Japan’s disaster as reported by Expat Bloggers

Deserted streets and chaos. Tragedy and plum trees blooming

BFP’s Robert remembers Japan and finds some bloggers on the ground.

Many of our regular readers know that there was a time in my life when I visited Japan weekly. That was years ago but Tokyo’s Narita airport is still my second favourite airport in the world. I’ve staged through Narita more than a hundred times and every final approach was a challenge to keep my concentration centered on the task at hand because, for all the faults (and there is one fault in particular that enrages me), I love Japan and the Japanese.

I love the way they revere their parents and ancestors. I love their funeral services, their movies, their music. I love that there is no looting in the aftermath of the earthquakes and tsunami. Anyone who’s visited Japan for more than a week won’t be at all surprised.

Last December we published a photo of some Japanese school children trying out their English on a passing tourist. I wonder where they are now, if they are alive, if they are in need. Nothing I can do for them, but I’m on the internet all the time these past few days and I’ve met some new friends.

Sometimes the big picture is too large, too impersonal. Sometimes we lose perspective if we only focus on the big picture. Sometimes the truth is not a large truth, but becomes apparent only in consideration as the sum of many smaller truths.

Let me share with you some of my new friends on the net. The international news organisations tell one truth. These folks tell smaller stories, smaller truths, that need to be heard…

Tokyo Times

“And, for a city that can certainly be very frosty, it’s noticeably more friendly. Nods, smiles and the odd konichi-wa are suddenly commonplace, with a definite feeling of, ‘we are all in this together’, now prominent.

Plus, where once the presence of others would be merely put up with, it’s now happily embraced — sought out even.”

Japan Probe

“Good lord. Look at the crap they’re reporting in the Sun:

Mass exodus from Tokyo

A MASS exodus from Tokyo is under way as those left behind pray for the wind to save them from a new radiation nightmare.

The airport of Japan’s quake-hit capital was besieged as levels of the invisible killer soared to ten times the normal level there.

And that was before a FOURTH explosion and a fire at a stricken nuclear plant sparked fresh terror – that of a poison cloud of nuclear rain.

The leaking station was officially abandoned this morning after radiation levels around the plant “increased rapidly”.

Other international media sources are reporting similar stories of the masses fleeing from Tokyo. They based on internet hearsay or interviews with foreign residents of Japan.

Reality check:

There is no “mass exodus” being reported anywhere in the Japanese media. According to the Wall Street Journal, the only people rushing to the airport to flee the country are foreigners. (Could it have to do with the fact that they’re getting their information from sources like the Sun?)”

Expat in Japan

“From what I could tell from my convenience store survey this morning, there are still empty shelves.  To the left is the same store I took pictures of yesterday.  You can see some boxed lunches still available.

As for the local grocery store, best be close to first in line when it opens.  They allow 30 or 40 people in at a time then others can come in as the first group leaves.  Milk, eggs, bread, rice.. all go quickly.   By mid-afternoon shelves were once again bare.”

Jenn in Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami – The Reality

“I feel like there is nothing more I can say except, please HELP Japan!

I know you are hearing the same thing over and over but it is because these people are in a desperate state. The horror and grief that has befallen this country in unfathomable.

Imagine every aspect of your life, your world entire, being literally swept away in front of your eyes and you are utterly helpless. I assure you this is not hysterics but a truly dire situation; I mean that with every ounce of gravity I can put into these words.”

Geisha Interrupted

Then the train stops abruptly.

I first assume that we hit something, or a suicidal someone, which happens more often than we like to talk about in this country.  At the same time I grasp the unlikelihood that a suicidal someone could wander this far underground, it becomes very apparent that our train did not flatten anything else.  Rather, this train is the one getting its ass kicked by a force much larger.

“Train operation has stopped because of an earthquake,” the voice of the conductor says. Umm, we know, I think to myself as the other passengers and I hold onto our seats.

“Train operation has stopped because of a strong earthquake,” the loudspeaker again proclaims the obvious.

“Train operation has stopped because of a very strong earthquake,” he says again after the shaking still hasn’t stopped.

Where Mr. Fuji meets Matterhorn (200 hours of overtime per month)

“This young 24-year-old man had entered a Yokohama-based plant maintenance firm in April 2007. He was then assigned to an office in Chiba as a construction site supervisor. The news paper articles says that due to a labor shortage and a delay in the construction schedule, he was forced to work an average of 123 hours of overtime per month between January and August 2008, with his overtime topping 200 hours in July.

He developed a mental disorder, resulting in suicide in November afterwards. The issue in this case is that the company and its labor union had agreed to allow its employees to work up to 150 hours of overtime per month, or up to 200 hours if necessary.”

