Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan - The place to be during a disaster.

Efforts today continued at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima to cool down the reactors that are in danger of meltdown.  Helicopter drops have continued throughout the day; but due to radiation they are keeping quite a distance away; even the casual observer would doubt that they are having much effect.  The new approach has been to use high-pressure water cannon trucks from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, water cannons that are presumably kept for possible use in ... riot control!  The drivers are said to be using radiation suits and safety equipment on loan from the self-defense force.  For good reason.  According to Yukio Edano, Chief Cabinet Secretary, "It has been difficult to make a decision to spray water from the ground, due to the radiation."  Then on the 7pm news it was announced that police had given up the water cannon operation because of high radiation and were 'seeking shelter'.  Luckily I was wearing brown-coloured underpants at the time, because that idea seemed to be last hope.  Then finally, just a few minutes ago they announced that operations had in fact started, and that water was being sprayed upon the reactor.  Only time will tell how that goes.

I would suggest one thing.  I'm guessing those workers are getting overtime pay.  Maybe even time-and-a-half, huh?

Meanwhile the atmosphere in Yokohama is one of high anxiety.  In my workplace several teachers have already left or are in the process of leaving the city.  Myself, I think I'll stay and watch the show.  At least until I start glowing.

Japan is certainly the place you want to be during a disaster.  Courtesy remains the rule rather than the exception.  Supermarkets are full of orderly queues and issue profuse apologies about their bare shelves.  With few people under the age of 50, there's nobody to loot.  Convenience stores are open during blackouts, going through the transactions by hand while the staff apologise for being unable to offer you a receipt and say 'there is no excuse for our terrible behaviour'.  Not only that, but the public is cooperating with the authorities.  For example, for the last few days there has been a request to cut down on electricity use to minimise the possiblility of blackouts, and the public actually seems to be doing this.  Stores and restaurants are only half-lit, while my wife has refused to use the heater today, while outside there is a noteable dearth of well-lit houses.  It's impossible to imagine such civility back home during a crisis; in Australia it is every man for himself, and as for America, demonstrations are so common you are allowed to riot if your football team wins. 

Japanese people wearing the latest 'nuclear radiation proof' facemasks

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