My Observations On Northern Japan And Foreign Media Coverage
OK, a lot of friends and family are e-mailing about conditions here in Japan. I personally am in Osaka. Things are more or less normal down here. For me, the short-term worry is shortages and rising prices of goods. Long-term I worry about radiation leaking into ground water and contaminating food supplies.
A lot of people ask me about who and what to believe from the media. I take it as a matter of course that any government will at the very least downplay any disaster. We’ve seen it with the Gulf oil spill and Katrina in the US. I personally assume it’s worse than the rosiest veiwpoint, but not as bad as the gloomiest.
As I’m typing this, Japanese TV is showing people in Sendai who are trying to get messages to friends and family in Japan. Phone service up there is very very bad. I’m seeing how there are severe shortages of water, food, gas, and kerosene for heating stoves. The foreign media seems to focus on the nuclear aspect of this disaster. I have a theory as to why this is. First, the Japanese government doesn’t want to cause a panic here in Japan, so they are more than willing to encourage the media to broadcast feel-good and hardship stories. Second, we have all seen the aftereffects of natural disasters almost ad nauseam in the last few years. Katrina, Haiti, China, the Indian Ocean Tsunami. But this nuclear disaster, especially the severity, is new. We’ve never seen this before, let alone so close to the largest city in the world. Third, there is a culture and language barrier. I think it’s easier for foreign media to invite nuclear experts into the studio than send reporters into the field. Especially given the radiation danger.
Ok, let’s be real. I’m sitting here in Osaka. I haven’t been watching the news all that much. It’s sad, scary, and 24/7. I really have no idea what is happening up there. All I can do is speculate. I am by no means fluent in Japanese. These are my personal reflections on what is going on. I would welcome any comments and different points of view. Tell me what you think.