Thursday, October 10, 2019

Sudden Sayōnara (Nuclear Stupidity)

さようなら (Sayōnara) is Japanese for Goodbye.

Too many people in Japan are essentially captive - not only to natural disasters, but to continuing stupidity that should be criminal. Visitors expecting Rugby World Cup or Tokyo Olympic adventures must also recognize threats: typhoon, earthquake, fires, tsunami, flooding, diseases, stupidity...

Consider the continuing fallout from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake & tsunami -- a high-cost super-disaster not yet over.

The TEPCO (東京電力 Tokyo Electric Power Company) nuclear accident at their Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Fukushima Prefecture was preventable: Significant human error was largely responsible (link). The Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant (女川原子力発電所) was closer to the earthquake epicenter, exposed to similar stresses, yet shutdown successfully (different operator = Tohoku Electric Power Company). Somehow, TEPCO escaped justice & has evaded responsibility to wholly pay for ongoing fallout. "Fukushima" is a damaged brand outside the TEPCO service area. The local governments and towns that allowed TEPCO reactor construction are depopulated due to mandatory evacuation (Fukushim'sa nuclear plants are outside TEPCO's service area). In the worst-hit Red Zone, TEPCO uses euphemism: "Difficult-to-return zone, 帰還困難区域" = Death Zone. Nobody speaks of corruption. 

People still need to move around the damaged region. The Fukushima Nukeway (link) is a portion of the Jōban Expressway (常磐自動車道) passing through the irradiated zone. Fourteen months after opening, disaster struck during Japan's Golden Week travels (4 May 2016): a car collided head-on with a bus in the radiation danger zone (link). The 40 bus passengers, including children, waited two hours without masks on the radiation-zone roadside for treatment / rescue; the car passengers died at the spot. 

Problems are widespread everywhere, but you likely don't hear the worst of Japan's embarrassments. Typhoon Hagibis (台風19号) hit Japan this week, and killed 75+ people. Does that number include the Fukushima lady dropped 40 meters during helicopter rescue (link)? At least one Tokyo evacuation center turned away homeless people during the storm -- which is surely unkind but also life-threatening (two such people survived, link). Many people in Japan now criticize such incidents, but it's too little, too late. Nobody criticized bureaucracy when the suffering were turned away, and now one homeless person is confirmed dead.

There's been insufficient global attention to Japan's improper storage of contaminated nuclear waste from TEPCO's Fukushima nuclear disaster. Do YOU know about the bad storage conditions, and that unknown quantities of once-collected radioactive waste now pollute the wider environment? (link to article here) Welcome to the Land of Rising Radiation.

he lesson here is simple: Japan can't take care of you. Enjoy the beautiful countryside, great people, rich culture, but beware of Japan's many repeated disasters. You must PREPARE - or prepare to die.