West Meets East: An American in Japan | All Blogs

Back in Action

By Josiah Lebowitz

Well, I’m back in the US and things in Japan… Well, they aren’t really getting any worse. Some of the reactors at the Fukushima plant are still in a dangerous place but they haven’t gotten any worse and they’ve managed to get the cooling systems back online in others so it’s looking like things will be ok. But all the worry about the Fukushima nuclear plant (much of which has been completely unfounded) has pulled attention away from the damage done by the tsunami. And, while the vast majority of Japan wasn’t hit by it, the towns and cities that were are in really bad shape. Some towns are almost completely gone and the death toll is still rising. Remember that if you want to donate you can find a list of trustworthy organizations at http://abcnews.go.com/International/japan-earthquake-donating-relief-funds/story?id=13122660

You have to admire the Japanese people. Despite the death and devastation caused by the tsunami and the worry over the reactors at Fukushima, there has been no looting, no rioting, and no giant masses of people attempting to flee the country (the vast majority of people who left are foreigners, and even many of them stayed). People in the damaged areas wait in long lines for supplies without complaint and people in the rest of the Japan (even in areas relatively close to Fukushima) go about their daily lives. The only problem is that some people started hoarding bottled water, food (rice and bread mostly), and gasoline, causing them to sell out very quickly. But that’s pretty minor. Imagine if a US state was hit with an earthquake, tsunami, or nuclear crisis like Japan is facing. Any single one of those (much less all three) would like lead to widespread rioting and looting.
Heck, we’ve already had a lot of US citizens (especially in California) panicking because they’re worried that radiation from the Fukushima plant will reach the US. Such fears are baseless. Just about every expert (other than ones in die-hard anti-nuclear groups) agree that even in a worst case scenario (which is highly unlikely) there’s unlikely to be serious fallout in areas more than a short distance away from the plant. Even news reports of radiation detected in Tokyo and in food grown near the plant aren’t a real cause for concern. Sure the headlines sound bad, but if you actually read the articles and look at the numbers, you’ll see that there’s nothing to worry about. You can be exposed all day every day for a year to the highest radiation levels detected more than a short distance away from the plant and you’d still be within the range of radiation that the average person in a modern country is exposed to as part of normal life. And even the worst of the contaminated food and water would only be a problem if you ingest enormous amounts of it every day. And if the vast majority of Japan has nothing to worry about, you can be sure that the US is perfectly safe.

But enough of that. I’ll be resuming my regular update schedule starting tomorrow and plan to keep it up for a while whether I get the opportunity to return to Japan soon or not.


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