Saturday, 30 October 2004

now it is not often that a post appears on a friday night (or really at 1am on saturday morning), so count yourselves lucky that this night is different than most.


Well, duped is too strong a word for it, but mislead seems a bit, well, too innocent. It all goes back to the anti-but-not-anti-Japan book I was reading earlier this month or so. One of the premises, which you may have picked up upon since, is the prevalence of concrete in the countryside, mainly on account of the Forestry and Something Else Ministry (last strategc policy review: Tokugawa Shogunate 1891). Anyway, the point of the chapter in the book was that far too much of Japan was under the extreme influence of concrete and that this was due to nefarious influences in various ministries in the government that took profit over progress any day. And I believed it lock stock and 2 etc etc.

So what has changed? Well simple really, nature. 3 weeks of rain and a magnitude 6 earthquake have wrought disaster on Niigata and Japan as a whole. "Oh woe" Mr Kerr said " the landscape is being destroyed by concrete and crap here in Japan". But I don't know now. I mean, part of me would like to think in this way and try to come across all superior like over the Japanese. But then again, who the fuck does Alex Kerr think he is when he says that Japan can survive inspite of its natural obstacles?

On wednesday I took the day off. It was for other reasons that I will come to in the fullness of time. However, the guru and I sat in a hospital at 1030 and we shook with everyone else as another 6-er shook Niigata. Later on that afternoon we watched the TV as the boy was dragged from the car.

It looked to me as if the bank above the road was mud. If this had been concreted over, would the boy's mother and sister survived? Would the car have been buried in the first place? Would this all have been prime time?

The artificial manipulation of the countryside here has always been something of a sore point as us enlightened westerners bemoan the apparent lack of care and thought that goes into the upkeep of the natural side of things. But how much empirical knowledge of typhoons and earthquakes can be gained from Hampshire, or anywhere else?

This post isn't particularly eloquent or, for that matter, sensical. But it will have to do for now. The point is, if not clear, is how can we criticise if we don't know?

PS however, as a journo asked in the yomiuri the other day, we are pretty much up to date with the "and how does this earthquake make you feel?" type questions so far, but why is there such a lack of questuions such as:
Hmm, Niigata's nuclear power stations, how do they stand up to a magnitude 6 earthquake?
Oh? Have you shut them down yet?
So after the Hanshin earthquake in 1995, what lessons did you learn?
So knowing that supplying stranded people by air was a priority, why did it take 4 days to get helicopters to the disaster site?
A supplementary budget to cover disasters costs will take how long to ratify?
Yes but people are starving and freezing right now...?
So let me get this straight, there are lots of US military personnel in Japan right now and they are doing what to help?

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