That's the feeling I get from the two recent events I'm following. It is the feeling of "Let's just forget about it, there's nothing we can do anyway", which has served the country, for good or bad, for centuries.
First, there was a face-to-face interview (1/10/2012 Japan Time) by independent journalist Yasumi Iwakami of the Minami Soma City woman who's been documenting her health problems since the summer of 2011. Emiko Numauchi, aka "Numayu", happened to be a cheerful, forward-looking ex-high school teacher who said she intended to live until the age of 120 and that she was comfortable with "causes unknown" for her health problems. The video of the interview is not yet on the archive at Iwakami's website, but there are many tweets of people who viewed in Japan in real time.
This "Togetter" captures not just her remarks but the comments by Shinzo Kimura, radiation specialist who has appeared in many NHK documentaries on radiation contamination in the aftermath of the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident. On Ms. Numauchi's health problems, Kimura says, "stress, stress, stress, and stress":
It is an immune disease caused by stress. Teeth, nails, hair falling off, that's auto-immune disease. So is skin inflammation. Time-lag [?]. It is not caused by radiation, but she is still a victim of the nuclear accident. There's individual difference. There may be some effect of radiation exposure.
Difference in radiation levels. I passed through Minami Soma City back in March. High levels of radiation. If you lived in that area it is possible that the radiation exposure has something to do with [the health problems]. Depending on where you live, if the radiation level is low, it is possible that the problems are caused by stress.
We cannot explain the mechanism of auto-immune diseases. For example, Mr. Iwakami can tolerate a lot of stress. You cannot tell from a person with high tolerance for stress. There's individual difference. A rabbit may die of loneliness. It's possible for humans. To say stress [is causing these health problems] is appropriate.
It is an auto-immune disease. Stress can cause kidney diseases. It is highly possible. If you don't think it is stress, then collect data and determine. Internal radiation exposure [is assessed] by counseling [??]
I won't know the exact details of what Kimura said in the program until I view the video yet to be uploaded. But from other tweets the above seems to summarize what he did say.
Does he make sense? If you live in areas with low radiation levels and you have health problems starting to happen after March 11, 2011, then these problems are caused by stress. If you live in areas with high radiation levels, it is probably still stress causing these problems.
Never mind that Ms. Numauchi kept saying she was far more stress-free after she quit her job as a public high school teacher.
There are so many tweets that outright bash Ms. Numauchi for speaking out. They say she is a disgrace to Minami Soma City, that she only thinks of herself (huh?), that she's a liar.
The second event that I think people in Japan may be resigning to whatever fate they think they will get is the efforts to hold anti-nuke plant referendums in Osaka and Tokyo. Citizens' groups in Osaka collected 50,000 signatures in no time, exceeding the required number of signatures to hold a referendum in Osaka Prefecture. In contrast, only one-third of the required number of signatures have been collected so far in Tokyo.
The latest meme from some of the anti-nuke plant people on the Twitter is this: "If we do hold a referendum on whether to stop all nuke plants and we lose, then the pro-nuke people will be all the more powerful and we won't be able to do anything to stop them. So, let's not do the referendum."
So it is all or nothing. If the anti-nuke plant referendum is defeated, that will be the end of their movement. That's just so Japanese. I personally think there are more pressing issues like radiation contamination being spread by the government, but why not scare the political class and show them that the citizens are not there just to collect taxes from? And if you lose once, so what? Why should it be the end of everything?
But surveying the tweets, message boards, blogs, and comments on the blogs, it does look like it's back in March/April 2011 again. The memes are "It's all due to stress, isn't it?", "We need nuclear power plants after all", and "If we lose the anti-nuke plant referendum, that's worse than doing nothing, so let's do nothing". "Nothing we can do now, the accident happened already." Ah the Noda administration has nothing to fear.
One of my teachers at my college was a French professor specializing in linguistics and in teaching Japanese to foreigners. He said the Japanese language pronunciation is one of the least "viscous" of all languages; as soon as the sound leaves one's lips, it falls off to the ground. It does not have a staying power. In contrast, the French language is very "viscous". The sound projects further forward. He was talking in terms of how to identify and learn the characteristics of a language so that one could learn faster.
But I think this nature of the Japanese language does shape how the Japanese people respond to events like a nuclear accident. No staying power. It is rather amazing that it lasted 10 months.