Sunday, July 28, 2013

Weekend Theme of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant on Japanese Twitter: "Only Foreign Media Tells Us the TRUTH!", Citing (sic) Al Jazeera and BBC

I have no idea who this person is, but his tweet on Friday set up a weekend of praising and adoring foreign media (again) among many Twitter users when it comes to reporting on the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

His tweet says the most (literally) incredible thing:


"It is reported all over the world that the top of Reactor 3 Containment Vessel has broken off. Only Japan hides it"

And he links Al-Jazeera's article on July 24, 2013 about steam rising from the top floor of Reactor 3.

I looked and looked, but I couldn't find anything remotely referring to what he says. The word "containment vessel" is not even mentioned in the article.

But I think I've finally figure it out. It's the third sentence in the article which is nothing but the short summary of what TEPCO announced in the recent press conferences and what was being reported in Japan (emphasis is mine):

"The steam has raised concerns about the damaged reactor, but TEPCO said no significant changes occurred, including in the levels of potentially cancer-causing radioactivity the broken reactor is releasing."

This person who tweeted decided to translate the word "broken" from the original verb "break": "Separate or cause to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain". In his mind, it must mean something has been broken off (like a tree branch, or a bone). Further, he decided what has been broken off must be the Containment Vessel top (whatever that means).

And people are retweeting this tweet, clearly without bothering to read (or unable to read) the original English article, and exclaiming "How the Japanese media lies!" "We can rely on only foreign media to tell us the truth!"

All I can say is that it may be actually a good idea to make TOEFL English proficiency test as a requirement not just for career bureaucrat candidates but for graduation from colleges, or better yet, from high schools.

"Broken" reactors are the ones at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant (Reactors 1-4), damaged by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, suffered core melt with part of the corium dropped down to the floor of the Containment Vessels, reactor buildings half-wrecked, water injected into the reactors leaking to the building basements.

So far, the original tweet has 929 retweets and 276 favorites. Not too bad, but enough to make me despair. I had to write a tweet to tell people they are lied to, but it only has 113 retweets.

Then, along came the July 23 BBC News video, which is being tweeted furiously as well. After TEPCO finally acknowledged on July 22, 2013 that the contaminated groundwater may have been leaking into the open culvert inside the silt fence in the plant harbor, foreign media, including BBC, started to report on this leak.

However, to many, many Japanese, BBC was the first one to break the news (not true), and if only Japanese media reported it before the July 21 election (they did) things might have been different!

What's more, they look at the BBC News clip that someone put the Japanese caption on, and are horrified. "Look! The steam rising from the reactors is so vigorous! I didn't know things are this bad!"

Uh...this is vigorous? So I looked at the video.

Vigorous steam or smoke rising, yes, from Reactors 1, 2, 3, 4 right after the explosion on March 14, 2011. BBC uses the old footage of the accident extensively as it narrates the news about the most recent steam rising from Reactor 3, without telling the viewers that these images are from 2011.

BBC may have thought that by now everyone knows these images of reactors are from 2011, right after the accident. Well clearly not so in Japan. They think that's how it is right now at the plant because that's how BBC reports it, and accuse Japanese media for not telling them the truth.

However, in the video, when the announcer says (14 seconds into the video),

"And yet today, for the second time in a week, steam is seen rising from the Reactor No.3..."

what do they show? The video of vigorous steam escaping from the blowout panel hole of Reactor 2, in March 2011.

For the narration

"and TEPCO can only guess where the steam is coming from"

they show huge steam coming out of half-wrecked Reactor 4 while water is being injected from the boom of a Putzmeister crane. That's also March 2011.

Does BBC ever show the steam rising NOW, in July 2013, from the top floor of Reactor 3? Yes, for two seconds, from 1:11 to 1:13, but the BBC announcer says:

"And at the same time that it finally acknowledged the water leaking problem..."

Water leaking problem? Over the 2-second video clip of Reactor 3 steam?

The news ends with reference to the workers at Fukushima I Nuke Plant:

"The numbers of the workers at the plant exposed to levels of radiation that could cause cancer was not 175 as previously reported but more than one thousand nine hundred, or 10% of total work force"

It not only parrots erroneous Asahi Shinbun's article that doesn't bother to say it is about "equivalent dose" on thyroid, but goes further by eliminating the reference to the thyroid altogether, making it sound like it is about effective dose for the overall body. The equivalent dose of 100 millisieverts on thyroid would be 4 to 5 millisieverts in overall effective dose.

