Sunday 8 May 2011

All's well in Koriyama

I got back to Koriyama Friday lunchtime. There was a tremour today but that was the first I've felt since being back. Japan is quite a nice place when you're not being terrorised by earth movements! Radiation levels are falling - currently 1.5 microsievelts/hour which is only half as much again as Cornwall. I decided I couldn't live forever in dread of radiation so I donned mask and gloves and planted up the flower bed at the company. We now have a bright display of marigolds and purple petunias.

Round town there is a lot of building work going on. Pavements and  roads are being resurfaced and buildings are shrouded in scaffolding and netting. Some buildings have been demolished. The temple next door has gone but there is a portacabin on site so it looks like we're going to get an instant replacement. I noticed piles of soil covered with blue sheeting at the schools. Having removed the top few centimetres they ran into problems as there are no rules on how to transport the stuff and people living near the tips objected. Today there was an experiment to put it back below the existing soil and if successful this will be done at the other schools. (There's no decision yet as to who is to pay for all this.)

Nothing untoward at Fukushima Daiichi. Unit 1 is most advanced: the air inside has been changed reducing radiation levels and workers are to go in tomorrow for the first time since the earthquake. The Prime Minister has 'requested' that Central Electric close the Hamaoka nuclear plant near Shizuoka as there is an 87% chance of an earthquake of magnitude 8 in the next 30 years - and it's too close to Tokyo for comfort. It provides 15% of the electricity for that region, so more power cuts: Toyota won't be pleased.

There was an interesting programme last night on television about the tsunami. Videos from peoples' phones, amazing tales of survival, it brought home the immense power of the wave. They have data from a GPS antenna that was bobbing up and down in the sea. The sea rose 2 metres at the time of the earthquake and then rose sharply another 7 metres, before dropping again.  We know the earthquake was caused by the North American plate flipping up as the Pacific plate moved under it. This is what caused the first rise in the sea of 2 metres. But what caused the second peak? An expert was saying that it must be another phenomenon, previously unknown, possibly energy escaping through cracks in the thick layer of mud/soft rock on top of the plates. This 7 metre high wave became a 20 metre wave when it reached  the shore. I know Hokusai's wave was pulled in the Western press as being distasteful but it's a good image. The sheer height made the spray at the front of the wave incredibly powerful - like a drill, able to break concrete walls four or five inches thick and of course, tragically, the breakwaters.

I'll leave you with some songs. Maybe the tide is turning. There is certainly a lot of support for Fukushima these days. Partly due to this awful song which is played incessantly on the television and as BGM in town. I do wonder if a prefecture can be 'baby' but here it is 'I love you and I need you, Fukushima' by the Inawashirokozu. (This version is a medley by people, some celebs, around the country.)

Love you,
P.S. AV was resoundingly defeated. Was it because the British are traditionally conservative and opposed to change? Fed up with Nick Clegg? David Cameron's handiwork? It's sad that this chance for reform is gone.

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