“As a highly developed country, Japan is well prepared for the natural disasters that frequently strike its islands – earthquakes, typhoons and (in some regions) volcanic eruptions. So even large-scale earthquakes such as the one striking the Niigata region in 2004 claim relatively few lives – back then, only around 100 people died, while in a less developed country an earthquake of the same size would have left thousands of people dead. So people have learned to live with the constant threat and have maybe developed a sense of security, especially in urban regions where infrastructure is good and most buildings are recent. But the Great Eastern Earthquake of 2011 shattered that sense, since its tsunami (not the quake itself) caused destruction beyond any imagination. Flood walls could not resist the masses of water, and the incident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant demonstrated that the planning of the plant had not taken into account such an event. Any country would have been shocked by a catastrophe of this size, but in Japan with its high level of engineering and its faith in technology to solve problems, the shock was probably bigger as everyone would have assumed to be sufficiently prepared and therefore safe. The confusion around the nuclear meltdown and the fact that radiation is invisible surely contributed to the overall anxiety, as no one was really sure about the long-term consequences. While people have widely been indifferent to where their energy comes from, an anti-nuclear movement supported by wide parts of the populations has established in the years following the catastrophe.”

Tokyo Radiant by Philipp Zechner (2/4)

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