Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Life in Tokyo Goes On

In spite of the horrors you've seen on TV about the earthquake and nuclear accident in Japan, for those of us in Tokyo, life goes on - granted with considerably more inconvenience - but it goes on nevertheless. It is a testament to the human spirit and the Japanese mindset that people soldier on.

As my friend Reg MacDonald, who is married to a Japanese and lived in Japan for many years, wrote, "The calm resilience of the general population is inspiring but saddening too in contrast with a typically bumbling leadership." Well, there's not much we can say that is positive about our politicians. I've written about that many times before. The most recent example, citing this disaster, here

I thank all of you wonderful people who have sent messages and emails worrying about us. God bless you all.

For everyone today, a short post about the current situation in Tokyo. I am not in Miyagi prefecture where the earthquake hit and the nuclear power plants exist so I cannot make any statements as to the situation on the ground there. Trust, folks, that in Tokyo we are very far away so what you are seeing on TV 6,000 miles away in the USA is basically the same thing we are seeing here in Tokyo.

I'd like to put some minds to rest and give you the good news, and the bad news about the nuclear accident that is currently going on. First off, let me say that I am not a scientist so I will not fill this post with technological terms, nor will I try to explain what a core or rods are. I don't know. I don't particularly care. I will talk about common sense and facts.

First the good news. For those of us living in Tokyo or to the south or west of the nuclear accident, we are in pretty good shape. Why? Think about it; All weather systems and storms come up from China or the southern island of Kyushu direction. They then hit western Japan, Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto in the Kansai area, and then move on up into to Kanto region where Tokyo is. The storms always move this way. 

This means that the prevailing winds are always blowing from the south or the west. This is good news for us in Tokyo as the nuclear fallout will head north or out over the Pacific ocean. 

Now, if this nuclear accident hit at Tokai or Hamaoka nuclear power plants south of Tokyo, you'd hear me whistling a different tune. We have problems here in Tokyo if those were the affected power plants as Tokyo is downwind and down ocean current!

So the good news is that those of us in Tokyo and Kansai are pretty safe. The bad news is that it is not good for those living north of the accident site in Japan.

It is also bad news for Alaska, Canada and the western United States as the prevailing winds and Jet Streams go from a westerly direction - from Asia towards the Americas. If you've ever flown in a jet from the USA to Japan and back, you'll know this is true. It takes over 11 hours from Los Angeles to Tokyo, but about 9 hours the other way.

So that's good news for us in Japan too.

"The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse? Well, okay... But
I still gotta pick up the trash as today is trash day"

Now, before you folks in the USA protest that this is all bad news for the USA, I must point out another fact: Those 3 reactors that have exploded and melted down were all "Made in the USA" General Electric reactors.

Just goes to show that Karma really can be a bitch.

*Japan Trends has a great photo article about how Life Goes on in Tokyo here. Please Check it out.

Thanks so much to Michael Keferl and my friends at Japan Trends for seeing eye to eye with me and keeping a realistic positive approach to this misfortune.


James said...


If you haven't already, you should really read this post by MIT engineers about the Japan reactors, originally posted on a blog as "Why I am not worried about Japan's nuclear reactors."


Anonymous said...

well, california isn't too concerned


Guy Jean said...

The French are worried. This wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that 80% of France's electricity comes from nuclear power, would it?

I think the nuclear reactors are built by Toshiba, but based on a GE design.
Here's a former Toshiba safety engineer giving a talk to the Tokyo Foreign Correspondents' Press Club recently on the crisis at Fukushima (in Japanese with English translation. 1 hr 40 mins)

salil said...

At least the Enviormental Protection Agency's policy recently has been positive for most areas on a global scale .....
The absense of an epidemic might be alarming to some extent .....

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