Tokyobling's Blog

Big Surprise: Life Goes On – Tokyo Still Kicking

Posted in Opinion by tokyobling on March 17, 2011

Update 2011.03.17 17:24 I have written a long reply to a comment from Julien where I explain why I am not afraid. It was a good question and I am thankful to Julien for taking the time to ask me this. I feel that it would be a useful thing to read for everyone who wonders about me. Thanks Julien!

As I woke up this morning and checked the news feeds I noticed that several embassies around the world are posting – quite frankly, they are panicking – instructions to their citizens to leave Japan or at least the North east area (Touhoku). I won’t name and shame any these countries (you know who you are), but a few countries are making headlines as being the first to succumb to this completely irrational fear and calling their citizens back. So what are foreigners saying about the situation in Japan, foreigners not in Japan?

I listed the three most common “complaints”, and they match with Asia, North America and Europe respectively.

“I have no information”
Well, what do you expect us to do? Spoon feed relevant information to every single citizen in your country or try to enforce your government to give you information? This is 2011. It is all out there, in any number of languages. And since you are reading this, chances are that you already read English, which is enough to give access to the most recent and relevant information yourself. I understand that you might not know where to look, but ask someone who knows, eventually you’ll be on top of the situation as well as any one. I live 240km from the power plants having trouble, and I have access to exactly the same information as my friends in Kula Lumpur, Ulan Bataar, Christchurch, Melbourne, Lissabon or Quebec. If you desire official information from your government, take it up with them. The Japanese government regularly issues updates to embassies in Tokyo and again, your government knows as much as I do. It’s all on the Internet.

“I don’t trust the Japanese government” I don’t blame you if you don’t, but let me tell you that I do. I have personal friends who have been ministers, I know some government officials personally. These guys are not stupid. Far from it. Neither are they part of some huge cover up operation, mean, lying, or determined to screw the general citizen, they are people just like me, but in many times far more intelligent. So, if you don’t trust the Japanese government, who will you trust? How about one of the hundreds of independent radiation detector operators across Japan? Surely not all of them lie. What about the US navy? They report no radiation and they are 50km 90km from the whole mess. How about doctors, eye witness accounts, university professors, the IAEA? Surely not all of them are trying to deceive you. It seems that I will be getting my own geiger counter in a couple of weeks, if the Gods of International Cargo have mercy on me. When I do I will start measuring daily all across the Kanto area to keep you informed. Don’t trust me? Well, I can’t help you with that I’m afraid. But the real, boring, normal, silly, truth is that, there is no health risk from radiation outside the plant itself. The government set the radiation safe zone at 20km this morning. Yes, the evacuation zone is 30km 20km (stay indoors zone is 30km), but they want to play it safe. At present, the radiation levels in Rome, Italy, are higher than 30km from the power plant. And I don’t see any ambassadors freaking out over this.

“I watch the news and it looks horrible” What did you expect from a class of people who make their living feeding you fear and lies? What did you expect after what happened? How can a modern society get hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and end up not looking rough? But the horrible truth (and it really saddens me) is that a majority of foreign media are actively up playing the scale of this disaster. I have personally seen foreign TV stations who have stitched together images of people walking past rubble in Sendai with the headline “People leaving Tokyo”. The Sun (oh have mercy on us all) in the UK ran the most insulting headline I have ever seen yesterday with their “Exodus From Tokyo” B-S. One Swedish tabloid had stock images of a US carrier at sea with the headline “US Navy fleeing cloud of death” in point sizes so large as to cover most of the front page. I won’t even mention what I’m seeing from Malaysian, US, French, Italian, Croatian, Canadian, German etc etc media. But it is really upsetting. And rest assured, some day soon, in a couple of weeks when this is over, the Japanese will turn around to check what has been said about them while they were occupied elsewhere. How do you think this outright lying will make your country look to the people of this country? Do you think a Japanese family watching screen shots of CNN a couple of weeks ago will be able to keep their respect for the US? For Sweden? For all the other countries whose media are doing their damned best to induce panic amongst their citizens in order to sell more ad space, to sell more in the newsstands?

Rest assured, fear, and the production of it, is a huge industry. Ask yourself who benefits from you feeling insecure, lonely, unsuccessful or scared? Lately, private media has shown us their real face.

People are lamenting the death of news media. TV channels and papers going out of business. Well, I used to care but not anymore. Good riddance to them. And please close the door when you leave.