Shoot Tokyo

“Tokyo has a very strange vibe to it right now.   I have never experienced something like this before.   There is a lot of concern with people about what is going on with the nuclear reactors.  There is a lot of misinformation flying around and people are concerned if they are being told everything or which news reports to listen to.   A lot of the facts and figures being thrown around are difficult for people to digest and understand adding to the confusion and concern.   Trains continue to run at limited capacity.   Tokyo Electric Power is running rolling blackouts across Japan”


Filed under Barbados, Disaster, Energy, Environment

9 responses to “Japan’s disaster as reported by Expat Bloggers

  1. sunny

    buts it ok when u extract right wing propaganda about islam from the sun and tabloid sensationalist media like it.

  2. just want to know

    why not let us just pray for the people of Japan; whether we are Jews, Christians Moslems, whatever your religion, let us pray for these people, they don’t want a lot of crap talked about, they want our help and God’s blessings.

  3. Green Monkey

    Thom Hartmann & Greg Palast: Is Tokyo Power going to build reactors in TX?

  4. Straight talk

    The future may well be nuclear – but possibly thorium, not radioactive plutonium.
    Always remember that since the advent of wind generators, there have been 35 more times the deaths than attributable to nuclear accidents.

    TEPCO is to nuclear generation as Halliburton, KBR and Xe is to war profiteering.
    Bogus inspections, government protection and no oversight: such is life in our corporatocracy ( the actual dictionary definition of which is – fascism ).

    Sounds alien to us in Barbados, until we recognise the similarities with our own local problem – CLICO.

    The world’s economy is so intertwined that the seemingly insignificant stress at any point can cause a major meltdown of the whole shebang.

    As it is , we have Japan one of the largest creditor nations about to withdraw billions of its global investments to fund post tsunami rebuilding.

    North African revolution and dissent spreading to the fragile oil producers of the gulf, with Iran a willing backer to the Shiite majorities in the Sunni controlled oil producing regions.

    America , crippled by QE2 with more “easing” to come (some say $170 trillion will be necessary).

    Oil set to stay above $100 per barrel for the forseeable future, and in a major crisis at least doubling in price.

    No recovery has ever, or can/will ever begin with this level of energy cost.

    But hey, lets discuss Jolly Roger, Chefette and Leroy Lynch …. put fingers in our ears and scream “La La La La La”.

  5. The man wiv no name!!

    Rob, “you love Japan and the Japanese”, thus you’ve forgiven them their WW2 atrocities! That being said, to build SIX nuclear reactors beside each other beggars belief! Anyhow, in the interests of clarity, is there any people who you DON’T like? Would be interesting to know. We might even agree with you!

  6. Green Monkey

    Straight talk wrote:
    TEPCO is to nuclear generation as Halliburton, KBR and Xe is to war profiteering.
    Bogus inspections, government protection and no oversight: such is life in our corporatocracy ( the actual dictionary definition of which is – fascism )

    Apparently the cartoon pictures we see of penny pinching Mr. Burns, bumbling Homer Simpson along with his friends, the Karls and Lennys, running Springfield’s nuclear power plant are not without some basis in reality – only when it happens in real life it is no longer a joke.

    As per investigative journalsist Greg Palast:

    Am I on some kind of xenophobic anti-Nippon crusade? No. In fact, I’m far more frightened by the American operators in the South Texas nuclear project, especially Shaw. Stone & Webster, now the Shaw nuclear division, was also the firm that conspired to fake the EDG tests in New York . (The company’s other exploits have been exposed by their former consultant, John Perkins, in his book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.”) If the planet wants to shiver, consider this: Toshiba and Shaw have recently signed a deal to become worldwide partners in the construction of nuclear stations.

    The other characters involved at the South Texas Plant that Obama is backing should also give you the willies. But as I’m in the middle of investigating the American partners, I’ll save that for another day.

    So, if we turned to America’s own nuclear contractors, would we be safe? Well, two of the melting Japanese reactors, including the one whose building blew sky high, were built by General Electric of the Good Old US of A.

    After Texas, you’re next. The Obama administration is planning a total of $56 billion in loans for nuclear reactors all over America.


  7. The man wiv no name!!

    Rob, was that question too difficult for you?!!

  8. The man wiv no name!!

    Sorry for making u think harder than usual Rob, and sorry also that u couldn’t handle it!

  9. If you’re interested in helping (I know I was after the countless videos that left me feeling hollow on the inside), a friend of mine, and a Barbadian artist, has released a limited edition print, all proceeds going towards the Red Cross’s efforts in Japan. Please spread the word even if you can’t help money wise 🙂