Friday, April 6, 2012

Sensationalism, Scare Mongering and the Nanny State

The article screams that the Japanese government has plans for evacuating 10 million people from Tokyo because of Fukushima... Yeah, right! If it were so bad, then why only 10 million? There's are at least 35 million people in Tokyo.

There is still way too much sensationalism and frankly speaking piss poor writing going on about Fukushima. I found one of the worst examples I've seen in a long time today. This article's title is suitable for a gossip weekly magazine on some US supermarket check out counter along with the Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby story. The title lays bare to the low quality of writing held within: It's Not Over: Government Plans for the Worst: Forced Evacuation of Tokyo. The article goes on stating that the nuclear problem is out of control, cannot be controlled and the Japanese government has plans to evacuate ten million people from Tokyo.


Folks, the situation in Fukushima is bad enough as it is without some fools scare mongering. Allow me to go through this with you and point out some of the gross absurdities within. The article from SHTF will be italicized and highlighted in yellow. My comments will be added.

It's Not Over: Government lans for the Worst: Forced Evacuation of Tokyo 

While it has for the most part disappeared from mainstream view, the Fukushima nuclear disaster is anything but over. In fact, the situation in Japan has gone from bad to worse.
Bottom line: There is no way to contain the radiation.

Well, if saying that "There's no way to contain the radiation" isn't a give away for more sensationalism to come then I think I need some rabies shot before I go on reading further. As I said, at the plants in Fukushima, things aren't all roses and in many cases pretty bad especially with leakages that, by the way, have been reported to have been plugged (so maybe they can be contained?) Also, judging from the background radiation levels in Shinjuku, Tokyo measured daily, those levels are one half of what they were one year ago.
Even more alarming is that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and other agencies have warned that the nuclear storage pools (the containment units that are being used to cool the nuclear fuel) have been damaged and may collapse under their own weight.

"May" collapse? Well, I may win the year-end lottery too!
Such an event would cause widespread nuclear fallout throughout the region and force the government to evacuate the nearly 10 million residents of Tokyo and surrounding areas, a scenario which government emergency planners are now taking into serious consideration.

This paragraph is a dead giveaway that the writer doesn't have a clue as to what he is talking about. Tokyo constitutes over 51% of Japan's entire GDP. There are over 35 million homes in the Tokyo metropolitan area alone. Two questions for this writer: Where in the world did he come up with this incorrect information of "10 million residents of Tokyo"? and even if this were correct, where, pray tell would these people be sent? He goes on:
Leading Japanese newspaper The Mainichi Daily News reports:
One of the biggest issues that we face is the possibility that the spent nuclear fuel pool of the No. 4 reactor at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant will collapse. This is something that experts from both within and outside Japan have pointed out since the massive quake struck. TEPCO, meanwhile, says that the situation is under control. However, not only independent experts, but also sources within the government say that it’s a grave concern.
The storage pool in the No. 4 reactor building has a total of 1,535 fuel rods, or 460 tons of nuclear fuel, in it. The 7-story building itself has suffered great damage, with the storage pool barely intact on the building’s third and fourth floors. The roof has been blown away. If the storage pool breaks and runs dry, the nuclear fuel inside will overheat and explode, causing a massive amount of radioactive substances to spread over a wide area. Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and French nuclear energy company Areva have warned about this risk.

Lots of "ifs" and "the possibility" of disaster...
A report released in February by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident stated that the storage pool of the plant’s No. 4 reactor has clearly been shown to be “the weakest link” in the parallel, chain-reaction crises of the nuclear disaster. The worse-case scenario drawn up by the government includes not only the collapse of the No. 4 reactor pool, but the disintegration of spent fuel rods from all the plant’s other reactors. If this were to happen, residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area would be forced to evacuate. (emphasis mine)

