Tokyo is not Fukushima; Fukushima is not Fookooshimar

When I started off Japlogism.com I did state that I would not cover individual posts on Debito.org, but a recent comment thread has convinced me to break my promise, but I’ll not make a habit of it, I promise!

The comment from Mr Arudou was:

The logic becomes, “Radiation? Well, it must be safe, as all those other athletes are risking it. And I’m not losing my opportunity for a medal to some other jackasses who are willing to risk it.”

Unless they introduce Gutter Silt Swimming or fill the long jump pit with incinerator ash (in the first few months there was a definite problem with radioactive residue in Tokyo, but the current burning of residue from prefectures other than Fukushima has little more than just normal background as far as I am aware) anyone talking about radiation risk in Tokyo now, let alone 7 years later is either a scaremonger or ignorant, or both. That goes for both Mr Arudou and the athletes he imagines might consider this.

As for Fukushima not being Fookooshimar, Japan Times does a good article on the lack of exposure in everyone tested.

Oh, and as for the main reason for the thread, Hidehiko Nishiyama does appear to be an idiot, although one bureaucrat uttering "an incredibly racist insult" (I think that’s an over-reaction myself) doesn’t somehow prove that "racism being endemic in the heart of the Japanese state".

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63 Comments.

  1. @VK: Of course I do, stop being childish. You’ve already decided that if people left they are some kind of traitor in order to elevate yourself as a ‘good gaijin’. That’s why you desperately claw at any story of someone who left; to keep the idea of ‘flyjin’ alive, and remind people that since you weren’t one of ‘them’, you are such a ‘great guy’. Sad, pathetic, attention whore. You will always be nothing more than a curio to Japanese that don’t know you.

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  2. VK: the chief scientist’s job is to advise the govt. The Govt’s job is to advise the people. It is the Govt’s advice I was criticising. If you re-read my first post, you’ll see I started off by quoting:

    “British government advice”, which clearly advised people to “consider leaving the [Tokyo] area” due to Fukushima.

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  3. @James Annan:

    Hold on. Your original comment was about “smug revisionism”. You didn’t criticise the short statement.

    You want to quibble over what John Beddington’s job description was. Here’s how a lot of apparently “smug” people saw it at the time: An arm of the British government puts up advice by an employee of the British government addressed in part directly to British citizens (and others) living in Tokyo regarding radiation risks to Tokyo and draws the attention of British citizens living in Japan to it. That to me counts as advice from the British government. And it was good advice. Everything I’ve learnt subsequently suggests it was very well formed, and not some lucky guess.

    In any cae, my criticism was aimed at a BBC journalist, not someone struggling with access to good sources, or without competence and assistance in understanding them.

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  4. @Dug:

    Wow. Like Scipio (and our resident posh-boy anthropologist), you see this as a big racial thing, gaijin versus Japanese. That’s the lens you choose to look through. I don’t think it’s a healthy one.

    Bodin’s abrupt departure (she doesn’t dispute she gave notice three and a half hours before she was meant to be on air) put pressure on other people doing similar work – which would have been other Francophones, most likely foreign. She worked in a section that served the Francophone community – again, first and foremost foreigners, (although including Japanese spouses and children). At a time of crisis. But hey, you go ahead and turn it into a gaijin versus Japanese thing.

    The whole “fatwa” thing goes like this: From my own viewpoint, I question that she did the right thing in leaving as abruptly as she did, given the situation and the role she should have been performing. (By the way, contrary to what seems a sexist assumption, she wasn’t just mindlessly reading other people’s scripts, she was a translator too).

    You, and Scipio and others don’t simply say “I think that’s unfair in the circumstances”, you pretty much declare my views haraam.

    I certainly don’t criticise all flyjin. I’m just defending the right to question whether some of them did the right thing, not simply leaving, but in the manner that they left.

    Surely that’s not too complicated to understand, is it?

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  5. @Dug: It’s sad that you have such a poor relationship with your co-workers. Mine (Japanese and non-Japanese) have in fact helped me and my family while I’ve been hospitalized, and the rest of us have done the same for other co-workers when they’ve been seriously ill. Following the earthquake, we did in fact look after each other.

    You seem to have a very low opinion of your Japanese co-workers. Are you open with them about the issues you have, or do you just save it for us?

