Poor Japan! Another earthquake and tsunami to deal with and we hear that power has been ‘knocked out’ from several nuclear plants. I vaguely recall that in the event of a significant earthquake, the reactors automatically shut down: I may be wrong – there again, we may be witnessing a resurgence in our media whipping up its usual China Syndrome lust and anti-nuclear hysteria. Time will tell but already, the earthquake has been downgraded from 7.4 to 7.1 and now the tsunami warning has been withdrawn. The newspapers will have to find a new story.. and some madman in Rio has obliged.
Japan’s response to last month’s disaster has been impressive. In the largely hostile glare of the world’s media, it has been rebuilding infrastructure, containing a nuclear emergency and searching for victims: today, we learn, they had begun the search for bodies within the exclusion zone surrounding Fukushima.
This ability to get on with life and overcome adversity is not new to the Japanese and it reminded me of a little spat that arose a few months ago when Japan’s London Embassy allegedly complained that a BBC programme had joked about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
I saw the programme – QI, as you’ve asked, featuring the lovely Stephen Fry (who doesn’t follow me on Twitter for some reason). Fry asked a question about Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a man who had recently died at the age of 93. After surviving the Hiroshima bomb, Tsutomu Yamaguchi decided to catch a train out of the wrecked city – and made the journey to Nagasaki just in time to become a victim of the second bomb.
Stephen Fry commented on the remarkable nature of this story: that after the world’s first shattering atomic attack, the Japanese still had trains running out of Hiroshima.
The Japanese Embassy considered the programme’s remarks to be disrespectful and the BBC duly apologised. But I have little doubt that Fry meant no disrespect: indeed, I think he was genuinely awed by this example of Japanese fortitude and efficiency.
PS: For those of you interested in the ongoing saga of Time Traveller Girl II’s man’s travails in Tokyo, I’m pleased to report that TTGII has been on the phone and he’s fine, although his surroundings are a bit wobbly. And his bout of radiation sickness proved to be shingles. That’s put paid to the compo then…