3/11:The Fallout

3/11:The Fallout
Just what the heck is going on?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Life Without Buildings

CAPTION: Former U.S. Navy Quartermaster Jaime Plym discusses her health issues stemming from radiation exposure while serving on the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier during aid and rescue missions following Japan's devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami, at a December 2012 news conference in New York.

This is Winston Saint, and I am back. That's the good news. The bad news is that because of health and work reasons, I may not be able to write complete blog posts. If you find a list of links, with brief explanations, please don't be surprised. We're all doing the best we can.

First, more good news. Here is some information regarding the gradual shift of the affected Tohoku regions towards self-government and Temporary Autonomous Zones (see Hakim Bey). Toyo Ito, the architect who has been working to help rehouse the suffering people of Tohoku, has just been awarded the 2013 Pritzker Prize (a kind of Nobel Prize for architecture). His "Minna no Ie" project in the northern region of Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, attempts to come to terms with a decentralized form of social organization that can adapt to any threat from future natural disasters.

For details, go here. 

The number of lawsuits filed against TEPCO and the Japanese government is on the increase, with American citizens getting in on the act.

For details, go here. 

Now, more bad news. On Monday March 18th a report was released, looking into the projected effects of a major seismic event (on the scale of 3/11) hitting the capital, as it did on Sep 1st 1923. It's quite sobering.

For details, go here. 

What exactly does 'catastrophic collapse' mean? One case in point is the bluefin tuna industry. "Maguro", "Chutoro" and "Toro" are the backbone of the Japanese sushi industry, and scientists have calculated Asian fleets have fished the species to the point of extinction. Over the last few years media, politicians and scientists have pronounced the approaching end of the bluefin tuna, but unconcerned consumers have just kept guzzling away, and demand for the sashimi just keeps going up. Should the public be worried? Is this just another false alarm? Should we just ignore it and head on down to the kaitenzushi and keep stuffing our faces? Or are we about to witness the first of the great extinctions?

For details, go here. 

"The lessons of March 11th, 2011, have not only not been learned; they have been summarily ignored."
(Roger Pulvers writing in Counterpoint, Japan Times, March 24th 2013).

Feel helpless? Think there's nothing you can do about it? Well there is. 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Please Stand By

This is Winston Saint, and I am mentally and physically exhausted after the stress of last Monday. I shall return, but in the meanwhile, I would be extremely grateful if you could leave a comment.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

3/11: Two Years After

 IMAGES: Tohoku 1 month, I year, and 2 years after 3/11. Courtesy of Kyodo press. 

Just after the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown of March 11, 2011, support, helpers and prayers flooded in from the international community. The world was shocked by the scale of the destruction.
As the dust settled and the immediate danger and panic subsided, there was talk of a Japanese renaissance. We hoped that Japan would rise from the ashes, as it had done before. There was hope that the different political factions in the government would put aside their squabbles and unite to lead the nation out of its trauma. We hoped that Japan would now turn away from nuclear power, and lead the world in the search for renewable energy resources.
We were wrong. 
In Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, as of Feb 22nd 2013, only 41% of the estimated 619,000 tons of tsunami debris has been cleared from the disaster zone. At least 157,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Fukushima because of radioactive contamination. 32,000 are currently living in temporary housing structures in the same prefecture. 59,000 live in subsidized apartments, where the rent if free but the utilities are not. TEPCO is deliberately delaying the final compensation settlements, permanent housing has not yet been built, and the land inside the contaminated zone will be uninhabitable for decades. 
In fact, the families from that area are now saying that they will never return; they know that while they wait, the houses will get more and more dilapidated until they decay and collapse, so there will be nothing to return to (but they are still paying mortgages on those houses). Hence, a large number of those evacuees are currently filing lawsuits against TEPCO and the government.

During the last two years, hundreds of thousands of people have attended huge anti-nuclear rallies in Tokyo and other parts of Japan. The government ignored them. Rallies are still held on a weekly basis (every Friday) outside the Diet buildings and Prime Minister's residence in Nagatacho. With the right-wing nationalists now back in power, the government will try to restart the nuclear power program as soon as it can, regardless of safety concerns. The weekly rallies will get smaller and smaller from now on, because the protesters are failing to take the next logical step; walk through the barriers, through the lines of police in riot gear, and into the Prime Minister's residence, and occupy it. There are far more protesters than there are police; it is possible, but not probable. There is still the sense of the self-restraint (jishuku) that the foreign media lauded the Japanese for two years ago when the crisis was at its height. 

And so, on the eve of March 11th, please allow us here at Excalibur to once more outline the objectives of "3/11:The Fallout".

1) We support the right of the people of Tohoku in their search for justice, self-sufficiency, and ultimately self-government, breaking away from the Tokyo-based metropolitan policies which are slowing them down. 

2) To achieve this aim, Excalibur is trying to raise public awareness in Japan and the rest of the world. Please remember that the only time Japan has gone though major social changes, it was as a result of outside influences - for example, at the end of the Edo period, and at the end of World War II. We need foreign help, foreign volunteers, and foreign investors, because the Japanese government is going to sit here and do nothing until the country withers away and dies.

3) Also to achieve this aim, the Tohoku people need funds. Please, please consider buying a copy of "3/11:The Fallout". The money will go to Kizuna Foundation, Impact Japan, and the Tomodachi Initiative, who will distribute it to where it's needed most. (those charities are affiliated to foreign embassies, NOT the Japanese government).

For news of 3/11 and how it has been interpreted in fiction, go here.

For famed naturalist C.W. Nicol and his take on 3/11, go here.

To buy a copy of "3/11: The Fallout", go here

Good luck; and please, for our sake, don't ever forget. 

This has been Winston Saint reporting, March 10th, 2013. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A Message to the Nation

3/11:The Fallout. Why does this book exist?

Or to be more precise, why is it necessary for this book to exist?

Next Monday will be the second commemoration of the 3/11 triple disaster. Today, as we look around Japan, we see a country that has still not recovered.  Instead of the rival political parties uniting to help their traumatized people recover, the hard right engaged in a vicious slanging match with the ruling party, and kicked them out at the recent general election.

Two years of bureaucratic wrangling have resulted in large areas of northern Japan still barren and empty because reconstruction efforts have been stalled. Thousands of families are still living in temporary shelters in Iwate, Fukushima, and Miyagi, waiting for benefits that are slow to arrive, and sometimes never arrive at all. The agricultural and residential land contaminated by radiation will remain off limits for decades.

The nationalists that control Japan’s government are taking steps to maintain their own power as the nation’s economy enters a permanent decline. The Japanese media want to avoid discussion and confrontation, and carry on with their main business of selling mindless pop culture fluff. A large part of help for the Tohoku communities is coming from outside the region, because the area’s infrastructure is chronically understaffed.

All proceeds – and we do mean all proceeds from the sale of this book – will go to international charities committed to the rebuilding and renaissance of northern Japan. This book is looking for moral support for Tohoku – practical suggestions, not “Pray for Japan” platitudes. This book is looking for foreign investors willing to lend a hand to Tohoku residents – because the Japanese politicians are too busy fighting among themselves to care about their own people.

This book is not an easy read. It’s the stinging gadfly, the thorn in the flesh, the fly in the ointment, the spanner in the works. It shouldn’t have to exist. But it does.

And you’re going to keep hearing about it.