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  6. VK, the “smug revisionism” is over the way the advice has been subsequently misrepresented as having been along the lines of “nothing to worry about”. At the time, it was not so sanguine, as the record shows.

    It was not me who raised the issue of John Beddington. Your original comment was about “British government advice” which I have quoted back at you. Had I been Beddington, I would certainly have been pressing for the official advice to include a more clear statement of the (lack of) risk, rather than citing it as a reason to consider leaving. Of course, he might have been arguing for this behind the scenes. His own public comments were admirably clear, but he’s just one scientist, and the Govt advice took other factors into account as well as his input.

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  7. @James Annan:

    So it’s not ordinary Joes like me who were relying on Beddington you have a problem with, but FCO officials and their fans boasting afterwards? That might be fair; I don’t mix in those circles (although I imagine you might do on occasion).

    That said, compared to most diplomatic missions, I still think the British did pretty well – and I’m not usually a fan of the FCO (I can believe you if there has been arrogance subsequently). There were pressures to react to Fukushima, to be seen to be “doing” something. The French decision was purely political, for example. It would have been difficult to release an advisory that made no mention of Fukushima.

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  8. Dug’s already made up his racist mind. He literally put words in the Japanese’ mouth for us. I bet he’s a wuss like debito, jdg and eric c. Ie; got the fuck out

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  9. VK, certainly I was not raising any issue with people who made reasonable decisions based on the available evidence, but the topic seemed to be the role and nature of govt advice, which in the case of the UK, caused a certain amount of unnecessary (IMO) disquiet and trouble. Warning about possible disruption is one thing but their advice actually made it hard for some to make their own decisions, eg by voiding travel insurance for visitors. This did actually affect us directly, which may be why I’m sensitive to the matter.

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  10. Chrysanthemum Sniffer

    Guys, guys, guys. This uncharacteristically reasonable discussion is unseemly. Especially when you consider that Debito has just released a New York illegal sized Styrofoam cup of comedy gold by once again pissing all over successful foreign types in Japan.

    Ace CEO and former U.S. government negotiator Glen Fukushima? Self serving twat! University Professors Robin Sakamoto and Paul Snowdon? Country bumpkin and elitist snob, respectively! Patrick Harlen? One of those assholes who drops the fact that he went to an ivy-league school into every conversation! Oh, and not funny either! Daniel Kahl? Doesn’t know enough about the Otaru onsens case, thus is not qualified to speak on human rights.

    Can’t we talk about this please?

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  11. It’s tempting, although I think we should stick to where he’s published by someone else. (So if someone scans in his whole chapter and puts it up, that would be fair game and not at all a breach of copyright. :smile: )

    That said, a couple of things occurred to me about the title, At Home, Abroad. If Arudou hadn’t been in it (look, look, they’re talking about ME), he’d be having a hissy fit about it being microaggressively racist and othering. And anyway, in his case, isn’t that Hawaii? :grin:

    Oh, and Mr Arudou, as you’re reading, the world and his dog knows that Harvard is far better than Cornell. Well done Mr Harlan, sir.

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  12. @VK: I’m not touching that story (and please refrain people!), but I must say I am extremely tempted to copy-paste “to preserve the historical record”, as we know that things do get deleted and re-edited on Debito.org. :lol:

    As a general point, every time a foreigner/foreign-born breaks through a glass ceiling, Mr Arudou and his cohorts get busy erecting not just a replacement, but a second one higher-up, just in case… :roll:

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  13. @VK:

    I think the Brits were less than clear. The science advice was good and was some of the best discussion of the information provided in English. Political advice has a lot of other things to consider than just the science, including the effect of panic, logistics and money as well as public opinion and foreign relations.

    The FCO came up with different exclusions zone that they were changed to fit the US view, and both agree this was just made up based on an abundance of caution. And as already said, there advice on travel certainly made insurance a problem for sometime to visit the whole country.

    The advice came across as fence sitting and limiting liability. We’re not going to tell you to leave (but will arrange overly expensive charter flights), but you should probably leave if you can. Fortunately, the FCO did directly give access to it’s science advice and many people were smart enough weigh up the facts and best-guess well enough to make informed decisions. I wonder if the former NHK employee has a case against the French government, who was ultimately responsible for bad advice that affected her livelihood.

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