So for everyone asking me, I am still in Tokyo. I can leave any time I want to. I do not plan to leave. I do not think there is a risk to my health now, or in the future because of this disaster. Sure, feel free to point at me if I’m wrong. Feel free to sing “na-na-na-na-na” and say “what about that stupid fearless Tokyobling guy?”. IF something happens. IF. Until then, join me and do your best in telling the people you know, and the people you know in Japan that you believe in us and that you know things will be all right eventually. Tweet this blog post (I’m not doing this for me, I own no stock, have no currency reserves, I don’t make a single penny out of the ads on this blog), ask your media to please verify every single headline, to verify every single adjective they use. Check and double check.

And please ask your friends to stay calm. We have bigger problems going on right now. The psychological damage to survivors (and that includes me, and probably you) is likely to far exceed the physical damages. Your kind words, your support to the people of Japan, your smile, is enough. We are not asking for money. Just your love. And last time I checked love was still free of charge. So here’s a million hugs to all of you. I can afford it.

Yours, Tokyobling (who is still going to work, still buying train tickets, still taking his camera out for walks, still online, still on Facebook, still planning his vacation and still, smiling. Almost every day)

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35 Responses

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  1. Julie (JUURI) said, on March 17, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Thank you. You are like Anpanman, yattsuker-ing the falsehoods. Indeed I was appalled to see the misleading photo and “Tokyo Exodus” headline in the Washington Post. I think your posts are calming many people down. You are doing such a valuable work, since fear is often worse than the situation itself. Thank you!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:06 am

      Thank you Julie! I’ll keep it up as long as necessary….! Yes, and here I was thinking that the W Post was a good newspaper. But no more. Thanks for letting us know!

      Like

  2. Irina said, on March 17, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Thank you! And thank you for letting us share this and tell people around us the truth. God bless! xxx

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

      Thank you Irina! Any little way, whatever I can do to bring some order to all of the information swirling around out there!

      Like

  3. Julien said, on March 17, 2011 at 8:01 am

    First I’m sorry I didnt read the whole article it’s too long. I have to read many many things those days.. :/
    Just, If you have some doubts about some radioactivity issues in Tokyo, can you officialy say that to 35 millions of people ? When its 100 000 (still a looot) it might be ok for security reasons blablabla 100 000 ok.. But can you move 35 millions of people when its not 100% sure ? No one car manage so many people, it’s currently impossible. Look at the situation of the 450 000 (maybe.. i’m lost in numbers) refugees in the north of Japan..
    I don’t think so. I have no friends in governement, I’m (was) a “poor” student learning Japanese in Tokyo. But could you put your life in their hands in that current situation ?
    When you’re not really concerned, it’s easy to say yes/no but when you live it, it’s not at all the same. You can really believe they’re saying the truth you’re safe blablabla, you still have that little voice saying “hey idiot you’ve got only one life ! Would you risk it because you trust them ?”

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

      Hi Julien, don’t worry, I agree I write too long about this. Naturally, what you say has a point. And I don’t blame anyone for feeling worried, feeling scared or feeling depressed. I don’t think that it is possible to evacuate the whole of Kanto, but I honstly think that it will never come to the point where it will be necessary. This is my honest belief, and my reasoning is open to everyone to read in the posts I make here. I don’t lie, I don’t trust things that I can’t verify by at least two sources, and I don’t pretend that I know more than anything else.

      Everything I say can be verified. I don’t use any sources that are not open to anyone with an internet connection. I have friends all over Japan and in all walks of life, but I don’t rely on any of them for this. And I don’t ask anyone to trust me blindly. You are more than welcome to use all the sources I have, namely Japanese TV, Japanese Radio, Internet sites in several different languages and Twitter. Nothing more, nothing less.

      And trust me, I am living it. I spend about 20 hours a day following the situation, and nothing I see makes me scared enough to really bother me.

      What bothers me is that I see a lot of scared people, mostly foreigners and young people who feel lonely and isolated. I do my best to report of what I find, and how I find it. I invite people to reason with me and so far I haven’t met someone who doesn’t admit that what they are feeling is irrational. My audience in this blog though, because this is what we are talking about, is mainly for people outside Japan. People who might not have access to Japanese language sites or people who don’t know where to find reliable information for themselves. And when they can’t, they turn to their own country’s media, which in many cases is totally overblown and totally out of proportion. Many times they lie, use words that are bigger. They say Fear when they describe Unease, and Panic when they describe Fear.

      I am not asking anyone in Japan who is in danger to trust me. Everyone must make their own choices. What I am saying though, is that things are not that bad in Japan right now. Not like what you see in the media.

      I’m giving my view of Japan, and I am not worried. Not about myself or my friends in Tokyo. What I am worried about is the people up north who are still stuck in the cold. It will get better as airports and roads are mostly cleared to go by this afternoon.

