Recent News and Government Power in Japan

The news about the Japan situation has focused mostly on the clean-up these days, clean-up of the area and the TEPCO power plants. TEPCO reports actually seem to dominate the news, with them and the government kind of in a back-and-forth about what actually went down when the reactors melted or when they didn’t melt, or if it was an automatic or manual shut-down or whatever.

Much of the TEPCO clean-up also seems to revolve around who owes what to who and how much TEPCO has to pay and when. There are a few interesting stories about farmers demanding money, which might be their way of making sure they don’t get left out of the whole process.  As well, the usual reports of falsifying records and such seem to be ongoing still.

The most interesting story over the past month for me has been the shutdown of another Nuclear Power Plant that was deemed unsafe by government officials. I first heard of this through some students a few weeks ago, and we got into a discussion about how this story came about. I think they think I was dwelling on specifics or minor details too much, but I kept asking them to clarify if the government was Telling the plant to shut down, or Asking the plant to shut down.

It turns out that both are kind of true, and this shows something about culture here, and the way government is run. Technically, as the article above and this article state, it was a request. For me, it’s crazy to think that the government only requested that an unsafe plant be shut down…but after talking with the students for a while, it seems it was one of those “offers that can’t be refused” type of deals in that the government was actually telling them to shut down. This type of requesting is kind of normal in Japan, where society places a high value on duty and obligation. It just seems odd, to me, and makes me wonder who is ultimately  in charge of the country…especially when I read articles like this that talk about Chubu Electric Power Co’s Decision & Move.

Did they or did they not have a choice to keep the plant running?  And if it was unsafe, to a point where the government had to ask them to shut down, why would they have a choice?

Either way, problems are adding up and the long-term affects of the Three-disaster-sisters are continuing to show. Economic problems especially and Toyota and Sony look to be in big trouble. I’ve been asking people recently if they think they will ever see the end of Sony as a company.

 

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