My Thoughts on the Tragedy of the Fukushima Disaster

Nearly two weeks have passed since the disastrous events of March 11th, but the deadly results still linger. Fukushima is perhaps one of the most devastated areas, for not only did it experience the wrath of the quake and tsunami, but it is also undergoing the effects and looming threat of the multiple near melt-downs of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. As falsified safety reports, past cover-ups and classifications of the event as a nuclear disaster emerge as ominously as the smoke rising from the reactors, a shadow is being cast on Fukushima and the surrounding area that I fear is eclipsing the true beauty of the land in the eyes of the world.

I actually had an opportunity to visit the Fukushima prefecture about a year ago while on a business trip. It was during the peak of winter’s beauty, and I recall distinctly the look of the snow-capped mountains as they lay silently in the distance like gentle waves of earth and rock. I had the wonderful experience of visiting Goshiki-numa, a cluster of volcanic lakes at the foot of Mount Bandai and a truly mystical place. The bodies of water shift from delicate cobalt blues to pungent greens and rustic reds throughout the year, like an organic palette of swirling paints. Fukushima is also a lovely place because of the mountains that form its backdrop. During the same trip, I also had the chance to visit other parts Tōhoku – the whole region has an abundance of the beauty that I sampled in the Fukushima prefecture. I’ll admit, my favorite part of visiting Tōhoku was actually the delightful accents the inhabitants have – equal in quaintness to the Southern accents one encounters in America. You can always make the locals smile by bidding them Oban desu, or good evening. It saddens me greatly to see these idyllic lands subjected to such devastation and catastrophe. Moreover, I’m saddened to realize that, until March 11th of this year, most of the world hadn’t heard of Fukushima or Tōhoku before, much less of their natural wonders or the good people who live there. I fear that, instead of thinking of the azure pools of Goshiki-numa, the images that come to people in other countries will be of a fire-ridden nuclear power plant and villages awash with debris. At the mention of the word Fukushima, people won’t think of charming accents or the welcoming sight of snow-capped mountains, but a disaster zone reminiscent of Chernobyl. Perhaps one of the longest-lasting effects of the disaster will be the reputation Fukushima now has – long after the traces of radiation have dissipated, the images of a conflagrated nuclear reactor and headlines of evacuations will prove to have much longer half-lives.

Not all is lost, however. While the world may temporarily have these memories of Fukushima, Miyagi and other affected prefectures that belie their true attractiveness, the reputation of those who live there and the people of Japan shines brightly. Natural beauty may ravaged for the time being, but the courage and strength of the people who live here is beginning to eclipse the chaos and havoc that swept the region. Something tells me that, with that particular brand of resilience unique to the Japanese, the regions will emerge from the events of the last two weeks to an even brighter future than before.

– Dominique

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~ by Japan Blog Review on March 22, 2011.

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