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Inside Looking Out, Part Two

Pamela Runestad, a PhD candidate in medical anthropology at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, continues her account from Japan. Here is an excerpt:

I really wish I knew how dangerous the situation really is. On one hand, the Japanese government doesn’t want people to panic and the local media keeps repeating that current radiation levels (where?!) are not hazardous to health. On the other, the non-Japanese media seem to feed on the idea of impending doom. Most recently, the Japanese government via a bulletin on NHK World English actually asked foreign governments to calm down, to “accurately convey information provided by Japanese authorities concerning the plant.” In this squabble, each party has a vested interests; digging out helpful information is tedious and disheartening.

Should I stay or should I go?

To read the full “Inside Looking Out, Part Two” or the first part, go to the Triangle Center for Japanese Studies.

One Response

  1. I’m struck with astonishment. Nagano where Mrs.Runestad stays is my hometown. My parents live in that prefecture.
    I study anthropology in Jogyakarta, Indonesia. I’ve ever experienced the riot in Jakarta 1998, and then suffered the disaster of Volcano Merapi eruption here last year. Therefore I can understand her mental condition well. In case of Jakarta riot, I recall that a lot of food and drink disappeared quickly from convenience stores. It happened suddenly. I witnessed the syndrome of people in uneasy situation. But it didn’t take so long time until resume.
    Of course present situation in Japan she is suffering is far different from incident/disaster I experienced. However let me note three points.
    First: Nagano is far from Fukushima nuclear plant, about 160 miles. Supposing high level radiation reach to Nagano (but it’s impossible), Nagano won’t be the place she cannot came back long time. Nevertheless if she and students are worried seriously, moving to Kansai (western area in Japan) is good idea.
    Second: She seems to be impacted with a novel Black Rain or 黒い雨. But please recall. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki generated huge mushroom clouds, height of 45.000 feet. Accident of nuclear power plant won’t. It’s impossible that northeast local clouds bring radiation-laced raindrops to mid and western area of Japan.
    Third: As her friends told, I could say “if you leave, no one will blame you,” since I felt so last year in the volcanic ashes falling.

    I pray her and whoever study in Japan to stay smart and safe. If any need, I’ll help.

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