Subtract 13 feet.
Eastern Japan is now 13 feet closer to North America, as a result of the tectonic-plate shift that caused an earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale, and a tidal wave that has pulverized Japan’s north-eastern coastal region. The quake has damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.
Our country’s edgy experts have ordered the evacuation of Americans in Japan within a 50-mile radius of the damaged reactors at Fukushima. Japan is being harangued to ape America. The Japanese have, so far, moved people from within a 20 km radius of the power plant. Funny that. The neurotic nation, whose military personnel in Japan are popping iodine pills if they’ve so much as flown over, or visited, the vicinity, expects the country that is fielding “The Fukushima 50” to do the same.
“The Fukushima 50” are volunteers from the Tokyo Electric Power Company. These men are working under near-impossible conditions at the problem power station to douse radioactive fires and spent nuclear rods, and to plug reactor containment vessels. As we say in the US, these men are taking a hit for the team.
Judging by their bombast, you’d think that our experts have been to the site at Fukushima. Indeed, Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asserted that the water meant to cover and cool the spent fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor had evaporated, leaving the rods dangerously exposed. They were overheating, he declared from ground zero … at the House Energy and Commerce Committee panel in Washington.
“It’s way past Three Mile Island already,” crowed physicist Frank von Hippel. “The biggest risk now is that the core really melts down and you have a steam explosion.” Where exactly was Professor von Hippel situated when he issued his doom-laden predictions? At Princeton, New Jersey.
Jaczko’s Japanese counterparts have countered that they are on the verge of restoring electrical power to the Daiichi plant, and with it the ability to pump water over the sizzling, spent fuel.
Are the nuclear plants in japan working the way ours do in America? MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked one of the many American specialists to shamelessly share his findings from afar. Hardball’s blowhard has a point. The USA’s stellar safety record ̶ the best in the world, perhaps ̶ is helped by the fact that we don’t have much of a nuclear power industry. Following the recommendations set out in the “China Syndrome,” a Hollywood dramatization of the incident at Three Mile Island, the construction of new reactors in the USA was practically halted. Nobody died in that 1979 accident in Pennsylvania. Nobody but the nuclear-power industry.
The chauvinism with which our ego-bound elites are treating The Japanese Other continued apace. After all, this genteel, able people do not qualify as members of an easy-to-patronize, protected group, the kind so valued in the US.
CNN’s rude Wolf Blitzer turned furiously on Ichiro Fujisaki, the Japanese ambassador to the US, in an interview that reminded me of the time the regal (Akio) Toyoda went up against the proverbial Torquemada, his tormentors on the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. No words of condolence did Blitzer offer to the Japanese gentleman for the calamity his country and people had endured. Instead, he hammered Fujisaki about the possibility of “another Chernobyl” at the Daiichi power plant.
That one of the largest tremors in recorded history had left some 6 million Japanese households without electricity horrified Wolf. Where were Wolf and his network during the biggest windstorm to have hit Washington and Oregon in decades? In 2006, at least a million residents in the Pacific Northwest were stranded without power for days ̶ some for weeks ̶ in primitive conditions, befitting a Third World country. So too is Blitzer blissfully unaware that, with Katrina, the US government’s claim for high standards in a natural disaster was sundered forever.
At one stage, the bewildered Blitzer repeated, incredulously, “No looting? No looting; are you sure?” which is when a CNN Japanese foreign correspondent took the opportunity to educate this insular American. Japan was relatively crime-free. If you lose your wallet, you’ll likely find it at the nearest police station. People pull together here, yet are propelled forward by individual agency and initiative, she explained proudly.
But that was hardly a journalistic angle worth pursuing. For to grasp the reason this homogenous society’s culture has endured, one would have to juxtapose it with balkanized America, a country riven by feuds and factions courtesy of state-imposed tribalism (multiculturalism and mass immigration). Far better to crank things up by pursuing the partial meltdown, full meltdown, or core meltdown, angle in Japan.
Most members of the meltdown media have been schooled in activism, not in journalism. To them, every news story becomes, reflexively, a cause; a reason to “educate” and promote “awareness,” rather than to report the facts. That so many of our news outlets settled on identical front-page, or pixelated, ledes is unsettling.
As a consequence of this pervading group-think, we have not seen nearly enough of how impressively the Japanese people are coping; how calm and courageous they appear in interviews. When CNN’s international correspondent alluded to “scenes of hardship,” the camera cut to a shelter. The images were heartbreaking, to be sure. But, unlike those taken during Katrina, there was much to inspire in Japan. One saw rows of neatly laid-out mats. The elderly had been snugly tucked in clean blankets. Kids, faces covered with masks, were sweeping the floors industriously.
In other footage, lines of people snaked around the neighborhood, waiting patiently, sometimes for days, to purchase food and water. The individuals interviewed were grief-struck, but they held it together. Nobody was screaming for government aid. There has been no menace or murder on what remains of the streets of Sendai city.
Accustomed as I am to seeing abreacting Americans or unhinged Haitians, these sights astounded me. My heroes have always been in the Greek tradition. This makes the silent, stoic, refined Japanese my heroes.
Japan will be okay. It is a highly civilized, advanced society.
©2011 By ILANA MERCER