Still on the reader suggestions* for themes about Japan, The Big Smile (German link, but with lovely pictures) suggested a topic:

…the earthquake and what traces it left. Traces in the outer world (buildings, nature, etc.) and in the people living in Japan.

There are collection boxes everywhere -around the shops, in railway stations, even in the airport.

In my in-laws house the ’emergency packs’ -which every family should have for each person- have been checked and restocked, and have been moved from under the stairs to a more accessible location by the front door.

A big supermarket in town has a big display showing emergency packs and signs saying “Be prepared”. It also has a big map purporting to show the extent of the flooding ‘If the same thing happened here’.

A disaster is good for sales after all.

I thought the economic downturn and increasing petrol prices after the disasters would have got more people walking or cycling.

This does not seem to be the case.

Possibly this is because we are so far away from the disaster itself: we aren’t supplied by the oil refineries that were destroyed, energy is still cheap, and the local power stations are still working, so people carry on as normal.

A friend who took two trucks of aid to the North-East found the local Red Cross were bogged down in red tape, and the army stopped delivering one hot meal a day to the refugee centre -in fact now the government are suggesting people should stop volunteering to help, because the people in the area should “rise up” and rebuild. They’ve no money, infrastructure, fuel, transport or materials, but they should just get on with it and sort themselves out.

She gets the impression the government is giving up.

Television studios are running the occasional story about rebuilding. The media is rarely critical of the government -not as they are in Europe anyway- so this isn’t covered as we would expect it to be. Most media stories look like ‘feel good’ pieces about companies restarting or children getting back to school.

The strange thing about all this is that if we’d stayed on the train in Tokyo it would have carried us through the area about thirty minutes later.  And yet everywhere else it’s pretty well business as usual. Even the nuclear lobby has hardly been affected by the Fukushima explosion. They have the support of the government, the opposition and the trade unions: they are still calling the tune.

Or at least most of the time: there were plans to build a nuclear power station on the coast about twenty kilometres away from where I am now.

Fukushima nailed that one, thank goodness.

*Does anyone else have an idea for a blog post about Japan? I’ve still got a week.