      What foreign media doesn’t tell you is all the things we are doing to help. The people sending food and clothes and fuel up north. The military moving in the stricken areas, the little old ladies spending all their days cooking food to send for help. The farmers sending all their produce. The foreign rescue units digging through debris in the slim chance they will find any survivors. These people are the real heroes. And this is not only in Tokyo or the Northwest, all over Japan people are doing what they can. Japan is a big country. If laid over Europe it would reach from Portugal to Bulgaria, over 3000km long.

      So no, I don’t feel I am wrong. I don’t see any reason why I am wrong. I am not afraid. Worried, yes, for the psychological health of people all over the world, but I am not worried about myself.

      Thank you.

      Like

  4. vancha said, on March 17, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Greetings from Croatia!
    News here are translated from UK or USA sites and TV. Really.
    Good thing I found this blog so I can get some real info from someone who actually lives there.

    Did you see this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS6-YMzPWsE&feature=player_embedded

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:13 am

      Thank you Vancha, and thanks for the link! I think the media situation in Croatia is especially bad (for reasons I won’t go into here right now), so I am happy you found me. Keep coming back and don’t trust all the stuff they are saying on foreign news!

      Like

  5. fritz said, on March 17, 2011 at 10:24 am

    thank you! finally someone with common sense is talking about the issue!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:14 am

      Fritz, of all people, I knew you’d understand! Now can we count on you to go up to Berlin and talk some sense into those wacky politicians you seem to have there? (^-^)

      Like

  6. Ida Jonsgården said, on March 17, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Jättebra blog!

    Continue to keep us updated! (Vilket du även gör helt fantastiskt bra på facebook!)

    /Ida.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

      Thanks Ida! Your (and PA’s) kind comments really helps me stay focused!

      Like

  7. japanshow said, on March 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    All our love and support.
    Foreign media are criminals, playing their games on the tears of Japan.
    Keep us updated. Your words are shading light on the real life in Tokyo!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:17 am

      Thank you! You say the stuff I can’t say. For obvious reasons. But I totally agree. 100%.

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on! I read all your comments as they came in and they all meant a lot to me. I wish I had had more time to reply to all of them, personally and in real time.

      Like

  8. carrie ann said, on March 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I’m so happy that I’ve been following your blog for so long. What you say about the media is correct. Every major event whether local or global is always so blown out of proportion. It’s good to find a “real” person that is there giving a voice of reason and truth. I love Japan and hopefully will someday get to visit there. Until then, I look forward to your daily photos and stories about life there so that when I get to to visit, I won’t feel so much like a tourist but at least for a short time as an insider.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:19 am

      Thank you Carrie Ann! Your kind words and comments really helped me stay focus during the darkest days last week when I thought the whole world was wishing for nothing more than to see us killed. Lots of love from Tokyobling to you and your family!!!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on! I read all your comments as they came in and they all meant a lot to me. I wish I had had more time to reply to all of them, personally and in real time.

      Like

  9. Aldana said, on March 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you so much for this. REALLY, thank you so much. If you don’t mind, I’ll share it.
    I have been looking forward to read someone that agrees with me: mass media are really waiting to see apocalypses. Because that’s their job, not telling people the truth. Every time I read the newspaper I feel sick, it’s incredible how much they like to panic people more and more everyday.

    IF something happens, I’ll be the silly girl too, who said that no apocalypses is gonna happen. For now on, I keep my trust in Japanese government. As you said, those guys aren’t idiot at all.

    A big smile from Argentina ♥.
    Ganbatte, Japan!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

      Dear Aldana, thank you so much for your kind words and support! Please share! I haven’t blogged about this yet (but I will), I have friends who have become physically ill from reading newspapers and watching TV news about the situation in Japan. And these are not weak people! It’s heartbreaking to see otherwise sane and healthy people break down, just from news-induced fear. I really think that a lot of foreign media deserves a lot of attention for what they have done to the people both inside and outside of Japan. Criminal, is what it is.

      Thank you for the smile! We will use that positive energy to keep us smiling over here!!!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on! I read all your comments as they came in and they all meant a lot to me. I wish I had had more time to reply to all of them, personally and in real time.

      Like

  10. Klaus said, on March 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I know and I want to say it to you, that really a lot and a lot and a lot of people here in Germany are looking with warm hearts and sooo many good wishes to you all in Japan! We hope and wish, that this unbeleavable hard days will end and you will find peace to be healed from inside and outside.
    There is no hour in these days, in which I do not think with warmth and brotherly human love of you and take part in your fear! You are not alone – I wish, you could feel that… now, in these moments – and in the future!
    We all are one…

    Klaus

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:31 am

      Thank you Klaus! Your words and your support are very important to me. I know that more Japanese people are also discovering this blog, and I really want them to see the massive support they have abroad, not just the crazy foreign media or politicians trying to score on this awful situation. Lots of love from Tokyo, to you Klaus!!!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on! I read all your comments as they came in and they all meant a lot to me. I wish I had had more time to reply to all of them, personally and in real time.

