Saturday, March 19, 2011

good on you, Richard

The British tabloid The Sun ran an outrageous story the other day, which I won't post here (though I will link to it below), and that you shouldn't read, because it's completely ridiculous, but a friend of a friend of a friend of mine, an expat still in Tokyo, wrote this brilliant response:

Dear The Sun,

I have just read with some concern your article 'Starving Brit Keely: My nightmare trapped in City of Ghosts – Tokyo'. First I wish to respond to your thoughtful question 'Do you know anyone stuck in Japan?'with the simple answer- No, because nobody is stuck in Japan. There are available flights both in and out of the country. Hope that helps.

I can assure you and any of your worried readers that the Tokyo described in the article is not very similar to the Tokyo outside my window. Perhaps Nerima-Ku suffered it's own unique nuclear catastrophe that somehow we have failed to hear about, but I think it's unlikely as it is just a five minute bicycle ride from here, and in the information age news travels fast.

For the most part life in Tokyo is continuing as normal, with minor concessions to the possible electricity shortage such as shops & restaurants not using all of their lights and not using exterior neon signs etc. Trains are running more or less normally, shops & businesses continue to operate, and there are lots of cars, buses, bicycles & people in the street.

Nobody is starving in Tokyo. For the last few days there have been shortages of bread & rice in the shops, but in my local supermarket there are lots of fresh fruit & vegetables, pasta, soup, cheese etc etc. Nobody even needs to be hungry, let alone starve. Having said that, I haven't been able to find any Twixes, my personal favourite chocolate bar, although sadly that situation has remained the same for much of the last decade.

The British Embassy, no doubt, has had its hands full dealing with concerned British citizens, but has regularly updated it's website with advice information & the television news coverage on Japanese television has been constant & is also available in English (online as well). There are also at least two radio stations that broadcast news and information in English.

If Mrs Fujiyama's water supply is a funny colour and smells of bleach I suggest it may be a plumbing problem particular to the building that she lives in. The water supply to my home and the homes of my friends and family in Tokyo, although someway short of what you would find in a Cotswold spring, is as clear and drinkable as ever. If the Fujiyama family are concerned, I suggest that they could drink bottled water (or any number of other bottled beverages) available from supermarkets, convenience stores & the vending machines that are on almost every street, even in 'Post-Tsunami Tokyo'.

As clearly explained by Sir John Beddington the UK's chief scientific advisor, even in a worst case scenario there is unequivocally no threat from radiation to people living in Tokyo. I believe that The Sun and other newspaper's use of photographs showing Japanese people wearing masks, could be misleading to people living in Britain who may not realise that Japanese people very often wear masks both as a measure against hay fever & as a (perhaps misguided) precaution against colds and influenza as well as a courtesy to others when they are suffering from a cold. It would be rare to not see lots of Japanese people wearing masks on any given day. However, people in Tokyo have not been advised to wear masks and I hope Mrs Fujiyama, will be relieved to hear that she has made a mistake in believing that this was the case. She may also be relieved to hear that radiation levels recorded in Tokyo on wednesday were three times lower than those typically recorded in Rome where again things seems to be running pretty much as normal, although I understand that dodging Vespa scooters can be traumatic.

On a sadder note, many people in more genuinely 'Post-Tsunami' Japan have lost everything including their family, friends, and houses. They are putting up with real cold & real food shortages, and they desperately need help.

I hope that The Sun can spend some column inches on encouraging their famously big hearted readers to send whatever they can to the relevant charities such as Oxfam Or Save The Children. Perhaps the Fujiyama family who seem to have funds enough to panic buy a 4X4 vehicle, could also manage to send a little something for people who are in even greater need. I hope this clears up a few things about the current situation in Tokyo, and that reassured a little, you won't need to print any more stories that may inadvertently cause unnecessary worry to your Readers.

Yours sincerely,

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