Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 7 News Roundup

Humanitarian News:
It seems that the confirmed dead/missing numbers have stopped growing, now the numbers are shifting from one column to the other as they get identified. Approximately 83% of the bodies recovered have been identified.

Current numbers as of Thursday April 7 are 12,600 dead and 15,000 missing. (source: NHK World)

News News:
Japan has asked the international media to cut it out. "It," in this case, is reporting on the current nuclear situation by concentrating on extreme projections and giving misleading or erroneous information.

Example of misleading: giving the impression that the people that died at the site have died because of the radiation situation; they died or were found dead as a direct result of the quake and tsunami, not the radiation. No one has died from radiation exposure.

Example of erroneous: they are not drafting homeless people to contain the radiation. (EDIT: my understanding from much later is that they actually did do that.)

The effect of this sensationalist reporting is that it's leading to public distrust of Japanese products, and all the bans and lack of demand could hurt the economy, which is the last thing a country the size of California needs when recovering from a record-breaking natural disaster. (source: Kyodo News)

Nuclear News:
The nuclear-related headlines are becoming less frequent; I take that as a good sign.

The operation to inject the No. 1 reactor with nitrogen to reduce the risk of hydrogen explosion has gone smoothly. (source: Kyodo News)

There had been a under the No. 2 reactor that was getting radioactive water spilling out all willy-nilly, but that has since been fixed. There is a possibility that there is another leak elsewhere, but they aren't sure yet. (source: Kyodo News)

The U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (the guys that rate the severity of nuclear incidents) has rated Fukushima a 6, somewhere between 3MI and Chernobyl. Before you panic, remember that there is a world of difference between the severity of the two. The plant is so close to the ocean that impacts on humans will be minimal and the head of the rating organization says that the Japanese evacuation zone of 20km is appropriate. (source: Kyodo News)

There are high levels of radioactivity in the seawater near the plant. If it's iodine-131, it's not that big a deal because it has a half life of 8 days. Everything I've seen so far indicates that this is the case. Click this text to read a Kyodo News FAQ about eating fish that may be contaminated by radiation. I really think oil spills have had a much more significant effect on the environment than this nuclear incident has or will.

Life is improving for the workers at the Fukushima plants; now they get three meals a day with better food and one employee that was interviewed got a day off after five working days and visited his wife and son in the Tokyo area. (source: Kyodo News)

Daily Life News:
Unfortunately, we're about to experience a beer shortage, both Sapporo and Asahi had plants damaged in the earthquake. Sapporo was able to bottle and can the beer brewed before the quake, but haven't yet been able to brew more. Noooooo! (source: Kyodo News)

Kirin will resume normal beer brewing operations in Sendai by September. (source: Kyodo News)

The subway system in the city of Sendai reopened March 22, it's set to resume full operation by April 29. (source: NPR, Kyodo News)

Britain has relaxed their travel advisory, Tokyo is off the list of places to avoid. (source: Kyodo News)

Researchers in Kobe have created a retina from stem cells. SCIENCE! (source: NHK World)

This is the season for hanami! This is where people have a picnic in the parks to socialize and appreciate the sakura (cherry blossoms). I hear the mayor of Tokyo isn't endorsing it this year, but last weekend people were still at Yoyogi Park hanging out and having a good time. (I wasn't there, so I didn't get any photos, but hopefully I will soon.)
(Photo taken on base, lightly Photoshopped to counteract the blinding sun in my face and less-than-professional quality of my iPhone camera.)

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