Mar 14th 2011
by H.T. and K.N.C.
SAITAMA AND TOKYO
ONE positive development in the panoply of disasters that has besieged Japan since Friday’s earthquake and tsunami is that the nuclear crisis may gradually be stabilising, experts say. Over the weekend, the threat of a nuclear catastrophe distracted attention from what may turn out to be the far greater human tragedy: a string of towns and villages along hundreds of kilometres of coastline in north-eastern Japan that were buried under water or washed away. Thousands of residents have died. Hundreds of thousands are living in makeshift shelters.
Another positive development is how the government, the defence forces and the famously stoic Japanese people have responded to the disaster. Naoto Kan’s government, which was on its knees a week or two ago, has so far appeared to be on top of the complexities of the nuclear crisis, and its explanations have provided reassurance in a weekend-long nightmare that could easily have descended into panic.
During the 1995 Kobe earthquake the government dithered shockingly from the start, but this time 100,000 troops have been deployed to the stricken areas to lead the search-and-rescue effort. Their work has been hampered by savagely damaged lines of communication, and they have faced some criticism for not focusing more on helping survivors, especially among the elderly and infirm, rather than gathering the dead. Having said that, they are making it through to the worst affected areas, and are airlifting food and supplies to 450,000 evacuees. On March 14th alone, at least 2,000 bodies were found floating in waters off the coast of Miyagi prefecture—though, reportedly, the death toll in one of those places, Minamisanriku, may not be as high as the 10,000 once feared, because many residents escaped. Reports from the area reveal a level of devastation that the government’s fiscal-reform minister, Kaoru Yosano, estimates may cost more than the ¥10 trillion ($120 billion) of the Kobe quake, in which about 6,500 people died. That may be imprecise, however, because industrial Kobe is so different from the rural communities, many of whose inhabitants are pensioners, that have been devastated this time. the rest image
Some Perspective On The Japan Earthquake
I run a small software business in central Japan. Over the years, I’ve worked both in the local Japanese government (as a translator) and in Japanese industry (as a systems engineer), and have some minor knowledge of how things are done here. English-language reporting on the matter has been so bad that my mother is worried for my safety, so in the interests of clearing the air I thought I would write up a bit of what I know...(interesting and informative-PD)