This BBC reporting is being praised as "truth telling" by the Japanese. Go figure.

Whenever I can, I still watch the live press conference given by TEPCO. Journalists who attend the press conference, whether they are independent journalists like Ryuichi Kino or mainstream-media journalists from Asahi, Yomiuri, or even NHK, ask tough questions these days, as they are much more knowledgeable than they were in the beginning of the nuclear accident two years ago. Many of their tough questions have led TEPCO to finally acknowledge the dire situations at the plant, and this groundwater leak is one of them. As to the foreign media, I've seen Japanese reporters from AP, Reuters asking uncomfortable questions to TEPCO.

But many Japanese firmly believe only foreign media like BBC will tell them the truth about radiation and about the nuclear accident. Some of these people worship foreign "experts" who visit Japan from time to time to warn them with their dire warnings on nuclear contamination, simply because their warnings are very dire.


Anonymous said...

If you ever tried to follow the Fukushima news from the point of view of an average japanese ,then everything would make sense I think..

They dont trust their media because they are unable to articulate a clear message about the dissaster. They say water is leaking and the next news are kids swimming in Fuku sea and CM promoting food from there.
They say it is not broken to say it was broken, to say there is no inminent danger..
The news are scarce, almost always brief and often buried between some irrelevant ones..
Also tend to be either too technical or irrelevant for the average person (if reactor 3 shows a crack in the 2nd floor or whatever, the average Joe could not care less , when there is not even after 2 years a normative that labels from example if food has been tested and is safe in the supermarkets).
They want to hear how this affect to their daily lives, like if there is leaking to the ocean fisherman will stop or not fishing..)

Let aside news from refugees from Fukushima, their problems etc again rare...and many more examples..
And I say this from someone who arrives home after work and watches tv randomly, which is how many people follow the world after 10 hours of work in the office ...
long post, leave it here for the moment..(a bit of anger went through..sorry)

Anonymous said...

I dont think the japanese trust foreing media perse, it is just that they want to hear something relevant.

When there is an accident in a road they not only say where , but also if there is or not casualties, if the road is closed and if so alternative routes.. With fukushima the equivalent would be to say that there has been an accident and the road is being repaired with asphalt from nagoya with high content in sulphur and nickel, but the truck is late because the driver felt aesleep and the grass is greens.. no news about possible traffic delays or anything.. and japanese people feel this.

JAnonymous said...

Good luck with the media. Remember MSM stands for Massive Submission of the Minds, right ?

There was the same BBC-like problem on the french TV. In April 2011 they were talking about some random problem of that time, and describing the timeline of events. While the guy spoke of how the Tsunami swamped the backup generators at F-1, they were showing the movie of the tsunami arriving at F-2 (because nobody had any video of the F1 arrival at that time), but it was never explicitely said what the pictures were. So people just mislead themselves. It is up to the viewer to question everything that is shown to him. I agree that this should not happen : there should be a big banner citing sources for each piece of footage they show.

As a training experiment, you can listen to the TV news while looking at cats videos.

Another thing about twitter, is that it is by no means a mass media, and far from it. Look at the number of tweets/retweets, number of followers of X or Y. Then compare with yomiuri daily print figures, or NHK news audience. So while I agree that seeing those things on twitter can be frustrating, I'm tempted to say: who cares. Hell, if you look hard enough, you could find our coffee machine on twitter, it even had 30+ followers...

Anonymous said...

They want to hear something "relevant"? No kidding.

They want to hear whatever justifies whatever they've been doing. For those who fled or relocated from "heavily contaminated" Kanto, they want to hear the bad news after another. Those who continue to live in Fukushima want to hear only good news and bad news as baseless rumors.

Hysterical mothers tweet and retweet radioactive iodine in peaches bought in Akita (it was mis-transcription by the prefecture official). After more than 2 years. After the official corrected the mistake, they tweet and tweet again saying "pressure from certain quarters!".

At this point, let them. Japan is a lost cause, and only Japanese do not know it.

Anonymous said...

Yep, maybe a lost cause but relevant is not neither good not bad news, it is just making the thing more open.
You can talk to fukushima workers and let them say how hard it is to build the water tanks, and then give technical details about the reason for that "hardness"and people would understand it. You could talk about the facilities where food is being test, the problematic of testing such massive amounts of food and the improvement in technologies to achieve it...
dont know, make the problem open since we cannot go back in time anyway...but not just bury the topic in dark numbers, baseless rumors and empty apologizes which is where Tepco feels more at home and where the media seems to be helplessly falling...

