just how inadequate their response to this disaster has been thus far. The fact that they allowed this nuclear power plant to be built without a emergency evacuation plan for its surrounding residents astounds me.

It is now up to the Japanese people to act, to save their country, to rebuild and to elect a government that plans for the worst case scenario and if and when that scenario happens can co-ordinate a speedy, appropriate, response.

Japan and the Japanese people will never be the same, but that could be a good thing.

Nihon ganbatte ne! Good luck Japan, you can do it!


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