Sleeping Mountains

Reflections on life, literature, and culture.

Category: News Clippings

Survivors

(The Guardian just published an inspiring article, the first in a series that will follow seven survivors of the Tohoku disasters.)

Solidarity

Update (4/22): NHK seems to have removed this report, including the image, from its online archive. The Asahi article is still there.

According to this NHK interview with Donald Keene, in a time when over half of foreign residents have fled the country, he will take Japanese citizenship and will move to Japan to show his solidarity with the country.

That’s exactly why I didn’t want to leave right after the disaster and why I still don’t want to leave until I have finished my degree, to be a member of this society and to lend whatever support I can while it gets back on its feet.

Update (4/19): Here an article about Keene in English on asahi.com.

Searching for Memories

Update: Looking at these photos again now, it looks like a beautiful, but sad museum installation, but it’s not a museum.

Update 2: The Japan Times just published an article about these pictures.

(Photos taken of a school gym in Natori. From Spiegel Online.)

A Sunday in April 1961 (“The Beatnik Riot”)

(Image from NPR. Click on the image to see their report on the story.)

On April 9, 1961, folk singers who had been rejected a permit to sing in Washington Park, NY, took to the park to express their position. They sang folk songs, and the police began taking them away. NPR says this protest had lasting significance as one of the first US protests of the 1960s.

A documentary entitled Sunday was filmed that day by Dan Drasin and was made into a 17 min 9 sec film that you can see on his site. I highly recommend it.

Radioactive Dead?

(From The New York Times.)

Clean-up workers have started entering the area around the Fukushima reactors to look for the dead. However, on March 31st, Spiegel Online reported a horrific situation.

Im Gebiet um das havarierte Katastrophenkraftwerk liegen noch immer bis zu tausend Leichen. Eine Bergung ist aber bisher nicht möglich – Rettungsteams, Ärzte oder aber auch die Angehörigen selbst könnten bei der Bergung einer zu hohen radioaktiven Strahlung ausgesetzt sein. Würden die Toten eingeäschert, könnten die radioaktiven Partikel in die Lugt gelangen; bei einer Erdbestattung könnte der Boden kontaminiert werden, schrieb Kyodo. Pläne, die Strahlenbelastung der Toten in der Sperrzone zu testen, wurden laut Nachrichtenagentur Kyodo jedoch am Donnerstag wieder aufgegeben.

Und so können Überlebende, die Angehörige bei der Katastrophe verloren haben, ihre Toten nicht bestatten. Die einzige Möglichkeit, die bleibt: die Leichen vor Ort in Spezialfahrzeugen zu dekontaminieren. Das wird derzeit überlegt.

(In the area around the reactors up to thousands of bodies still lay. Recovery is still impossible – rescue teams, doctors, and family members might be exposed to too high radiation. If the bodies are cremated, the radioactive particles could get in the air; in the case of burial, the ground might be contaminated, writes Kyodo. Plans to test levels of radioactivity on the dead were given up again on Thursday according to the news agency Kyodo.

And therefore, survivors of the catastrophe who have lost family cannot bury their dead. The only remaining possibility: to decontaminate them on site in special vehicles. This is now being considered.)

This makes me wonder if any rescue teams entered the area right after the quake, or were trapped people left to die because of other peoples’ fears?! If anyone has information on this, please share it.

As I mentioned yesterday, thousands of times more people have died from the natural disasters of earthquake and tsunami along the whole eastern coast of Japan than from the radioactivity around the Fukushima reactor. Since more people die of natural causes than of radioactivity, fear of the invisible is what is driving people’s actions.

However, the survivors in Fukushima need to also be reassured and comforted as they grieve. Helping them recover the dead and giving them a decent burial is vital in that process.

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