Monday, October 8, 2012

Japanese Net Citizens' (Anecdotal) Response to TEPCO with No Money to Buy Batteries and No Permit to Transport Batteries: "TEPCO Should Have Used Credit, and We Need New Emergency Laws and Regulations"

One month after it was first reported by Asahi Shinbun, some Japanese net citizens on Twitter seem to be slowly realizing what happened on March 13, 2011 when Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant workers didn't have enough money to buy car batteries which would have given them a good fighting chance.

Sadly, their response to this revelation indicates to me the same thing would happen again and again.

The tweets that I've seen on the subject are limited in numbers, I don't have that many followers (4,700, give or take) and I don't follow that many. So the following is nothing but anecdotal.

About TEPCO workers collecting money to go to Iwaki City and buy car batteries at large auto parts stores, managing to buy only 8:

  • They should have asked nicely.

  • They should have bought on credit.

  • Maybe the stores didn't trust TEPCO to sell on credit.

  • I'm embarrassed for Japan, what would the world think of us Japanese?

There is no indication that any of them even thought about "other" solutions (see my previous post for some).

About 1,000 batteries from Toshiba stuck in Tokyo because there was no permit to transport them on the highway, I tweeted in Japanese. Not many have read Asahi Shinbun's article (partly because it appeared in the subscribers' only section of the online paper), and they simply do not know about the episode. But I got this response from an independent journalist:

That's understandable, because we don't have laws and regulations for emergency situations like that. I think there are some who predicted it [that Toshiba or TEPCO waited for the permit while core melt was occurring]. But it is us [the citizens of Japan] who have allowed it [the lack of emergency laws and regulations] to continue. So we have to change many things, but that's hard to do. If an earthquake and tsunami of the same magnitude happened right now, it is likely that we would repeat the same [mistakes].

To him, and to many others in Japan, it is a matter of creating new laws and regulations so that people can follow follow, and NOT of individual initiative and how to start thinking independently. And thinking fast.

I wrote back to him,

It's not the matter of whether you have the laws and regulations in place. If a government bureaucrat told Toshiba or TEPCO they couldn't transport the batteries on the highway without the permit, even as they knew (though they dared not tell the public) the reactor core was melting, Toshiba or TEPCO could simply say, "Oh OK, yes we understand, sir", and start driving to Fuku-I anyway. People are not trained to be bold and cunning, able to make judgment on their own on the fly in a situation like that. So what they might be fined or even arrested afterwards for transporting dangerous stuff on the highway? That would have been much better than having nuclear reactors blowing up one after another.

I'm afraid he doesn't know what I'm talking about. But we're in agreement as to repeating the same mistake in the future.


Anonymous said...

They should have emergency laws and still be ready to break them if the situation calls for it.

People need only understand and accept that the world is filled with factors that do not follow laws, rules nor regulations. Preventing ourselves from reacting to those factors on an equal level is a perfect recipe for failure.

Anonymous said...

Premature publish.

I'd like to add that it's probably a good idea to have emergency laws or procedures in place PURELY AS GUIDELINES. Who to notify, stuff like that.

The pitfall is when people follow them to the letter. Analysis, adaptation and improvisation are keys to survival.

Modern people severely lack these. They're served everything on a silver platter and follow exactly as they're told, without ever thinking outside their bubble. In the face of disaster, they would promptly curl up and die.

Anonymous said...

Yes "This is Japan" turns up sour quite often.
Anyway, the Fuku Veterans seem to say the plant was wrecked beyond maintenance by the quake itself.
It's like Sheherazade'tales : every day (or night) a new suspense, a new question. And we're only halfway to One Thousand Nights and One Night (or days, or nightmares) since March 2011.
OT : the french CGT Confédération Générale du Travail, a Workers Union close to what was the Communist Party is going on a demo against the shutdown of Fessenheim NPP, admittedly the most dangerous, the first one to stop...
Wunderbar !

Anonymous said...

Just look at the education system in Japan and you will see that all initiative , critical thinking skills and individuality are remorselessly removed from eager minds, by the time most kids graduate from high school they have had a lobotomy.... it will take generations to undo this bullshit..

Anonymous said...

Like I've said, I get the same feeling from education systems in general. It's not just Japan. Modern society breeds consumer zombies and little else. Anyone who stands out gets pressed down and flattened.

Does everyone who specifically names Japan seriously believe that their own countries don't suffer from the same problems?

Nancy said...

The "logical" solution to me would be to find the hardware store, break a door, take the batteries, leave a note of apology, what was taken and who to contact to be paid back for the damage and products and leave.

Maybe because I'm American or because I had a not typical education that stressed things like critical thinking an initiative? This just seems like the logical thing to do if TEPCO wasn't sending batteries.
The workers at the plant were already salvaging batteries out of cars at the plant. That took initiative by someone.
BTW, the US education system has become pretty sad. They don't teach much besides how to take a test on basic subjects. I don't blame the teachers here, their hands are pretty tied.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, teaching is an often underestimated job, and teachers are often underpaid. Passing down knowledge and memories to the next generation should be of utmost priority. But it's not. Less now than ever before.

I've often read articles stating and also heard from friends in the U.S. (two who've had experience studying and teaching) that the education system there sucks, doesn't encourage critical thinking, etcetra.

I feel the same way about the country I live in. People here seem content to stay ignorant, throwing all their hard-earned cash at the latest, most expensive consumer goods and drowning their sorrows in drugs and alcohol.

