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Two years later

About 160,000 people were evacuated from the region surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the meltdown two years ago. There is still no clear indication of when it might be safe for them to move back home, and elderly evacuees are now having to face the possibility that they may never get the chance. Meanwhile, it seems like the Japanese government will soon have to bow to economic necessity and restart the reactors that were shut down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Engineers now have a much clearer idea of how to prepare for the next major earthquake. Hopefully this time they will get it right. This TV news report from inside the Fukushima exclusion zone is interesting, but in some places it tends towards blatant scaremongering rather than balanced journalism. In other news, The Atlantic has published a series of photos showing how Japanese towns and cities have recovered since the tsunami two years ago. It’s clear that there’s still an awful lot of rebuilding still to be done.

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Sukiyaki

The song Ue o muite arukō (上を向いて歩こう) by Kyū Sakamoto (坂本 九) was given the rather cheerful title of “Sukiyaki” when released in the West back in the early 1960s. The title actually means “I’ll look up as I walk”, and the song explains that this is because the singer doesn’t want to let his tears of sorrow fall to the ground. This stoical attitude to misfortune resonated strongly with the Japanese as they came to terms with last year’s disastrous earthquake and the events that followed. For example, in April the drinks manufacturer Suntory bought up advertising time on TV to lift people’s spirits with recordings of two Sakamoto songs sung by various celebrities who had appeared in Suntory adverts in the past. A rendering of Ue o muite arukō by artists including Tommy Lee Jones can still be seen on YouTube. But here’s the original version: Japanese Pronunciation Translation 上を向いて歩こう Ue o muite arukō I’ll look up as I walk 涙がこぼれないように Namida ga koborenai yō ni So the tears won’t fall 思い出す春の日 Omoidasu haru no hi As I remember those days in spring [More…]

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Exeter Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Appeal

I recently set up a new website for the Exeter Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Appeal, which is a fund-raising effort that will form part of this year’s Exeter Respect festival in Belmont Park over the weekend of 4th-5th June 2011. Preparations are still under way, but there should be something for everyone, including plenty of Japanese food. There will also be a performance by Kagemusha Taiko (Saturday 6:15 – 7 pm). Please come along if you are able. Entry to the park is completely free. Here’s the link: http://aid4japan.wordpress.com/

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Totnes Japan Day

Are you looking for something to do on Easter Saturday (April 23rd)? If you’re anywhere near Devon at the time, you might like to drop in at the Totnes Civic Hall, where a Japan Day has been organized to raise money for people affected by the earthquake and tsunami. The event runs from 10 am until 4 pm, and will include authentic Japanese food, workshops, tester therapy sessions and music. More details are available at the Creative Community Devon website. Here’s a map:

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Channel 5 documentary

This evening Channel 5 showed a rather depressing documentary following a British search & rescue team as they looked for survivors in the debris left behind after the tsunami and earthquake. They didn’t find any. It’s been estimated that there are now half a million homeless people in Japan. Please donate to the relief effort if you are able.

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Help for earthquake/tsunami victims

If you haven’t done so already, please consider making a donation to the British Red Cross to help with the relief efforts.

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Header image: Busy night-time traffic appears as trails of light in this long exposure shot of Akasaka-Mitsuke (赤坂見附) in Tokyo by user DarkFritz at Wikimedia Commons.

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