Friday, April 01, 2011


A few people have asked about what the Japanese people think of the way the Japanese government is handling the nuclear situation. Remember... talking politics is treading dangerous waters. I'm sure a lot of people would disagree with me but here goes.

The Japanese government is normally in a state of flux. The Prime Minister changes so often that it is hard to keep up with who is now in charge... or rather which party is now in charge. The two major parties are constantly bickering, constantly trying to drag the other party off the pole and then there is more bickering and splitting into sanctions within the parties so that I can't keep it all straight. Whenever a Prime Minister changes (after a few months they give up or are crushed by scandals... scandals suddenly discovered by the opposing party) then the whole cabinet changes. Ministers get moved around. Last month's Welfare Minister is this month's Commerce Minister. What I'm saying is, that from my dumb foreigner position it seems like there is no professional in charge of anything. They haven't had time to learn the ropes let alone put their specialty (if they have one) into action.

So. Right now Japan is in a state of emergency. There are a couple of new ministers that I hadn't been aware of that are now playing center stage. The Prime Minister has spoken to the people asking for patience and trust and cooperation. Sort of the normal leadership speech. But the current Prime Minister is criticized for his poor leadership abilities (so were the last 4 prime ministers). Anyway, the reports from the government about the nuclear situation in Fukushima is that things are bad, the radiation levels are high, but outside of the 20 kilometer zone, that the rest of the population is not in danger.

Do the Japanese people trust their government? That is the question.

Okay, I know what I think. I've asked Tetsu his opinion. I've talked with a few housewives and English students. By far the most interesting opinion was Mr. Furui's (he's a physicist). But remember... all of us are the people who have chosen to stay in the immediate area... which means we trust the government. Those people who have left for other parts of Japan obviously do not trust the reports given by the Japanese government.

So all of us (including Mr. Furui) think that while the Japanese government is somewhat ineffectual, extremely slow to made decisions, and doesn't have a lot of power to get things in motion; we do NOT think that it is dishonest.

So, the answer is that yes, the people residing in Japan basically trust the government. We do not think dangers are being hidden from us. In this day and age, there are too many ways for the public to get live information from the Internet and that there are too many scientists and experts that are on the TV analyzing information and applying it, to make it possible for the wool to be pulled over our eyes. There is a government subsidised broadcasting station (NHK) that specializes in news but there are other private TV broadcasting stations that freely criticize the way things are being handled. We do not believe that our news is being filtered as we have heard it is done in China and North Korea.

However, trusting the government and having confidence in it are two different things.

...In my humble opinion. (I've never been too interested in the way the Japanese government works.)

(Picture from the Internet.)

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