Monday, December 26, 2011


T'is the season of reviews and of looking to the future.

Sheila Smith of the Council of Foreign Relations in New York has a published her impressions of 2011 (Link). The piece is geared to an American foreign policy audience and hits most of the major points. I would have included a bit more on the virtual collapse of the chances for the construction of a Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko among the foreign policy issues of note -- but then again, Dr. Smith has been writing about the hopelessness of the move of the Futenma U.S. Marines assets to northern Okinawa for years. She may be afraid of sounding like a broken record.

(English speakers have just got to concoct a more contemporary metaphor for this condition. Then again, the Japanese equivalent is "sounding like a broken tape recorder.")

Just one question, though: what how does the Nadeshiko Japan victory in the World Cup demonstrate the effectiveness of civil society in absorbing the trauma of 3/11? Is it not the opposite, that the country needed the victory to shake itself of a post-3/11 national depression?

Television and radio journalist Lucy Craft has put together a report for NPR (Link) that is going to get her into hot water with the knee-jerk Japan defenders. While it is true that she does not give equal time to any kind of scientific assessment of the dangers of longterm exposure to low-level radiation (one should perhaps, for example, note that Europeans living in houses made of stone, particularly granite, expose themselves to significant annual doses of radiation, while radon in basements is a worldwide radiation hazard), she does expose what we all have been doing, to a greater or lesser extent: avoiding products from near the Fukushima plants and wondering when the next shoe will drop.

And there are so many shoes to drop, like where all the incinerators and water treatment plants, whose standard operating procedures transform large quantities of waste into small amounts of waste now have to deal with the reality of that they are taking massive quantities of material with low levels of radiation and transforming them into concentrated high-level radioactive muck that has to be buried somewhere.

More to come on this score, I am sure.

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