Interesting Times Tokyo/Tohoku: “The most terrifying situation I can imagine.”

 In all honesty, I don’t know what to make of all this. Is Japan really at 95% chance of nuclear catastrophe within the next three years, as noted Canadian scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki asserts? The possibility is so hard to get one’s head around that no-one I know here in Japan really thinks about it. Guess it’s like climate change: the problems are so big, the dangers so immense, but the dangers seeming so remote, or so far in the future, or so far beyond our ability to control, that it doesn’t trigger our lizard brains, our instinct for survival. As a result, the 35+ million people in the metropolitan Tokyo area, not to say the rest of Japan, go about their lives as if nothing will happen. And indeed, nothing may. On the other hand, scientists at the University of Tokyo are apparently predicting that there’s a 70% that “The Big One” will hit Tokyo by 2016. I don’t hear denial. What I hear and see is people, including me, shocked into inaction by the enormity of it all. Plus a generous dose of displacement: “It won’t happen to me.”

So. Catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis. Nuclear crises. Global warming. Industrial-Revolution-era income disparity. Am I missing anything?

Is it just me, getting older, crotchety? Or is this really the “interesting times in that apparently faux-Ancient Chinese-wisdom curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Indeed.


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