Thursday, March 29, 2012

Some good news, some not so

Time for some local news:

Good: It's fun to be a sports fan right now. Asia League Ice Hockey just ended their playoffs with this author's favored HC Nikkou IceBucks going to the finals (although losing after a brave effort) and Major League Baseball is in town to open the season... and my long-ago home team Seattle Mariners got it done in game one with Japanese expat Suzuki Ichirou (I. Suzuki; "Ichiro") leading the team to victory. MLB has been great about doing the opening here, and has been both supportive of folks up in the Touhoku (NorthEast) who were so badly hit in last year's disasters and generous in donating some of the take to continued relief efforts.

Not So Good: The wrangling over designated no-go zones in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi (Fukushima #1) nuclear disaster is proving to be difficult as towns severely effected are very *very* unhappy with the central government's designation and compensation plan. Adding this to the political panic over any nuclear power issue *and* the widespread unhappiness about the emergency response and the near-heartless policies in the aftermath of the disaster (ask any rancher in Fukushima Prefecture what happened to their livestock after the disaster, just for one thing) is going to keep attention focused on how much trouble this all is, not on how to make it better (which is where the focus should be).


Mr. Bill said...

How does one make it better? And how does one get publicity for a plan to make it better? Draw up a proposal and post to to blogs, on-line news comments, email to political entities? I understand, conceptually, the focus needs to change. But what is the solution or solutions, and how to effect those solutions? Or, at least, how would you go about getting attention to possible solutions?

Also, this is far more histrionic an idea than is practical, but may be one that gets recognized through its combined absurdity and tragedy. With regards to those who'd remain in their towns that are in or near no-go zones, it sounds as if they are taking up a "forced evolution" cause in speeding up chromosomal mutations. That might play well in monster-based or superhero-based manga, but in reality, it's suicide for the decision-makers and murder for their family members.

The in-place solutions offered to those whose homes and livelihoods were in the designated no-go areas are, I'm sure, far less than reasonable. I'm sure, too, that insurance companies are trying to find ways to keep from paying out on policies covering losses.

Effecting real, viable solutions for those affected will probably take the efforts of strong, vocal politicians who don't intend on a career in politics. Creating a united "victim's voice" to decry the current solutions and swing focus onto how to do it better requires everyone affected to abandon what they are trying to keep hold of, acknowledge their material and intangible losses, and move on to a state of "I have lost all but my life due to (place the blame here). Government, what are you going to do to help me?" All of those people in that state of mind, all asking at once, persistently, cannot fail to be noticed.

The problem is, politicians are, by definition, in it for a career; and people who are victims of a tragedy are usually focused on "the good of me" not "the good of all".

L.Douglas Garrett said...

@Mr. Bill

I can't quite do justice in response to your thoughts, above; I'm a bit obliged.

The textbook example of "how to" influence public policy in the face of bad government choices, here, is Kan Naoto (N. Kan) 's campaign as a private citizen to overturn the disasterous government actions during the HIV Blood Products ("Green Cross") scandal.

The major issues regarding the exclusion zone are polar opposites: that the panic over radiation has caused over-reaction and over-caution, excluding residents from their homes and livelihoods when little or no danger exists (in some places), and; that there is virtually no trust of what the government or TEPCO (the plant operator) have reported as to actual contamination because for much of this event they announced things like "there is no real danger" and at the same time "we can't evacuate any livestock from farms because they are too dangerously contaminated"... neither of which has proven true.

There is no private insurance role in this part of the disaster. Japanese government liability for nuclear power plant incidents is precident (same as if a Defense Force airplane fell on your house, but in this case part of a declared emergency).

Otherwise, yes on your comment about the common good... but... we're constantly faced with the problem of politicians and the bureaucracy here being more concerned with what is good for the government than any real sense of common good. Remember, the American concept of "government existing to serve the people" is a rather new idea here and government often fall back into the thinking that government exists to benefit the government (think of the classic medical story of why OBGYNs used the stirrups in childbirth... it was for the convenience of the doctor, not for any benefit to the mother or child. Same thinking).

So there's a lot to it all. We're working on it.

L.Douglas Garrett said...

clarification: N. Kan was most involved in publicizing and condemning the Green Cross Scandal after being appointed Health Minister. His earlier role was not as important as I might have made it sound. My regrets.