Saturday, September 17, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Tonga Man Starts Teaching English in Fukushima

to show the world that "Fukushima is OK".

Some people have ridiculed the Bayerische Staatsoper members who refuse to come to Japan for a few weeks for the radiation contamination fear. They should be all praise for this man from Tonga, who persuaded friends and family members and came to Japan to teach English in Iwaki City in Fukushima.

Personally, I cannot join in the praise but feel free.

From Jiji Tsushin (9/17/2011):


"Fukushima" has become world-famous thanks to the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant Accident. In schools in Fukushima, 52 new teachers from 10 different countries have started teaching English as ALT (assistant language teacher). Their families and friends back in their home countries are worried, but the teachers are determined "to show to the world that Fukushima is alright, by working in Fukushima".


"In my country, we dip sashimi in coconut milk", said a 35-year-old teacher ペセティ・ベア [I haven't a slightest idea how this name is spelled] from Tonga in the south Pacific, as a way to introduce himself to the class on the morning of September 5 at Iwaki City Taira Daiichi Junior High School. Part of Iwaki City is within the 30-kilometer radius from the power plant, and more than 300 people perished in the March 11 tsunami. The students laughed. It was the first class, and at first the students were nervous. But as they listened to the stories from a distant country they relaxed, and enjoyed a "telephone game". A 13-year-old girl said, "I don't like English but it looks like fun with this teacher".


Mr. ペセティ・ベア was teaching English at a local high school in Tonga before he applied for the ALT. He says he wanted to learn the Japanese culture of "respecting others". Once his teaching assignment turned out to be in Fukushima, his friends and family worried about radiation exposure, but he steadfastly persuaded them by saying "People live in Fukushima. There is no need to fear excessively."

That's akin to saying "If the food is sold in the market, it is safe", a la the mayor of Yokohama City who fed kindergarteners with radioactive beef. And for Fukushima, it seems impossible to fear excessively when the radiation level is already excessive.

As to the Japanese culture of "respecting others", I have my doubts that "others" only refers to people with money or power or both.

But it's just me.

In the above Jiji's article, I put Fukushima in parenthesis, as the original Japanese. The original Japanese for Fukushima is written in Katakana, instead of Kanji, indicating "Fukushima" as understood outside Japan.


Anonymous said...

Let's call a spade a spade. Anyone person dumb enough to move to Fukushima right now is an idiot!

Anonymous said...

How is this supposed to be related to Bayerische Staatsoper situation or decision? Four weeks in Tokyo living in a hotel vs. daily life for an unlimited time in 30km distance from the plant. These are worlds apart.

The only commonality is "Japan" here.

Anonymous said...

lack of respect of those who do not wish to go to Fukushima (or not go to Kanto or not go to Japan) and love and thereofore care about their family's health and do not want to get irradiated, well the lack of respect in their value and decision is not called respect of others, it is called disrespect. And not only disrespect in those, but also in disprespect for them own self.

Anonymous said...

Took one too many ripe coconut hits to the head while on the beach.

Anonymous said...

Actors, politician and English teachers from Tonga all agree they think it is safe, well that's great when they get some staunch nuclear critics to agree maybe they'll be right. I'm sure this guy is going to be treated like a prince because of his positive attitude. There is always going to be a decent sized segment of society that wants everything to be OK and normal and anything that helps reinforce that notion will be welcome.

Anonymous said...

A yes man?

Anonymous said...

The nuclear industry is full of shitbags who promote the image that "all is fine in Japan"...EVERY TEPCO EXECUTIVE AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL SHOULD BE FORCED TO LIVE AT THE PLANT TO PROVE IT...

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of Goya's Saturn Eating children,it's not a vote winner among the children.

Anonymous said...

Probably kind but also foolish.

When it comes to endangering children by minimizing the risks, I draw the line. Frankly, it becomes criminal.

I think it will take a while for large sections of the Japanese society to react, but actually there is more than I suspected, and this blog contributes more than its fair share.

Thank you and please continue.

Even if not much can be done right now, at least all this should be documented.

Anonymous said...

You couldn't get me to live in Fukushima for all the radioactive tea in Shizuoka.

Viola said...

@ anon 9/17, 7:50 PM

Yes, of course, these are worlds apart! The risk in Tokyo is much less than in Fukushima Prefecture - well, maybe... Have a look on that famous Yamashita-interview at Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: People want clear answers. Where is it safe? And where is it not?

Yamashita: We don't have those answers. When people ask me: "Are doses below 100 millisievert 100 percent safe?" Then I have to answer as a scientist: "I don't know."

Not to talk about internal radiation that spreads around whole Japan by radiated food.

Mankind always tends to fade out awkward truth; we did after Chernobyl, we'll do after Fukushima. It's just too easy to put aside studies that were done in russian: only a few people will be able to read them, so noone cares about. Exactly like Japanese.... Do we really need another catastrophy taking place in an english-speaking country to be sure everyone will be conscious about the fatal consequences of accidents "beyond design based"? Do we really want to have proper statistics for the price of deseases, death, aborts, deformations? You can see all of these if you have a look at Chernobyl...
And yes, I know, "chances" are small for people who only stay in Japan fo a short periode of time, but that's not the point!
The point is: stop downplaying consequences, stop this stupid way of thinking economic factors should be more worthful than human beings!

The common is not "Japan" here, the common is lack of truthfullness by governments, scientists, nuclear power dudes...

Anonymous said...

I'm American, and I was in Fukushima last Friday. I have lots of friends and colleagues there.

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