Anonymous said...

I say it again. They don't want relevant information. They bend over backwards to just immerse themselves with "information" that they want to have.

Anonymous said...

Very sloppy reporting BBC! One should take into consideration this news clip is intended for a British audience. Most would not have a clue where Fukushima is let alone distinguish between reactor 2 & 3. Isn't that in China? Sad but true. It's old news. Long forgotten.

Anonymous said...

I get the impression that the people retweeting BBC's video aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer? Cause it's not exactly difficult to recognize those images from the early days of the accident.

Another story that has been making the rounds is one about a former Fukushima worker who died of Leukemia. It started as a Facebook post ("a friend of an acquaintance"), later on it became a blog post ("a friend of an acquaintance of a facebook friend"), then it started being retweeted ("a friend of an acquaintance of a facebook friend of a blogger"), and nobody has even tried to confirm the story. Even Iwakami Yasumi retweeted it without asking any questions, and he's supposed to be a journalist:

I think people just like to hear horror stories cause it's entertaining.

Vyse Legendaire said...

I think it makes sense that some Japanese people would be glad to see a dire news report from ANYWHERE, because Japan seems to be the one place where 'dire' is not an encouraged stance to have in regards to Fukushima, and this is reflected in the edutainment and propaganda that the situation is awash in.

Anonymous said...

If Japanese media is garbage, if foreign media is garbage, if Tweeter is garbage, if blogs are garbage, if Facebook is garbage ... errrr ... where are we supposed to get info ? Ex SKF ?
A little less patronizing would be nice. People are trying to get informed ... and that is already a positive. Yet, news outlets must provide accurate info, I agree. People tend to search for bad news rather than the other way around ... but perhaps people are sick of being misled ? Isn't it the Japanese media reporting that the reactors did not suffer meltdown, then cold shutdown a few months after? Radioactive water never leaked to the sea ? Isn't it the responsibility of journalist to filter government and TEPCO's BS ?

Bottom line, I totally understand that Japanese people are seeking outside information. May be they are tired of hearing "poses no immediate health risks" ! .... How vague is that ????

As for one of the comment about Hysterical mothers, i find it offensive. I know personally parents (NOT friends of a friend of a friend) who have their children still peeing Cesium 137, even in Tokyo. These parents are very worried ... and they have the right to be. If they don't always share accurate info via social networks, it is because they are trying to find real answers ... and they are very happy to be debunked. These people take no pleasure in spreading bad news. They are afraid for their children.

Anonymous said...

Children and pretty much everybody was already peeing Cesium-137 before the accident, since there are still leftovers from the atmospheric nuclear tests and the Chernobyl accident all over the northern hemisphere. It was close to 0.1 Bq/l or something similar.

And the Japanese media already reported on possibility of a meltdown early afternoon on March 12 2011 based on press conferences from NISA: What was said for a while is that the meltdown was partial, until early May, when Tepco admitted it was 100%.

Probably your Japanese friends just don't read newspapers, and get their news from the game of Chinese whispers that the social media has become.

Anonymous said...

The Japanese media, TEPCO and incompetent Edano were telling the world that Meltdown did and will not happened (or partially, in only a few newspapers). Every time I saw Edano telling that lie to us, I wanted to smash my TV screen.

As for children already pissing Cesium 137 prior 311, is this ok to add more fresh Cesium into their fragile bodies ???

This issue should never been downplayed. Anything related to the children in Japan and their exposure to this crap is to be taken seriously and better preventive measures must be set in motion.

Anonymous said...

OT history lesson
We can go right back to the start for a picture of transparency, liability, and radioactive contamination.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the Jspanese media did not tell the bad news (as usual for Japanese media in regards to Fukushima), so Japanese people have to read the news from other sources of news.

Anonymous said...

"former Fukushima worker who died of Leukemia"

what are you talking about?
Even TEPCO released that news.

Anonymous said...

If you actually look at what was being reported in the first few weeks of the accident, the media was reporting what was happening at the plant. There was hardly any good news.

Anon at 4:18AM, can't you read English? Or you are too PC to be able to understand? Hysterical mothers refer to those who tweeted I-131 in peaches, not your friend.

Anonymous said...

Japanese on Twitter, English readers on this blog, they all read off whatever they want, whatever fits their preconception. Sad.

Anonymous said...

>If Japanese media is garbage, if foreign media is garbage, if Tweeter is garbage, if blogs are garbage, if Facebook is garbage ... errrr ... where are we supposed to get info ? Ex SKF ?

