Japan disaster: Forgotten News


                                           (Source: http://nukesofhazardblog.com/images/user/1630/fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-plant.jpg) 

In March 
2011 Japan’s most powerful earthquake since records began struck the north-east coast, triggering a gigantic tsunami and causing a state of emergency to be declared. The shock was so powerful it lowered the coastline by a metre and nudged Japan two metres closer to the United States. Residents near nuclear plants were evacuated as fears of leaks spread leading some to compare the situation to the Chernobyl disaster. Coverage of this shocking and upsetting natural disaster was certainly extensive. 

Less than a year on however and the news on Japan is seemingly silent. Never are we told what the current situation is or how people are coping. Everything is not back to normal. The situation is alarming. Not only are high levels of radiation still being discovered but it seems lessons from the disaster have not been learnt. 

Fears of radiation are everywhere near Fukushima. Men, women and children wander the streets with masks and carry umbrellas to protect against black radioactive rain. They no longer shop for fresh food – “the older the safer now”, says one Twitter user.  Health concerns are also widespread with people having to readjust and accept radiation levels which were previously considered unsafe. This is not tolerable and should be making the international news. 

In addition, it is easy to question whether the Japanese government are taking the aftermath of the disaster seriously. Japanese news has reported the possibility of Japan opening their tsunami hit nuclear disaster site as a tourist destination. The government’s time, money and efforts would be better spent testing radiation levels and continuing relief efforts. Even then, there is no certainty that things will improve but at least it is a start. The unsettling thing about this kind of radiation is that it can be years before its true effects are known. 

The debris-covered streets are now clean and the demolished buildings mostly rebuilt but the scars from the tremor remain.  The government must realise the mistakes it has made in the aftermath of the disaster and work to improve the situation. In time, life will hopefully readjust and find some sort of equilibrium. 

Laura Owen  26.01.12

Forgotten News

Each day new stories appear in the headlines. Another development in the Arab Spring, another change in long running criminal cases, or a natural disaster that suddenly fills the front pages. What about the old stories? Do
people not 
want to read about these anymore? Who decides whether old stories are still of interest to the public or not?

A case in point is Egypt. In January 2011 the uprising in Egypt began and took control of the headlines. Of course, this was a hugely important event in history and served as a catalyst for similar protests to capture the Arab world so justifiably deserved extensive coverage. The happenings in Egypt were inescapable for those who even took a fleeting look at a front page of a newspaper or happened to hear one minute of the lunchtime news. 

But what is the situation in Egypt now? A glance of the headlines does not really inform us. Of course, some coverage is given to the current elections, but what is happening on the streets of Egypt and what are the thoughts of Egyptians? 

In fact, the situation in Egypt is in reality still unsettled. “To live in Cairo these days is to live in constant disorientation” quotes one Twitter user. Indeed, it does not take a lot of research to see that many people in Egypt are unhappy. More and more religion is becoming involved in political decisions and it is dangerous. Remember the situation in France where around 50% of the population was killed in civil war between Catholics and Protestants? Egypt needs to be careful to avoid a similar situation. 

Unrest on the street also still continues, despite elections which should be calming the situation. Civilians still remain angry at the security forces that seem to still be in control. Security forces appear angry with civilians for having an opinion and voicing it. It is a continuing struggle and innocent civilians are the people getting hurt. 

Although not as severe as a year ago, the discontent in Egypt is obvious when looked for.

News really is forgotten rather quickly these days. We must do our own research to remain truly up-to-date with those stories which are there one day and gone the next. The fact that they have disappeared from the news does not mean that they are no longer important. 

Laura Owen  13.01.12

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