      Like

  11. Lili said, on March 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Thank you for this post!!!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

      Thank you for your continues support Lili! I owe you Sushi! when you visit Tokyo next! (^O^)/

      Like

  12. M Mauchline said, on March 18, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Thank you for the balance that is so sorely missing in most news coverage. Thank you also for your generosity in allowing people to use your images. I did take you up on that offer, and the results can be seen on my latest posting.

    My thoughts are with all those who have been affected, and continue to be affected by the events in the northeast prefectures. Be well,

    Mark Mauchline

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:44 am

      Thank you! I saw and read the great post you did on “gaman”. I love it. Thank you for your support and kind words!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on! I read all your comments as they came in and they all meant a lot to me. I wish I had had more time to reply to all of them, personally and in real time.

      Like

  13. amblerangel said, on March 18, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Well said – and you are absolutely right. People must educate themselves by going through the information available- everywhere- and not relying on sound bytes to tell the story. We’ll be back from vacation on the 27th- and are looking forward to coming home.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

      I saw your blog and I’m glad and happy to have you back in town! As you and the little ones must have noticed, things are tediously normal here in Tokyo. I fear that even the rumor of food shortages have been greatly exaggerated. Bottled water is available in most machines and my super market has a good supply even of toilet paper. No need to worry in other words. Welcome HOME! (^-^)/

      Like

      • amblerangel said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm

        We’re guzzling water out of the tap anyway. School starts an hour early and I’m free to go make rice balls at the Franciscan chapel-guess I better wash my hands. A new routine since none of my Tuesday yoga buddies came back! I have tweeted your graduation pics all over the place- they’re my all time favorites!

        Like

        • tokyobling said, on March 31, 2011 at 5:57 am

          Thank you Amblerangel! I think that you and the little ‘uns returning (and your blogging about it) is worth 10 Tokyobling blogs and 1000 government reassurances as for calming people down. Thanks for the tweeting, too! (^O^)

          Like

  14. Timi said, on March 18, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Thanks for the post, and keep on smiling it has more power then the media, thnaksfully:)

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

      I hope to so! Thanks Timi! (^-^)/

      Like

  15. btlau said, on March 18, 2011 at 9:12 am

    You must have heard about the stupid salt rumour and how people in China and HK are buying salt off the racks to protect against radiation? Gawd!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:48 am

      Haha… yes, we heard and saw on the news…! Not Japanese news though, Japanese media is far to polite to show such foolishness! And I think similar things happened in the US as well… well, let’s hope people learn something from it. If not, Chinese hospitals will be crowded with people overdosing on salt in the near future…! (^-^;) Salt can be dangerous if overdone, and anyway, Chinese food is pretty salty already! (^o^)

      Like

  16. ladykayaker said, on March 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    This is similar to my experience after the Loma Prieta earthquake here in California in 1989 (or was it 87? One was the earthquake, the other was a stock market crash. anyway…)

    The SF bay area had patches of devastation each of which extended a few blocks. These occurred due to areas of fill-dirt that had suffered liquefaction. Because of appropriate building codes here, the vast majority of homes, roads, and businesses had the contents of their drawers and shelves thrown to the floor, but suffered no actual structural damage.

    The phone lines were jammed. We could not phone out. Yet the national news portrayed the event as if the entire area had been flattened, carefully framing their shots to exclude adjacent intact areas from their scenes of devastation. They lingered hungrily over the ‘collapsed cypress structure’ with it’s ‘pancake section’, looking for blood, and ignored that six of the 7 bridges across our bay were intact as were the rest of the major freeways. in Oakland they misreported an incident of two teenagers grab-and-run shoplifting candy bars, as ‘looting’.

    So, I can totally relate to what you’re going through. Your disaster is much worse than the one I experienced (come on–a 9.0 with a tsunami compared to a 7.2 earthquake?), but the media is pulling the same BS.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 31, 2011 at 12:57 am

      Thank you! I really enjoyed reading your comment, it’s good to hear from someone who’s “been there” and have roughly the same kind of opinion as I after having gone through it. Unfortunately (fortunately?) the majority of the general public have no idea about this, and as human beings we tend to always believe the worst. My friends in central Sendai are describing exactly the same things as you do, but obviously the city layout is different and some of the suburbs are badly damaged. Still, life goes on and reconstruction has been started. Thanks, again! Hope to have you back here soon!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on!

      Like


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