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japan nuclear meltdown explosion

Japanese workers are on a suicide mission, if need be, to save their country from nuclear meltdown. Meanwhile the Japanese politeness bubble is preventing the facts from getting out.

Japan Nuclear Meltdown, Japan Meltdown, Japan Nuclear, GE, World News

Japan’s Heroic Battle Against A Nuclear Melt-Down

The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is moving into uncharted territory as workers deliberately risk their lives, and at least their health, to battle an ongoing nuclear melt-down. One worker, identified by the Japanese news service, NHK, is a 59 year old man who was just 6 months away from retirement- in agreeing to stay and battle the nuclear melt-down he was encouraged by his wife who urged him to “do your best to save the nation.”

Despite what is emerging as a heroic effort by workers on site to battle a nuclear melt-down, every hour seems to carry more bad news. What began as a crisis of one nuclear reactor has become an international nuclear crisis featuring three explosions, two fires, and radiation spikes that can be felt over 200 miles away (albeit not to deadly proportions outside of the 12 mile evacuation zone).

While the GE workers who were on site, as part of an ongoing GE contract to maintain the GE produced reactors, fled and were withdrawn by GE, the Japanese workers have stayed and are almost certainly in jeopardy of being over-exposed to high levels of radiation.

Getting to the truth, however, has been somewhat sketchy as information flowing out of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Energy Company (TEPCO) and the government has often been vague or outright wrong in light of actual observable events. As a “for instance”, while TEPCO and the government were touting the line that there is “no appreciable health risk”, the government was sending in workers in radiation-protection suits to test evacuees and some 190 persons have experienced some form of “radiation sickness.”

Part of the problem appears to be cultural, The Japanese pride themselves in being polite, which often translates to not being too direct. One American teacher in a news interview explained this with a story about how he was scolded once for asking for a day off. The problem wasn’t that he wanted a day off, the problem was his directness- he was told he should HINT about a NEED for a day off, thus giving his boss an opportunity to show magnanimity by OFFERING him a day off. By asking directly for a day off, he was being “rude” and not letting his boss have an opportunity to OFFER him the day off without having to be directly asked.

This may explain why the Japanese had such a hard time with asking for foreign aid during the Kobe earthquake crisis. By asking directly, not giving the foreign governments a chance to see the need and offer help, the Japanese would have been “rude.” This time around the US and other governments were very pro-active in offering help, and therefore the Japanese were able to quickly accept that help.

As TEPCO and the Government release news and information, observers who are aware of the Japanese culture of politeness are trying to “read between the lines” to see what is REALLY being said, while, for their part, the Japanese seem to be getting more direct, realizing that most foreign observers will not get their indirectness. Last night the Japanese government spokesman announced the withdrawal of workers from the plant and, in a very un-Japanese manner, was extremely explicit. He said that the workers were all withdrawn, that not even a minimal amount of work could be done, and that efforts to combat the nuclear meltdown were at a stand-still.

This directness is not customary and, while in America we expect such directness, in Japan, this directness is itself an alarming sign of how serious things are. Because these things were said to the Japanese audience, in Japanese, it may not be so easy to dismiss the directness as a concession to foreign observers, although it may in fact be pressure from foreign governments that is compelling the Japanese to speak so directly.

If over-statement is a characteristic of the middle eastern cultures, from time immemorial, under-statement is a characteristic of many far-eastern cultures. The West’s penchant for exactitude is seen as being “unsophisticated” by both cultures, leading to much confusion as to meaning and intent.

In their own sophisticated way, the Japanese are telling a tale of a massive localized crisis that could potentially have greater health implications for a larger region if it is not contained by what may amount to a suicide mission on the part of workers in the plant affected. A middle easterner might call this “Armageddon” while a far easterner might call this “somewhat of a serious problem, potentially”, but the exact truth, in this case, may be somewhere in the middle.

However you see it, most all agree that the heroic workers are battling a monster and their willingness to lay down their lives if need be, where others fled, is truly dramatic! Nobody faults the GE workers for leaving, even if they fault GE itself for the technology and their failure to foresee such a crisis, and this only makes the sacrifice the Japanese workers are willing to make all the more praise-worthy.

To risk your life in general is worthy of praise, but to risk your life against such danger, and almost certainty of serious harm, in a cause that is not likely to succeed, is beyond what anyone could ask.

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