This hits the crux of the problem. That last two sentences that I highlighted. They speak of the worst case scenario. This is the worst-case scenario drawn up by the government. 
I looked for the link to the original article and it doesn't exist. That's OK, though I found a cache. Then I tracked back to the original Japanese language transcripts and broadcasts.
Admittedly, they say the same thing as this sensationalist articles says, yet in a slightly different vein. The jist of the original Japanese is "If there is another huge earthquake, then the pools might collapse." They are indeed speaking of worst-case scenarios. Nowhere in the original articles do any of the experts consulted claim that this will happen. Everyone says "if"... 
Well, if I win the lottery too... If we have another 9.0 earthquake...
As far as evacuation claims, I could not find any information to that effect at all. Though I would consider that, even in the USA, there are evacuation plans for all sorts of scenarios... For example; If the Russians fire nuclear missiles; if there is a nuclear attack on a US city; if terrorists poison the water supply, etc., etc.... Gosh! There's goes that pesky "if" again.
It's all a part and parcel of the culture of fear that is pedaled by the government and media nowadays as news. 
This article was full of "what ifs". But, here's some facts:
144 workers and employees died at Chernobyl within 6 months of the event due to radiation. More than one year after Fukushima two guys dead from the tsunami, one guy dead from a heart attack, none from radiation.
As I have pointed out, the 10 million Tokyo residents number doesn't add up no matter how you slice it... Think about it.... Sure government wonks probably have plan for something like this (they also had a plan to blow a hole in the side of the nuclear reactors up with US military explosives in order to cool them down but Dr. Strangelove was out voted)... Doesn't the government sit around and make plans and committees to think up ways to screw up and spend money?.... 
This sensationalist article is full of conjecture and scare mongering... I'll bet it works good for selling products.

In fact, in some of the original article links, there are links to a daytime women's talk show where an "expert" appeared. Here's the video. Have a Japanese watch it with you and explain what is said: 

This is a morning women's talk and gossip news show on TV Asahi. For your information, few people take TV Asahi as a serious news station as Asahi TV is owned by Asahi Newspaper. Asahi newspaper is traditionally a leftist and pro-socialist publication - it has been that way for 100 years and supports the socialist parties and even did so with communist parties in the past. 
As with American morning TV talk shows such as Good Morning America and the like (we have them in Japan too - witness the above), then if you wish to trust this sort of women's gossip and news program as a news source, then you must have believed that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons so the USA had to invade, a man in a cave organized 9/11, America the brave went into Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the middle east to bring those folks democracy and freedom.... Sure.
I like the SHTF reports (well sometimes) but they don't do sensationalism from Japan well - especially since they don't speak the language so they can't verify their sources and they obviously are not knowledgeable in the history of media in this country and why some publications and news services have a leftist or rightist slant. 

But, if you check the SHTF website you see that they sell survival gear and have been selling and promoting the end of the world since 2007. So well have they done this that they've predicted 11 out of the last 1 disasters.

Far be it from me to tell you not to be prepared or get ready for a financial calamity or natural disaster... But business can't be so bad for SHTF that they need to stoop to this level of reporting could it?

Sensationalism sure sells stuff... its track record on reporting the truth is pretty shockingly bad though.


Boo said...

Hmmm....strange that the guy who's been publishing articles all week about how Japan is headed for immanent collapse over debt now gets upset over someone "scare mongering" about something else. Afraid of a little scare-mongering competition Mike? :)

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Yeah, Boo.... Sometimes I impress even myself!!!!!

Kevin said...

Hear hear!

I'm living in Koriyama city, Fukushima prefecture, and everything you say about that article is spot on.

There is even one guy claiming in a comment on that article that the Japanese government has banned the purchase of Geiger counters. What absolute BS.


Anonymous said...

Truth of course , but with 100% scientific accuracy , no errors , tarnsparent record keeping , no oversights, taxpayer, only then can a fraud of this size be stopped..FULL discloser disclaimer

Anonymous said...

Regarding Asahi, it's how you look at things. They are one of the few channels brave enough to aggressively report on the dangers of Fukushima radiation and what the politicians are not doing about it. And Boo, Mike does have incredible biases regarding his Likes and Hates which often cloud his judgment and manifests in utter contradictions but at least he writes a mass of interesting things and keeps us amused if not convinced.

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