japan charity 311.
(photo credit: gil shefler)
OSAKA – As the US on Thursday declared radiation emitted from the damaged
Fukushima nuclear reactors was “extremely high,” I set out to the streets of
Osaka, a city which is part of Japan’s second largest urban sprawl, to try and
gauge Japanese public opinion.
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To my surprise, there were no signs that
the country was in the midst of its worst crisis since World War II.
streets were filled with happy shoppers, and it seemed like everywhere I went
muzac was playing in the background.
Hampered by the language barrier, I
spoke to a handful of Japanese in rudimentary English. Each said roughly the
same thing: that they were troubled by what was going on, but that life must go
At one point, I came across a group of about 50 people queuing in an
Could this be where they are distributing food
rations or iodine pills in case the worse happens? But it wasn’t. It was a line
of customers waiting to buy bird-shaped cakes from a department
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Eva Martinez, a Spanish journalist who interviewed people on the
street of Osaka that day, admitted that the Japanese way of coping with things
was different than the one she was familiar with from home.
coming from a country experienced with terrorism, she said it made sense to
“They try to have empathy, like ‘yeah, we are sad,’ but at the same
time they are buying shoes,” she said.
“But I think it’s in the back of
their head in terms of life goes on.”
After walking around town for a few
hours, I came across what appeared to be one of the only visible signs that
something is amiss here: On several street corners young volunteers dressed in
white raise money for victims of the disaster.
“Arigatu,” thank you in
Japanese, they shouted and gave big bows each time a passerby slipped loose
change into their boxes, which was quite often.
I stood a few minutes
watching the spectacle from afar. It was reserved and respectful, and it seemed
to me like a very Japanese way of dealing with disaster.
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