A lot of people on ATS seem puzzled and even visably angered that there hasn't been an evaucation of Tokyo/Japan. Even leaving aside the brute fact
that all historical, logistical, stategic, economic, and even physical/geographic evidence points relentlessly to the absolute impossibility of such a
pipe dream ("maybe if we all hold hands and love, we can materialize a fleet of winged pink ponies that will fly the people to safety in Candyland"),
there are other reasons people might have chosen to stay. I'd like to look at one possible scenario that seems to be pretty common in Tokyo these
days. This hypothetical "case study" below drawn from my interactions with Japanese businesspeople, normal people on the street, and others over the
last few weeks on ground here in Tokyo.
I will, for the sake of argument, ask you to put yourself in the place of the average middle-class Japanese, imagining a similar catestrophe had
happened close to whevever you happen to work and live. So Let's do a thought experiment:
You are a local businessperson in the area you are living (or an area you really want to live in and have aspired to live in for years and finally
made it, say. Or maybe just your beloved lifelong home-town, wherever that happens to be --the point is, a place you personally happen to know/love.
Not Tokyo per se.)
You started out poor, but with much effort and life over many years, you managed to build a pretty comfortable middle class life for yoruself, with a
home and a wife and a family. Business has its ups and downs, but its something you've put your life into and you've come to see it as your life work,
because you enjoy what you do for the most part.You have plenty of friends, community involvement, investments in the area (in both time, emotion, and
money). The people in the neighborhood know your name, you have a little cycle where the same grocery clerks and bartenders and so forth recognize
you. You like bantering with the eccentric old lady next door or the thoughtful art college student down the street. Moreover, you are building a
pretty good nest egg, better than you'd dared hoped, and if the future seems not quite as flashy and dramatic as you once might have fantisized, at
things are finally looking up after a few decades of absolute struggle.
Then, a natural catastophe occurs, and a nuclear plant about 150 miles from you goes up in smoke. You don't know much about nuclear power, but you
roll up your sleeves and try to learn. After a few days frantically pouring through old military field handbooks about nuclear fallout, dense
incomprehensible physic textbooks, your favorite doom-laden sites, and other grim tomes, you start to realize the situation may be a little different
than you immediately assumed.
For one, the radiation in the food and the air around you seems just fine. Granted, bad stuff is happening north of you, but for the time being, day
after day, for wharver reason, none of this is rearing its head in your particular city. There are no zombies shuffling through the streets. Six weeks
after the quake, we have the tragedy of the displaced persons, but the vast, vast majority of people in the major cities seem to be living their lives
pretty much normally. The immediate danger zone is still far from the city. Maybe there are more delays and snafus than usual, maybe there is this
weird shortage/hording dynamic going on and you have trouble finding the things you need, but with a little effort you can make do. Everyone around
you seems in the same boat, getting back to work, doing things. People are helping each other and new ways, and you really like the way the community
has sprung into action. You feel you are grappling with serious challenges for the first real time ever, and coming out quite well.
A client lands a big project on your desk; this is something you've been angling for for months, and the extra money will really make a difference. So
you throw yourself into the project as usual, just like old times. When you get home, your wife is waiting there with a candlelight dinner and your
favorite meal, and your daughter is full of enthusiastic tales of success at school and happiness with her friends.
You are aware of the long-term dangers: the radiation in the food chain, the possiblity of rain and what that does, the possiblity of a radioactive
monsoon season. You know that another, even worse quake could happen at any time. You know the business conditions have just gotten a whole lot
shakier for most everyone, and all this is very worrying. But these are worries that aren't going to be solved today.
And let's face it: the "ifs" are still significant enough that you are very, very leery of ditching everything on the strenght of conjecture alone.
Are you, right now, this very moment, willing to give up home, all your posessions, money, investments, neighborhood, job, etc. to go squat in a tent
for who know how long, using a bucket as a toilet and eating cup ramen 3 meals a day? Especially if it was still unclear exactly what the damage would
And from there who knows? A "new homeland" in Africa or Mexico or Russia or the somewhere else for you and your fellow refugees? That presents all
kinds problems: What kind of job will you have? Will you be contend to dig ditches for the next 40 years in some kind of glorified refgee reservation
with a cot and a steel bowl and spoon for your daily rations? Will you even be able to put a roof over the heads of your family members? Will you be
able to feed your family? How long will you be living like that? With the old career track blown to smithereens, what kind of future are you looking
at? Do you know what it really means to go from a majority in one of the world's richest, most efficient and technologically advanced nations nation
to a minority in a more rough-and-tumble land?
You realize that you could easily have left for a FEMA camp 5 weeks ago immediatley after the event, and if you had done so, you would be sitting
there staring vacantly into space, instead of home with your wife and daughter, making money and living well. Is the refuge's life be arguably any
better now? He may be depressed, shivering in a tent, short of food and medicine, only able to take a shower a week. By remaining here, you've at
least gained 5 more weeks of sane, normal living, and the Refugee's position is arguably far worse off at this point. Plus, as an ATSer, you have a
very healthy distrust of FEMA cattle-car mass evaucations of millions anyway, just on general principles.
So, you decide to keep a wary eye on the situation. Maybe if the water-table gets infected, you will re-evaluate. Maybe a radioactive plume will
change everything. Maybe a new quake, a new catastrophe...you have your eyes glued to the radiation sites, you are seratily reading up on survival,
formulating several contingency plans that include flight to another region or another country.. But you not going to jump at shadows, especially when
it would mean blythely tossing out eveything you' spent your whole life building and puitting your family into financial jeopardy.
Bottom line: You need more information of a more clear and present danger to make such an earth-shattering change, abandoing everything you have and
are to simply walk fdown the road with a single change of clothes and a backpack.. And so far, despite all the hyperbole, the fact is that the "S"
hasn't really "HTF" yet. It's always a risk waiting "too long" for more concrete evidence, of course, but again, weigh that risk against all the very
real risks and drawbacks of fleeing that I have outlined above. When you make a stone-cold-sober evaluation of the situation, you'll find the issue
seems a lot less clear-cut than it might feel at first.
Think about it.
edit on 4/21/11 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)