Friday, April 1, 2011

#Japan #Earthquake: Japanese Police to Crack Down on Internet "Rumors"

While there is no news in the Japanese media about the world's largest concrete pumps going to Fukushima I Nuke Plant to water AND pump concrete to entomb the reactors ("Chernobyl" solution), the Japanese government is keen on prosecuting those who spread "rumors" about the quake/tsunami/nuke plant disasters on the Internet and by word of mouth that are "harmful".

(Sound familiar, Americans?)

So far, the "rumors" that have been criticized by the National Police Agency seem to be indeed "harmful rumors" with no solid basis, as Yomiuri Shinbun reports (in Japanese; 10:58PM JST 4/1/2011):

The National Police Agency disclosed on April 1 some of the rumors that have been circulating on the Internet and by word of mouth which the Agency deems false and without a solid basis.

For 28 such cases on the Internet message boards, the Agency had requested the entities that manage the sites to take them down.

The rumors such as "looting of goods in outskirts of Sendai", which spread in the shelters in Miyagi Prefecture [Sendai is the capital of Miyagi Prefecture] and subsequently reported on the Internet message boards, but there was no looting or theft at the particular shopping mall that was named in the rumor. These false rumors spread through word of mouth, chain mail, and Internet postings using ficticious newspaper names. Since they cite specific locations and business names, people tend to believe them, and there are inquiries to the police and the prefectural governments.

The prefectural police in the quake/tsunami affected areas are patrolling the locations specified by such "rumors" to dispel the fears of the residents. The police will consider prosecution of entities or individuals behind the false rumors for libel and interference of business operation.



 「仙台市郊外で商品の略奪が横行」。宮城県内の避難所などで同様の風評が広がりネット掲示板でも書き込みが相次いだが、実際には名指しされた ショッピングモールに窃盗などの被害はなかった。こうしたデマは口コミやチェーンメールのほか、存在しない新聞社名でネットに書き込まれたりして広がる。 具体的な地名や店名を交えているために信用されやすく、警察や県庁に事実確認の問い合わせも複数寄せられている。


Other "false rumors" that are listed on the chart at the link include:

  1. There are many burglaries in the affected area.
  2. There is a band of foreign burglars armed with knives stealing.
  3. There are many cases of abduction of young girls.
  4. People are sold a counterfeit ticket for gasoline (a true one would entitle them to get gas).

The National Police Agency's refutation of these rumors, in corresponding numbers:

  1. There is no burglary in the affected area. [???]
  2. No such foreigners have been arrested. [So the police hasn't arrested them yet?]
  3. There is no such abduction in the affected area.
  4. Not true. [Police may be right on this one too, but it totally fits other con jobs that have happened so far since the quake.]

A funny thing, though, that major newspapers like Yomiuri have been reporting thefts, burglaries, and con jobs in Tohoku and Kanto areas immediately after the initial shock of the earthquake/tsunami wore off - i.e. one or two days later; evacuees' empty homes are broken into, heating oil and gasoline stolen. They have reported many con men and swindlers who dupe people into paying them the "earthquake/tsunami" relief money, in one case to the tune of $12,000 from a retiree.

Is the Police saying you have to be a big newspaper, magazine, TV in order to "authoritatively" write about those incidents?

Who is going to determine which "rumor" is "false"?

What about announcements made by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) ever since the earthquake/tsunami/nuke plant accident?

Reactor No.4 was supposed to have had "fires", if we are to take their words. Just look at the picture of Reactor No.4. It had explosions, not "fires".

The initial evacuation zone was only 5-kilometer radius, and people were told by Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency that even that was overcautious. (Of course then the Reactor No.1 blew up in the middle of the press conference by PM Kan.)

People were led to believe that as soon as the power was restored at Fukushima I Nuke Plant things would get moving and quickly. Then the government and TEPCO dribble out the truth - oh there's literally tons of water in the basements and trenches about to spill into the ocean, oops the hazardous waste processing facility has been flooded, oh the pumps for the condenser systems are broken.

Do these qualify as "rumors" that were actually "harmful"?

Of course not. They come from the power that be, and they were very "true", at that moment.

It is indeed like Japan before and during the World War II, as many old people in Japan privately say. They personally remember how it was back then. An increasing number of younger people seem to be catching on, who do read news and commentaries on the Internet that never make it to the mainstream media there.

Information wants to be free, and it will break free. False information notwithstanding.


Barney said...

"Sound familiar, Americans?"

Actually, no. What are you alluding to?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Cass Sunstein (Obama's Regulation czar), for one. He runs this site for the admin.

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