Who to believe? The Western media? The Japanese media? Maybe some media outlet in the Middle East! Well, no matter what turns your channel, there are definitely a lot of angry folks with something to say about the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant drama unfolding before our very eyes.
Daniel Kahl writes: “I am relating a message from the people of Japan to new services around the world — STOP THE HYSTERIA. You are causing panic amongst the foreign community in Japan by exaggerating the situation at the Fukushima #1 Nuclear Power Plant. Listen to your own nuclear experts, and get back the job of reporting on the humanitarian crisis evolving in North Japan.” Check out his video below:
In his second video, “An Appeal for Moral Support,” Kahn relays: “Things have calmed down considerably in Japan compared to a couple of days ago. What the folks here need now is your moral support.” See the video below:
I agree with Kahl’s opinion that moral support is needed but it is not enough! Why are people relying on the media? Is it because the TEPCO boss is AWOL? Is it due to a leadership vacuum? Of course, media should be held accountable, especially outlets, journalists and reporters that disseminate information to inform, sway, or indoctrinate the masses. But accountability is difficult when you are fighting for rating, isn’t it?! Whatever it is, Charlie Brooker gives a pretty good spin on things:
Charlie Brooker on the Media’s Japan / Fukushima coverage. Property of Channel4 (I guess..) but everyone should have a chance to see this.
Now, in an NPR article, Japan Reports Progress In Stabilizing Nuclear Plant, it was reported the Government of Japan admitted mistakes were made:
“Fuel, food and water remain scarce for a 10th day in the disaster. The government in recent days has acknowledged being caught ill-prepared by an enormous disaster that the prime minister has called the worst crisis since World War II and that required an immediate, full-scale response.
In the latest admission, a nuclear safety official said the government was caught off-guard by the accident’s severity and only belatedly realized the need to give potassium iodide to those living within 12 miles of the nuclear complex.
The pills help reduce the chances of thyroid cancer, one of the diseases that may develop from radiation exposure. The official, Kazuma Yokota, said an explosion at the plant’s Unit 3 reactor last Sunday should have triggered the distribution. But the order only came three days later.
“We should have made this decision and announced it sooner,” Yokota told reporters at the emergency command center in the city of Fukushima. “It is true that we had not foreseen a disaster of these proportions. We had not practiced or trained for something this bad. We must admit that we were not fully prepared.” Source
Not a good sign, is it? Well, in an Japan Times article by Eric Johnston, “Foreign media take flak for fanning fears – Sensationalist reports spark debate on timid domestic press, he reports on the “journalist wall of shame” which has about 70 stories relating to the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis, that was created to” inspire reporting that is factually accurate and less speculative and sensationalist.” Was all of it sensationalist or was it based on previous incidents?
Keiko Kanai, an associate professor of journalism and mass media at Kinki University in Osaka and a former wire service reporter, said foreign media are more pessimistic than their Japanese counterparts about the danger of radiation, and are making more of an effort to include a greater variety of sources.
“Japanese media coverage seems to have led readers and viewers to be extremely skeptical of the degree of reliability of reported information,” Kanai said. “This is because Japan’s media almost solely depend on the prime minister’s office and Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator) for information, because it’s likely Tepco hasn’t revealed everything they know, and because the Japanese media has been playing down the gravity of the situation because they don’t want to fan people’s fears. This is why they keep repeating the phrase ‘no harm to one’s health’ over and over,” she said.
All in all, I think the wall of shame is great. Maybe it and other mediums (during or after the recovery phase of this disaster) can be used not only to blast the media but also to cast cyber-stones at a certain Japanese politician for his often racist and xenophobic remarks about foreigners, derogatory commercials aired in Japan (don’t know? I have a few posted here on BT), the GOJ for ignoring parental rights of foreign fathers and mothers and other issues that impact ALL that live in Japan. I sense an economic revival for Japan. Hopefully a political and social revival will emerge as well!
Since I am on revivals, this next article via Josh Marshall in the article, Taking Stock, via the TPM Editors Blog says:
“Accurate, unbiased information is crucial in these crises. I was in Chiba when the first explosion at reactor number 1 took place and the lack of information from TEPCO and the government in the first few hours led to speculation that made all of us in Japan fear for our lives. But information was soon forthcoming that allowed me and all Japanese to more rationally evaluate the situation. There were―and are–still problems with getting information in Japan, but even the Prime Minister has publicly criticized TEPCO for keeping information secret and the Japanese media―as one can tell from the sometimes painfully long press conferences at TEPCO and elsewhere―are largely doing their job and asking the right questions.”
Well, I guess that I can throw in a FUBAR or SNAFU acronym in here somewhere because the 3/11 quake and subsequent tsunami caught everyone off-guard. Now I know that one can plan for an earthquake but I think that I am safe to say that the humongous tsumani that followed was unexpected. With that said, the average person would want news of the incident(s), the people / place impacted and what the plan of action will be, that is, if there is a plan.The Japanese have had to deal with a climate of distrust when it comes to “incidents” also known as, “accidents,” in Japan. As shown in this piece from Bloomberberg:
The unfolding disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant follows decades of falsified safety reports, fatal accidents and underestimated earthquake risk in Japan’s atomic power industry.
The destruction caused by last week’s 9.0 earthquake and tsunami comes less than four years after a 6.8 quake shut the world’s biggest atomic plant, also run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. In 2002 and 2007, revelations the utility had faked repair records forced the resignation of the company’s chairman and president, and a three-week shutdown of all 17 of its reactors.
It was reported by an engineer that orchestrated the cover-up that the vessel that holds the fuel rods in the core of the No. 4 reactor at Fukushima’s Dai-Ichi plant, hit by explosion and fire after the tsunami was damaged in the production process. It was also learned that:
“Tokyo Electric in 2002 admitted it had falsified repair reports at nuclear plants for more than two decades. Chairman Hiroshi Araki and President Nobuyama Minami resigned to take responsibility for hundred of occasions on which the company had submitted false data to the regulator.
Then in 2007, the utility said it hadn’t come entirely clean five years earlier. It had concealed at least six emergency stoppages at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station and a “critical” reaction at the plant’s No. 3 unit that lasted for seven hours.”
I should end by saying that I doubt 8,000 USFJ military families, countless expatriates living and working in Japan and some Japanese Nationals “fled” Japan or relocated further south due to sensationalist stories. I bet many left due to the overall reporting, lack of a clear message and governments / agencies openly disagreeing with the message(s) that the GOJ disseminated. Maybe you didn’t understand the message because it was not in your target language.
So think about this: Can you blame those that “fled” for taking precautions? Would you put your child or loved one in harms way during an “iffy” situation? Can the media be the blame for human nature when it comes to hoarding rations, appropriating (or stealing depending on who you are) items needed to survive? I am curious to receive your feedback!