Three months after March 11: Political mess, missing bodies and Fukushima continues

Three months after March 11: Political mess, missing bodies and Fukushima continues

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The devastating 9-0-magnitude earthquake which unleashed the brutal tsunami and Fukushima nuclear crisis is now three months ago but March 11 remains vivid and for all the wrong reasons.  In this time many changes have taken place but sadly to say many negative things continue and some of this is self-induced.

Even today around 8,000 bodies are still missing and the dark clouds hovering over the Fukushima nuclear Daiichi power plant continues.  Therefore, the nightmare of March 11 still continues and it would appear that many bodies will never be found and this means “no closure” for many people.

At the same time the Fukushima nuclear crisis also shows you that Japan shunned a lot of nuclear advice and support which was offered by the international community.  However, it is apparent that TEPCO and the government did not have an adequate policy and counter measure to deal with the crisis and initial optimism no longer applies. 

The crisis once more shows you the complete shoddiness of the political system because within less than three months the usual petty political point scoring continues. Therefore, the main opposition party and powerful people within the ruling party want the current leader of Japan to resign and Prime Minister Naoto Kan is clearly in a tight corner.

In Tokyo it is clear that apart from certain power constraints that life is virtually back to normal.  The fear of radiation and the uneasy feeling which existed in the first few weeks and until the middle of April no longer applies.

Therefore, on Friday night and Saturday night you will see busy trains, people drunk, party time and people meeting friends and relaxing.  During the day shoppers are busy checking the latest fashion in trendy parts of Tokyo and daily shopping is in full flow.

The gap between the badly hit areas in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi is growing because while problems continue to haunt these places it is clear that the rest of Japan is ticking.  In truth, many parts of Japan were always ticking and while power shortages have hindered major companies which had operations in northeast Japan much of the problems are structural and energy related.

Energy problems will continue and the debate about nuclear energy and safety mechanisms since March 11 will create problems.  After all, currently the nuclear energy sector is vital for supplying Japan with enough electricity but political constraints on existing nuclear power plants means that energy shortages will continue.

Overall, the earthquake continues to haunt northeastern Japan but much of the Kanto plains have returned to normal.  Missing bodies and the Fukushima crisis continues, therefore, the recovery is slow in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi. Added to this is the housing crisis and continuing radiation which is polluting the sea.

However, in Tokyo it is abundantly clear that life is in full swing and busy areas like Ginza, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno and throughout the city are buzzing like usual.

The political crisis shames Japan because 8,000 people are still missing but like usual the political reality of this nation means that a lot of pressure is being put on the current leader to resign.

Therefore, the picture is mixed and this applies to the continuing pain in northeastern Japan despite ongoing restructuring and redevelopment.  The usual shallowness of the political system continues to blight the country and the Fukushima nuclear crisis is still not under complete control.  However, Tokyo and the rest of Japan is ticking and despite energy issues which still apply it is clear that the worse of the scare mongering did not happen and Japan is open to business and trade. (please visit)


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