Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Situation in Japan

I usually reside in Japan, in Hino, which is located in the west of Tokyo. However, given the evolution of the situation in the Fukushima nuclear Plant, My wife and I have decided to fly out of Japan yesterday, and we are now in Singapore, in my wife's family.
It seems to me that the government and TEPCO have very little control over the evolution of the situation in the reactors at Fukushima, and therefore the risk of a major radioactive leak is very real. For the last few days, the public has been given contradictory information, often after the facts, and with very few details. The reality of the risk and the seeming confusion of the authorities are what made us leaving Japan for a period we hope to be as short as possible. The pressure from our overseas family and friends also became very strong with every new problem at the nuclear plants.

Anyway, I advise all the people who currently reside in Tokyo area to consider leaving it for a while, there are several options: Living the country for those who have places to stay outside of Japan, move towards the south, the Kansai region or even Hiroshima area, or simply move towards the mountains, in the narrowest possible valleys where a radioactivity cloud is the less likely to find its way through. For the coming two days, Tokyo seems safe from contamination because of the wind direction, it may be the best time to move out. Once the cloud will be there, the only option will be to stay at home as hermetically closed as possible.

All our thoughts are with the Japanese people, and we do hope we will be back in Japan in a few days when the situation in the nuclear plants will be under control.


numbersix said...

Dear Jean-Philippe,

I am glad you're safe with your family in Singapore. It must have been a shattering experience. I now realize my last comment was written neither before nor after the event, but right in the middle of it; so I apologize for the 'lightness' of my metaphysics compared with the gravity of the situation.

I also hope the situation will return to normal soon, for your sake of course, and for our sake, us all. You seem to love Japan, its culture and its thought. I do hope we meet soon in Tokyo.

All the best,

Jean-Philippe said...

Hi Elie,

Thanks for your concern.

When I felt the earthquake, I was actually reading your blog, we felt it as a 5+ tremor, though it was unusually long (more than 2 minutes), there was however no damage at our place or in the surroundings.
Far from being light however, I believe the metaphysics you exposed in your book has helped to think through this event, freed from unwarranted expectations.

I do hope, as well, that things will eventually turn out for the best, and that we'll have the opportunity to meet soon in Tokyo.



Anonymous said...


I am happy you are safe you and your family. The night before the earthquake a friend, fellow trader, called me in the night. He told me that an earthquake was imminent in USA and was predicted by a Russian scientist, and he had a call from Moscow.

It happened in Japan the next day, but still there is a risk in the USA too.

When traders are able to have such an information, to protect their assets against market unpredictability, why the Nuclear plants responsible stuff did not take preventive actions before the fact? Human lives are more important than assets. Are traders sometimes more informed?

John Last

Jean-Philippe said...

Hi John,

Thanks for your concern.

As for predicting the quake, it is always difficult to react to such predictions. Scientific consensus is that such prediction cannot be done with sufficient accuracy as of now.

Now, a lot of earthquakes are predicted and most of them never happen (a few years ago, a russian scientist forecasted the big one in California), but when one happens, then people ask why nothing was done about it.

Earthquakes in Japan are not rare by any means, we feel one every three weeks on average, most don't exceed a force 3, and don't last more than 10 seconds. But buildings are built for it, including the nuclear plants, and they actually resist well. I never been much worried about the earthquakes, and living on higher ground, there is no risk of tsunami.

I believe however that the plant design in Fukushima was defective, things start coming to the fore, wikileaks does mention a serious concern from the US and the IAEA concerning this plant. The reactors were old, and hopefully, after the crisis is solved for the best, Japan government and private companies in charge of the nuclear power will have to face their responsibilities and transparency will be imposed on their activities. This transparency is very far to be the case as of now, and the confusion of public and private interests in this matter is a well-known thing.