That's already two examples of countries that ARE NOT Japan, but still breed useless morons. That's why I think it's ridiculously ignorant to focus ONLY on Japan. Other than boosting personal ego, what good does it do to point the finger at specific countries? It's nothing but a distraction from the real issues.

When it comes to blame, people should always try to see past the surface, and consider as many contributing factors that they can. It's very important to identify the root problems.

Anything less than addressing the core problems is a complete waste of time. It's akin to "digging around the bush". You could prune the surface forever, but if you don't get to the root, the problem will keep growing.

Anonymous said...

On this subject of critical thinking and where society is heading , especially the USA then have a look at this long but brilliant article, not for the feint hearted.

it is a long read and covers a lot of ground.

Anonymous said...

“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”

– Aldous Huxley

Hélios said...

OT :

My blogfriend, Kna60 has released two videos about current measures in numerous places around Fukushima plant :

Anonymous said...

Maybe they needed an emergency backup reactor powered by bananas.

If one makes a qualitative analysis of Curies released and converted it to banana i wonder how many millions of banana tonnes these reactors belch out.

I figure the weight would be about the same as the combined weight of the Japanese.

Anonymous said...

I keep seeing the image of a big "Break Glass In Case Of Emergency" sign with a large group of people sheepishly milling around looking at it but too timid and embarrassed to take the initiative because breaking the glass would make a big unsightly mess.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

I can't help recalling the Kobe earthquake. They did not want to pump sea water to extinguish fire in a district because they didn't want to ruin their fire engine.

Anonymous said...

Well, majority of US citizens think it's just fine and dandy if 30,000 government drones fly over them for "safety". Just as sheepish as the Japanese.

Anonymous said...

yep news just in via Zero Hedge, drones to fly over American skies soon... fascism arrives.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:48

You know you're right US citizens are sheep now that I think about it the guys handling Fukushima are more like those myotonic goats that collapse when they are startled.

Anonymous said...

They didn't want to ruin their fire engine? What the hell. What's the point of having a fire engine if they're not going to use it? It's not a luxury sports car. People nowadays are so damn stupid, their priorities are all messed up.

Anonymous said...

@ arevamirpal::laprimavera

IIRC they didn't want to pump seawater into the reactors either because it would ruin them. too bad the decision makers weren't on fire in Kobe I'm sure saltwater would have been fine if that were the case.

I'm not sure how it works in Japan but I'd hope the taxpayers don't force the firemen to pay for their "own" trucks or the damage they incur to "their" equipment in the performance of their duties.

"Sorry folks, we'd love to put out the fires but we might get our uniforms dirty, many millions of dollars in property might be lost but we saved a million dollar firetruck".

Anonymous said...

I guess you can't really equate bananas to a nuclear industry legacy,it wasn't bananas exploding out of the derelicts.

Anonymous said...

That's the problem. Everyone's so worried about having to pay for shit, that they won't do anything, even when it matters. Greed and money will clearly be a significant influence in the death of our species.

You can equate bananas if you're that nutcase hag who goes around commenting on articles that radioactive waste and nuclear meltdowns are equivalent to eating a banana.

Anonymous said...

I think you forgot that all of Japanese culture is built on making rules first and then follow them without questioning. Surprised you even find it a realistic proposition to expect otherwise.

In fact, once the rules are made, things will work smoothly like nowhere else. Every non-JP manager knows that and they also know that "beware of the day when a situation occurs that is not described in the rule book", as nobody will know what to do or take the lead in managing an exceptional event. The culture simply is not very flexible to adapt to new situation. You have to accept that.

So all in all, it would be better to have new rules and regulations than hoping or demanding that the Japanese mindset will change.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Anon above, the next big bad event probably will not be covered by laws and regulations that are to be put into place this time.

Vyse Legendaire said...

The rules are regulations do not pertain to the groundwork for a working system...rather they are tollbooths and roadblocks preventing the smooth operation of systems. DO not confuse the two issues – the reality is that subservience and acquiescence are at the core of the Japanese psyche...

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Anonymous said...

Same thing occurs outside of Japan though. "Follow the rules by the book", and all that. I've met many people like that, and none of them were Japanese. The people where I live also have trouble adapting to new situations and seem to enjoy being subservient.

I still don't understand why everyone constantly emphasises these problems as Japan-only. Is it because this blog mainly focuses on Japan? Or is it because nobody wants to pay attention to their own problems?

Anonymous said...

In the interest of laying the banana hypothesis to rest i mention the old alchemists dream of transmuting lead into gold.

No one these days is stockpiling lead just in case of a scientific breakthru and indeed there are no banana conglamerates investing in nuclear waste with the expectation it will magically become millions of tonnes of saleable bananas.

Anonymous said...

Today Shizuoka prefecture assembly denied its citizens a referendum on the restart of the Hamaoka npp. They are not alone as Osaka and Tokyo have done the same.

The new-old leader of the LDP, Shinzo Abe, declared that a policy of aiming for zero reliance on npps by 2040 is irresponsible. The LDP is supported by 26% of the voters, according to recent polls.

Neither of these facts has anything to do with thinking out of the box but they are both likely to lead to another nuclear disaster next time a large earthquake strikes.


Anonymous said...

Thinking out of the box.... it's more like "thinking out of their wallets".

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