Sunday, 24 April 2011

Do not be deceived by demagoguery

(View from the chalkface Wednesday evening, whilst waiting for the graduate class to arrive.)

On Thursday evening I was reading in bed when there was a shake. It went on for about 2 minutes and was a little stronger than usual. I carried on reading. After about 10 minutes it began again. And then stopped. Another 10 or so minutes, another shake. This went on for about an hour and after the 5th shake I gave up reading, turned the light off and pulled the covers over my head. A uni office staff member said she and her daughter were so scared they crouched on the floor in their apartment. It was a strange evening. Definitely something is on the move in the Kanto area. So on Friday, instead of hitting the bookshops after work, I just came home. After the big one, a student said she walked from our university to Shinjuku in two hours. I estimate that from Shinjuku to my home is another 3 hours walk. So I think I will stay local whenever possible over the next few weeks. Just until we`ve got this 8 out of the way. Or we`re all fed up waiting for it.

I`m still translating the emergency booklet. From 10 minutes to 3 days after a quake we "must not be deceived by demagoguery". (デマに惑わされない。Dema ni madowasarenai.) I assume they`re referring to press releases from TEPCO.

I have been talking with staff and students about the small changes we have all made in our lives since March 11. No-one is making long trips. Plane and train tickets for the Golden Week holiday which starts this Friday are well down. Why go somewhere if you are not sure you can get back?

I have eaten the contents of my freezer. In a quake or a blackout, the word is that your fridge and freezer will stay cold for up to 5 hours. But after that the food is spoiled. So I have been replacing frozen vegetables with canned. And frozen meat with Spam!

I have taken only one bath since the quake. Every time I feel like a bath we have a shake and I change my mind.

My computer monitor is still taped to my desk and when I go out I put my netbook on the sofa with a cushion on top.

I stopped jogging for a while but, as is usual at the start of a new semester, a female student has already come up to me, prodded my stomach and called me a chubster so I`ve started again. (I gained one kilo ...)

There are lots of other small things but some Japanese people are loathe to admit that they have made any changes to their lives, even when it is obvious that they have. (And that includes criticism of the flyjin, the foreigners who left after Fukushima ... blew up or whatever it did ... I was at Tokyo station that Tuesday and it was PACKED with Japanese leaving too.) They don`t want to be seen to be going against the permitted Japanese norms. The Japanese people, as a nation, are brilliant in disasters. They simply carry on as if nothing has happened. They work round the clock to achieve the only permitted solution, a complete return to exactly how everything was before. But this rigid stoicism is what makes them unbearable in normal circumstances, refusing to consider new ideas or see any leeway. Which is why, although they have survived the geological disaster up to now, it may well be the political and economic repercussions which are the real catastrophe.

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