I suggest you use your own judgment, instead of blind trust.

>A little less patronizing would be nice.

It sounds it is you who are patronizing.

Vyse Legendaire said...

I don't think it would be a mistake to assume that the primary goal of SKF's 'analysis' of the Fukushima situation is 'to downplay the situation', because it is so dire that only drastic measures can ameliorate it...none of which are being taken as we speak.

Anonymous said...

Downplay the situation? I don't think so. If you need hype and sensation, you know you can count on many other sites, Vyse, including Fukushima Diary.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Vyse, all I want is facts.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 7:48,

>The Japanese media, TEPCO and incompetent Edano were telling the world that Meltdown did and will not happened (or partially, in only a few newspapers).

If you consider that Yomiuri, Asahi and Mainichi are just "a few newspapers", well, I don't know what to say. Edano was already saying in press conferences that the fuel was melting in reactors 1 to 3 as early as March 14 2011. Just check this:



The video you posted is an example of journalists not knowing what a meltdown is. Notice how Edano does not mention the word meltdown at any moment (the guy's a lawyer.)

Anon at 9:56,

>"former Fukushima worker who died of Leukemia"

>what are you talking about?
>Even TEPCO released that news.

This is a different one, supposedly a 32 years old that died recently. According to the story posted on FB, just before he exhaled his last breath, the young man said: "I was fooled by... Tepco." (Or something equally dramatic.)

Anonymous said...

"If you need hype and sensation, you know you can count on many other sites"

just information other than a downplayed version repeating TEPCO and NHK is enough.
Fukushima Diary is giving news. We connect the dots. And his information is important because without it, there is no way I could feel there is a health risk, while the information that reveals this should be circulating, it is not.

Anonymous said...

@Anon July 29, 2013 at 1:02 AM

I still think that some effort has been done on Japanese TV to inform in a proper way.TBS Furutachi Ichiro was doing a good work at that. He reported about demostrators agains restart of power plants and brought Ryuichi Sakamoto,who was supporting them, to the tv stage.
Also showed his concerns about the differences of criteria between experts for a security reopening with charts and thoughtful explanations. Not a sigle time talked about fukushima peaches or tweets a.f.a.i.k.
Of course I am biased against nuclear power but this country needs it.

Anonymous said...

>Fukushima Diary is giving news

That's a good one. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

Fukushima Diary misleads, just like it misled Maju into thinking trillion becquerels are per liter.

Anonymous said...

EXSKF & FUKUSHIMA DIARY are both doing a great job. I hope both blogs keep at it and inform well into the future. One ting is for SURE, the situation is far from stable in Japan and it's thanks to these 2 blogs that many of us can remain informed.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:55PM, I have a feeling that the site admin here don't want to be associated with sites like FD.

Anonymous said...

>Fukushima Diary is giving news. We connect the dots.

"Connecting the dots": Crazy talk for, "I cherry pick pieces of information out of context and ignore everything that does not fit my narrative."

Anonymous said...

"Fukushima Diary is giving news. We connect the dots"

It means that I am learning from that site that food is contaminated. And so I can skipped the contaminated food. This is vital.

Anonymous said...

Fukushima Diary just puts out anything that may be related, for awareness of possibilities. EX-SKF is less relaxed on that regard.

I have heard that Japanese people who cannot read English articles will assume their content anyway. Language barriers in general are filled with stupidity. Ignorance and incoherence cannot, or rather, should not define credibility.

However, I think it is also completely reasonable for Japanese to doubt their own media. Problem is, they don't seem to realize that Western media like the BBC are also full of shit, because they are obviously lock in step with the nuclear industry. They aren't going to report bad things about a technology they are benefitting from.

If they want reliable information regarding nuclear power, they should look to information from countries that aren't using it themselves, and that aren't bending over to pressure from the US. It's basic logic.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Fukushima Diary's level is just as high, or low, as BBC anyways...

Anonymous said...

"It means that I am learning from that site that food is contaminated. And so I can skipped the contaminated food. This is vital."

Or you can just check the official reports, which is what FD is doing. Only that FD tends to emphasize one positive result over hundreds that are under detection limits, without mentioning that items that have been detected over 100 Bq/Kg are banned from distribution, here you have a list of them:

Anonymous said...

anon@9:18 Wish it was as simple as that. It's not. Nations not using nuclear power do so for a reason. They are against it. In such a case, basic logic may suggest their reporting would be bias against the technology. Back to the drawing board then......

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