Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan's Triple Crises

While I generally don’t discuss the events of the world on this blog, Japan' s 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which would have been a huge emergency in itself, followed by that tremendous, unforgettable tsunami, another catastrophe in itself, the ongoing aftershocks and the looming threat of a potential nuclear disaster are impossible to not acknowledge.

I am very grateful to have access to a variety of satellite television channels here in Vienna. In addition to the Austrian news channels and CNN, it has been very informative to watch NHK World, a Japanese news channel. They have broadcast many more videos and have shown in-depth interviews with survivors, rescuers, and a variety of experts, all adding to the understanding of the events in Japan today. Here's an image from NHK World describing the difficulty in distributing electricity throughout the country due to differing frequencies used in the country:

Many of my former colleagues and friends live in Japan and I am concerned for them, their families and am sympathetic for all the people whose lives have been changed by these events. My husband and his colleagues at the IAEA have been working around the clock to monitor the situation, collect and disseminate information.


  1. Martha, these catastrophies in coastal Japan are really incredible, and the ongoing struggle against the meltdowns will make it a disaster for the whole nation and probably beyond.

    Unfortunately I feel very much reminded of the Chernobyl incident, especially when looking at the governments' information policies - downplaying, informing late and incomplete...

  2. Yes, the potential for disaster is a real cause for concern for all of us. I want to give the operators and authorities the benefit of the doubt at the moment. The persons on site in these plants are surely very busy and very stressed right now. I hope they make good decisions and I hope, pray and send them all good wishes that they handle this situation successfully.

  3. I have tried not to look at pictures of these catastrophic events, not wanting to feel like gawking at other people's tragedy. Last night, opening the online page of The New York Times, I was overwhelmed with emotion when I saw this picture, an image of complete distruction in the vast foreground, and at the horizon line, a row of rescue personal. I looks like a scene from the end of the world. I cannot express the horror and the empathy I feel for the poor people of Japan. I hope they can at least avoid a nuclear disaster of wider magnitude than already unfolding.

  4. Merisi, When I click on your link I see a photo of people standing patiently in a grocery store line, which I don't think is the photo you intended. It is, however, indicative of the extraordinary sense of orderliness in Japanese society. I remember being there in 1978, seeing ashtrays along the Tokyo streets with the sign, "Smokin' clean." Not a single cigarette butt was on the sidewalk. I hope their sense of common good will help them survive and help them make wise decisions regarding the terrible nuclear crises that, as Markus said, could have far-reaching consequences.

  5. Dreadful - literally. And you're right to speak of it, Martha.
    All the best to your husband and all those @ IAEA who are working to minimise the damage/risks. Their coverage on their website is immensely informative and clear, BTW: highly recommended (even for idiots like me ;-)).

  6. Thanks, Minnie,
    I'll pass along your kind words.