Archive for the ‘ Japan’s Triple Disaster ’ Category

An Unfortunate Event: Japan 3.11.11

This site is dedicated to the victims of Japan’s triple disaster that occurred on March 11th, 2011.

I lived in the northeastern region of Japan for three years prior to the catastrophic event. I had photographed much of that area extensively. The city of Sendai has some of the friendliest people I have ever met. I have many great memories, and I enjoyed living there. Sadly, those great memories are now overshadowed, as many of those places are now gone forever. There were beautiful beaches that I discovered, and surfed, such as Yuriage, Shinko and Gamo. Yuriage no longer exists, with more than 1000 people reported dead. Shinko, and Gamo didn’t fare much better. These places were completely decimated as a result of the record breaking 9.0 earthquake, and the subsequent tsunami that followed. Many of my friends, their families, homes, businesses and communities are gone forever.

Japanese officials estimate that the death toll at approximately 18,000. This is as accurate as the botched manner in which this disaster has been handled, and reported. Many people dispute the governments report as either extremely conservative, or intentionally misleading. For example, there are more than 9000 dead or missing in the town of Otsuchi, which is in Iwate. Likewise, Miyagi prefecture, which was one of the hardest hit, accounts for more than 15,000 deaths. In these two reports there are clearly more than 24,000 people reported dead or missing. After several months, many bodies are still being discovered. It is also reported that there are more than 452,000 that remain homeless as a result of this catastrophe.

According to the World Bank, financial cost of the disaster is estimated at 260 billion USD. Some experts say it could cost as much as 320 billion, and take as long as ten years for Japan to rebuild.

The final toll of this triple disaster remains unknown as the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Plant continues to leak radiation into the atmosphere, Pacific Ocean, water supply, and surrounding communities. TEPCO states that it will take decades to clean up their mess. Further, the reckless, irresponsible and grossly negligent energy giant, continues to heap misery on the region as it is plagued with yet more egregious mishaps, and criminal culpability.

Tomohiko Suzuki, an investigative reporter that went undercover at the plant between July and August used a hidden pin-hole camera to document shoddy work, including the use of flimsy plastic piping to handle highly irradiated waste water, and the knowing manipulation of workers radiation dosimeters, which has resulted, and continues to result in workers receiving radiation beyond safety levels. When Suzuki was asked about his own exposure to radiation as a result of his investigative reporting he said, “What’s done is done, I am not going to worry about it anymore.”

Making matters worse, about ten percent of the workers are supplied from Yakuza related subcontractors. So much for the ridiculous anti-gang association law that went into effect nationwide on October 1st. Suzuki also reported that, “Reactor makers Toshiba and Hitachi, which were brought in to help resolve the crisis don’t communicate to each other.” Suzuki says that the mainstream Japanese press has ignored his story.

It is reported that at least three of the Dai-Ichi reactors are in full meltdown mode. At least one of those reactors was using a highly dangerous, and volatile concoction known as MOX fuel. MOX fuel is the deadliest brew that has ever existed on planet earth. MOX is a man-made substance used to squeeze as much economic gain out of nuclear fission as possible. Some of the unconscionable byproducts of MOX fuel are neutron rays. A neutron rays half-life is 600 million years, and can’t be detected by a commercial Geiger counter. Neutron rays have been discovered in several locations, outside of the 20-kilometer evacuation zone around Japan.

Although twenty kilometers have been evacuated around Fukushima, (thirty kilometers voluntarily), many of the residents are in denial regarding their eventual return home. The fact is, there will be no homecoming. Namie, Soma, Minami Soma, Haranoumachi, and other communities are lost to anyone in this lifetime. Some “hot zone” communities that are far outside of the evacuation zone, such as Iidate, continues to grow agriculture that is banned for sale.

Those that have remained in Fukushima have to deal with mountains of radiation debris being stored all over the region. They also have to deal with mountains of deception on the part of the Japanese government, and the media that collude to cover up as much of the important information as possible. To make matters worse, after nearly nine months, the Japanese government still has no program in place to help the devastated region. The government literally has done nothing to help clean up the mess, it, and TEPCO are responsible for. By now, it’s as evident they don’t plan to do anything.

Fukushima news reporter, Harada Sachiko infamous around the world for having children eat unwashed radiated cherries for the camera, discovered that she was pregnant. Sachiko finally revealed that she had been falsifying news reports, and misleading the public by pretending to remain in the region, reporting that Fukushima remained a safe place to live. Sachiko had been lying to the residents, telling them that there was no concern, as she herself remained living in Fukushima. Nothing was further from the truth. Sachiko evacuated the region immediately upon learning about the Dai-Ichi plant failure. Sachiko merely traveled to work by bullet train, and hiding her identity by wearing a mask.

The controversial mayor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara may have said it best, “The identity of the Japanese people is selfishness. The Japanese people must take advantage of this tsunami as a means of washing away their selfish greed. I really do think this is divine punishment.”

Not adhering to the mayor’s chastisement, the Japanese beverage company Meiji was caught shipping baby formula that contained high levels of radiation. The 7-11 convenient store chain openly supports Fukushima farmers by purchasing their produce. In   reality, 7-11 is taking advantage of the bereaved farmers by purchasing their produce at bargain basement prices. 7-11 then sells these banned crops as meals to an unsuspecting public. The stories of corporate greed after the triple disaster are endless. There are signs all over Japan that read, “Support Fukushima Products.” Unfortunately, the culture of selfishness continues to permeate throughout Japan. Maybe it’s worse than ever!

The water supply in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yokohama and Ibaraki continues to test for increased radiation levels. The water had been determined to be dangerous for children to consume.  Green tea, rice, spinach, milk, baby formulas, and other products have been poisoned by high levels of radiation, yet these products continue to be sold to a duped public. Simply, Japan, a country that was once among the safest places in the world to live, can no longer make such a claim.

The west coast of the U.S. hasn’t fared much better with radiation from Dai-Ichi being detected in Oklahoma rain, and as far away as my hometown, Miami, Florida. Don’t expect the U.S. media to report on any of this as the U.S. president Obama receives deep contributions from General Electric, the company that gave the world the failed power plants at Dai-Ichi. The same company that makes billions yet pays no taxes.

Despite all of this, Photo Journal Japan has been made to honor of the victims of the triple disaster. I’m confident that much like the mythical bird Phoenix, the Japanese people will rebuild their communities, and rise again. Sadly, however that mythical bird will not be building its next in the communities that surround the Dai-Ichi power plant. For that region, it may take several hundreds of years, and several generation before the area is habitable again.