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Sunday, October 30, 2011

What's A Government To Do?

I like to get up on my ivory soapbox every once in a while and ponder things. It's not something I take lightly as I find I ponder quite a bit when I'm doing a mindless activity like watching television or sitting in a car or on public transportation. Don't worry, I'm still very much aware of where I am and who is around me.

It's a gift,  I suppose, because I know many people who don't take the time to have a good ponder. I know, because I ask them.

I ponder quite a bit on this blog and on the other blogs I create. I try to see both sides of a given situation and then, if not plot out a course of action, plot out a course of inaction. Like any good government. I suppose it's why along with being a journalism graduate I am also a graduate in political science... or rather more specifically, the psychological behavior of political science... why people behave the way they do, and how to manipulate people to do what you want.

It's all just stuff to ponder, however, because I don't dare put into action any of my own manipulations in my own personal life. For that, I'd have to be a real prick. And while I have no doubt that I could be one should I choose to be one, I don't think I want to be one.

So what's a writer to do? I investigate and then I write about things. I try to make sense of what's going on knowing full well I am never privy to 100 per cent of the information I fully requite to make an informed decision. I do my best, however, knowing that other people and organizations like to keep things a secret - play their cards close to their vest, as it were.

So... let's look at what is going on in Japan.

It seems that while it is okay to farm next year, soil contamination levels show radiation in the soil, but that washing will remove most of it from the crop and that it is within Japan's safe parameters for radiation ingestion.

However... other reports say there are stupid high levels of contamination in the soil - even outside the 30-kilometer evacuation zone.

Also... Japan has opened schools in the forbidden zone (I'm calling it that), but since radiation is still high in those areas, outside activities are limited to two hours a day... causing many parents to drive their kids to school... fearing they will exceed the two-hour level if they have to make the 30-minute walk (each-way) to school when factoring in possible school activities.

What about livestock? What about people's homes? Their cars, toys, clothing, etc.? Will everything have to be destroyed and replaced? Cleansed well? Has this information been passed down to the people it affects? If not, when will it be?

Meanwhile... the evacuation zone still exists.

I hate that so many people - some 60,000 people were displaced from their family homes. That jobs were lost, people got sick, perhaps even died (I'm talking earthquake and tsunami damage for the deaths - though there were deaths at the Dai-ichi nuclear facility) - these are all facts.

I'm not saying that Japan and its population glows with a radioactive pallor. It doesn't.

Prolonged exposure to radiation is the main concern. What can be done about it? It must be a concern, else why limit outside activities at school to two hours? This may simply be a preventative measure on behalf of the Japanese government.

But, no one in the government is really saying anything.

And that is the problem.

Provide updates. Don't be afraid to tell people the news - any news. It is better than fear-mongering. People just want to know, one way or the other, when or if, they can expect to get some normalcy back in their life.

It's not a question of "how safe is my town?", rather it should be "Is my town safe?"

I know that as of 2011 we know a fair bit about radiation and it's effects on the human body. Then again... we certainly don't know everything.

There are people out there who believe that radiation is actually beneficially to the human body - that it can kick start our immune system into an over-drive whereby it will not only adequately handle the increased dosage of radiation, but will help the body fight off other illnesses or diseases. Is this a real deal? No one knows for sure, but people are willing to build the Hotel Radiation in Fukushima-ken (where fall-out was the heaviest) to test that theory.

Look at that statement. People are willing to put their own money up to have human guinea pigs come and test out a theory. It's like 'screw the laboratory! Let's play god.'

I don't know how mankind can play god when it's not all that good at playing man. Seriously... just because your country lacks the natural resources to use for electrical power generation (IE hydro-electric), or lacks a lot of forestry, coal, gas or oil - let's build nuclear power plants. Let's build something that, if not handled correctly could cause more radiation damage than anything ever suffered at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Why Japan chose to go nuclear as the best way to create electrical power after the horrors of two atomic bombings is beyond me, and smacks of irony.

My did the government at the time (or the government of now) seek an alternative to nuclear power - perhaps using it for a short-term solution until the perhaps more expensive long-tern solution could be found and utilized?

Why build nuclear reactors in a country located in the Ring of Fire, so named because of all of the volcanic activity is spews? And earthquakes? How often does an earthquake shake bits of Japan? Several small ones can be felt every single day in Tokyo, with 10s more deep underground. While earthquakes are believed to have a relationship with volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes can often cause tsunami, why would you want to build a power generating source on a highly temperamental geography. And I haven't even mentioned any of the five-plus typhoons that smack into the country ever year at around the F4 or F5 strength.

Hell, I don't even want to talk about the mental anguish being felt by the people who after seven months since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that came with March 11, 2011 are still suffering in uncertainty.

I know how stressed I was after a house fire... and was displaced for 10 months. At least I knew that I had a home to go back to. These displaced people don't even know that.&

I propose that Japan's government is dragging its heels in releasing data to the populace, but it is doing so because it wants to make sure. There is no use in saying that things are okay, and then two months later having to rescind that statement.

Even then... it needs to provide a decontamination clean-up, along with the rebuilding of facilities damaged by the earthquake and tsunami.

It needs to start rebuilding lives.

Somewhere on my Mister Sparkle soapbox,

Andrew Joseph
PS: As for an energy solution, I still say geo-thermal might be a way. Earthquakes are a concern, but not if it's done off-shore. I've been saying it for 21 years when I first set foot in Japan and learned my television was being powered by a nuclear reactor, and I'm saying it today.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Sir,
    The government of Japan welcomes your input and thank you from the deepest parts of our hearts that you have so graciously taken the time to inform us of your concerns.
    Please be aware that we are currently investigating the situation that you refer to and are considering setting up a special committee to consider it further.
    As always, we thank you for your time and most kind consideration.
    Ministry of Special Committee Formulation
    Government of Japan
    Nagatacho, Tokyo, Japan