Earthquake, reaction and news links

By: Rora

Mar 13 2011

Category: Japan

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It’s surreal to see images of buildings that have become familiar to me split in half, trains identical to the ones I take every day caked in mud and torn to shreds, and to know that towns exactly like mine were wiped off the map by a giant wave. I need to tear myself away from twitter and news websites but it’s so hard.

My internal reaction to the earthquake, which I kind of feel weird admitting, is that I feel super tender and protective of Japan and also very proud of how well it handles disasters- and I don’t just mean in terms of disaster response units, I just mean the nation’s character as a whole. It puts things that usually frustrate me in a more positive light. I go through my normal days constantly questioning the bureaucracy and feeling disgruntled over how workaholic and OCD people are compared to me… but these are all very good characteristics to have in times of disaster (and probably developed out of an awareness that natural disaster is always imminent here). Not to mention all of the other positive ways people have coped with the quake. Everybody- media, rescuers, everybody- has handled this event so gracefully that it astounds me. Tokyo didn’t break into chaos, people just walked 20 miles home when the trains shut down. In areas where electricity is scarce, neighbors take turns with power outages to make things easier for all.

Edit: a (Japanese) friend posted a link to this CNN story on Facebook: “Orderly Disaster reaction in line with deep cultural roots”

In the end, despite how seriously gravely bad it all is, it could have been so much worse. It’s not fair that every country can’t have stellar building codes and a tsunami warning infrastructure that will send a message to your cell phone within three minutes of a high magnitude quake. Can you imagine how many many times worse this quake would be if it had hit ANY other country on earth in the same way? But, I don’t know if reminding myself of that makes any of this any better. No, it doesn’t.

Keeping up with the news

Hands down, the best way to follow news developments is via twitter and the Japanese media. Here are some useful links:

Kyodo news is the Japanese AP or Reuters.

I have also been surprised to see Al Jazeera cover the quake so well. They had a live video stream on their website when few other media outlets did, and they have broken some of the developments faster than other news organizations as well.

Another surprise was BoingBoing. Read their post about nuclear energy here.

SandraJapandra, an American journalist living and working in Tokyo. (She also wrote a very good NYT op-ed piece about the quake here)

Maikiwi, who seems to be live tweeting while watching NKH, the Japanese BBC. She has been super informative but just be aware that she tweets incredibly frequently.

Speaking of NHK, they have an English language twitter feed, and their coverage on their website has been thorough and perhaps the least sensationalist disaster coverage I’ve ever seen.

If you want to watch a real-time English audio stream of NKH, Yosoko News on Ustream.

NHK also has separate English language coverage channel on Ustream.

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