Responses to Patrick Budmar’s June 12 Zeit Gist article, ” ‘Flyjin’ feel vindicated, worry for those left in Japan:

Don’t offer stage to Chicken Littles

Ivan Stout and “Kate” may feel vindicated, but they certainly hold themselves up to continued derision by their rationalizations, lack of understanding of nuclear energy, and reliance on international naysayers. They left Japan based on supposition and fear-mongering from the international press following the disasters of 3/11, and continue to (believe the media hype) even today.

Statements in the article, particularly from Mr. Stout, demonstrate his gullibility and Chicken Little-like intellect. Especially, these three: “My primary source of reliable information came through the Internet,” “If reactor building 4 collapses, Kanto is finished” and “Tokyo is still in danger of being lost.”

At times after the March 2011 disasters, I too felt like packing up and moving on. This was mostly due to the fact that the darn ground just would not stop shaking, day after day after day, but also because I was embarrassed by the reactions of my fellow expats who held themselves up as experts on Japan to the international media.

The one concern I did not have was that myself or my family were going to be irrevocably irradiated due to the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima reactors. Thanks to where I work within the Kanto Plain, and I won’t disclose that, I could check the live radiation readings, both ground- and aerial-based, at any moment, broken down into component parts. At no time, even up until today, have the levels in the Kanto region risen to a level that should cause concern, let alone alarm, for any rational human being.

Please stop giving a stage to the “flyjin” who continue, from afar, to deride Japan and this wonderful country’s response to an impossible situation. Instead, give voice to those brave souls who continue to live quiet yet proud lives in the Tohoku region. They’re the ones who have a story worth telling.


We all have a choice

Fight or flight — that’s what we are designed to do. “Flyjin” is a mean-spirited term, but I think it is just as mean to suggest that the 127 million people that have remained in Japan are somehow not in control of their own destinies.

Not being in Japan is not going to help change anything here.


Terrible disconnect from reality

In the article about the fate of two “flyjin,” Stout and Kate, why is no mention made of the hundreds, if not thousands, of wealthy Japanese who fled Japan just after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster struck the Tohoku region and beyond?

The residents of Kanto are living now under a Damoclean sword, with the fate of Tokyo now resting upon whether or not reactor 4 at the Fukushima No. 1 plant can be salvaged. It appears that everything is still uncertain.

The only things that any of us can say for certain are that the Japanese government is not to be trusted with the welfare of its overly trusting citizens, and that the “nuclear village” in Japan is one of duplicity and lies, and has enjoyed the sometimes unethical support of high-ranking government officials for many decades now.

One should have reckoned that the Japanese government could never be trusted with a horrendous disaster like that in Fukushima after it handled the Chisso Minamata disease crisis in like manner, dissembling to the public and refusing to hold those corporate officials accountable for their gross negligence in this ongoing case of toxic pollution and human tragedy.

Fukushima is very similar to the Minamata case, but exceeds it in scale many times over. If such a nuclear disaster had occurred in any other G-8 nation, the outcry would have been so loud that the very foundations of the government in power would have been shattered forever. It is amazing that things returned to “business as usual” just days after the meltdown at Fukushima — so normal in fact that Tepco made inquiries about building two new nuclear reactors in the very same location where the stricken plants are still spewing out radioactive waste.

There’s an element of insanity in all of this — a terrible disconnect from reality that boggles the imagination of this writer. It’s one thing to sweep a financial scandal under the tatami in the Diet, but to grossly distort the very real risks facing Japan after the meltdowns of March 2011 is beyond belief.

Do these politicians have no compassion for the people they supposedly represent? Money politics is one thing, but what is a human life worth, or the health of a newborn child? What of the decades- or centuries-long damage to Japan’s ecosystem?

And you wonder why fewer and fewer women in Japan are bothering to have children? Tohoku is a “dead zone,” at least around the Fukushima region.

Does anyone in the Diet fully appreciate the magnitude of this? Or care? Sorry to be so cynical, but neither former Prime Minister Naoto Kan or the current P.M., Yoshihiko Noda, give me cause to feel otherwise.

Cynicism should be the guiding light in Japan’s immediate future. Trust no politician.

Winona, Missouri

Japan the same as it ever was

The last sentence — “I hope to live long enough to one day return to the credible, safe country I once knew” — makes no sense. Japan was Japan before 3/11 and still is. Foreigners like the ones in the article lived in a bubble here. The new reality they talk of has always been the reality; they just didn’t see it or decided not to, like most Japanese and foreigners.

So long as their abrupt departure didn’t cost those who stayed behind money, who cares? People can leave whenever they want — just don’t act like before 3/11 Japan was so “clean.”


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