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“Technology and organization – the central themes of the modern era”

Stop Screwing Around and Get Organized

Stop Screwing Around and Get Organized By fitzage on Flickr


  1. “I feel that the government needs to attach itself to a project that would be popular with the citizens of Japan. The notion of sacrificing, or the attempt to go above and beyond the call of duty, is a Japanese trait ingrained in the mindset of the older generation of the Japanese populous. The people of Japan are starting to lose hope in their government, and the government needs to reassure them that they are trying their best to rectify the disaster that has struck the Tohoku area. One can see that the “suicide corp”, as Hosono has idiotically dubbed, is somewhat controversial, and with the backing of several politicans, it can gain more momentum and allow for others to join their cause. That said, Japanese people love their legal, political red tape more than the average bear, and this is just another example of it.” [A comment left on this blog]
  2. “We have been conditioned to regard the nuclear issue as something so political and unrelated to our daily lives that it’s only for experts to deal with, not for us to even think about. But it took just one business enterprise to point out to us, in words that were completely devoid of sensationalism or hyperbole, that it is actually our own responsibility to get involved.” [Novelist Genichiro Takahashi, writing in the Asahi Shimbun, May 27th, 2011: POINT OF VIEW/ Genichiro Takahashi: Finding post-disaster hope in people who avoid ‘big words’]
  3. “What they’ve been taught is this: everything is created from above already; there is no more room; the individual invents nothing.” [from John Rappoport Music]
  4. “The central theme of the modern era is: technology and organization. It was not always seen to be that. But the men who are riding the biggest horses of organization in this world today… have come to realize that… domination can be achieved just through improving the functioning of their organizations. Their ant colonies… in the long run it doesn’t really matter what car or movie or CD or medicine or cosmology or God or law enforcement system is sold as the product of a given organization. Yes, it has to be interesting and functional up to a point, but whatever wild desire and surmise once motivated an inventor or a theologian or a president to start one of these organizations, and make a product, a service, a particular THING for the public, much of that is gone now, that passion is gone and it doesn’t matter. What matters, to an alarming degree, is making the public PERCEIVE that it likes the product. What matters is that the public… have somehow deadened their own perception of reality so that they can become passive enough to accept organization as the ruling force of the world, so that they can accept what organization gives them as consumers and demands of them as employees without blinking or rebelling. And individual creation, and small-group creation are the magnificent trumping answers to that. Undeadening perception and expanding the scope and power of the creative imagination… Let’s break out. As the writer William Burroughs used to say, Wouldn’t you?” [Jon Rappoport, Full Power, 91-2.]

Notice how item #1 and #2 are about perception: it’s important that the people of Japan perceive their government as popular, as backing popular projects , begging the question, if they’re popular, why is the government necessary? People need to perceive something as “legit”. In item #2, the questions going begging  are, “We have been conditioned” … by whom? Who is “we”? And are we pure victims, or (as the commenter noted in #1) has the Japanese people’s love for legal, political red tape made them willing participants in their own conditioning?

There is a certain irony in item #2: that he was under the spell of one organization was an insight prompted by anOTHER organization! Organizations are competing for customer loyalty, not just for their particular products but for allegiance to their particular brand of organization,; perhaps loyalty to the idea of organization as the legit, ruling force; in this case, that politicians and experts are best left to manage the important aspects of our lives.

The March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis seem to have banged a big hole in a lot of people’s loyalty, indeed to their very idea of “loyalty”, i.e. meekly accepting the decisions and directives of the politicians and the elites. This acquiescence was based on an assumption: that those in charge have our best interests at heart, that the authorities are fundamentally on our side. Is this assumption justified? It seems many people, prompted by the March disaster and its aftermath, are asking themselves this question.

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Japan retired nuclear workers ready for duty – Yahoo! News

“Skilled Veterans Corps”. Good name. It took a politician to call them (publicly) a “suicide corps”. Way to go, Hosono! Diplomatic, eh?

This article has more details than the one Mike Rogers linked to yesterday.

More than 160 engineers, including many former atomic plant workers, aged 60 or older say they want to set up a “Skilled Veterans Corps” to help restore the cooling systems crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

via Japan retired nuclear workers ready for duty – Yahoo! News.

“We need to bring the participants’ voices to parliament as well as to the government,” said Hiroe Makiyama, an upper house member of the centre-left Democratic Party of Japan.

What the heck for? To make it look like the parliament and the government are actually doing something? As the man who came up with the idea, Yamada, said,

“A functioning cooling system is indispensable,” he pointed out. “But who is supposed to build it? Only people can do it”

Only people. And not politicians, but people who actually know what they are doing. As Masahiro Ueda, 69, a former nuclear power plant worker with more than four decades of expertise on water pumps of cooling systems, put it:

“Someone should take action. You can’t work properly at nuclear plants without specialist knowledge.”

“We will also consider the necessary legislation to back the project.”… said Hiroe Makiyama, an upper house member of the centre-left Democratic Party of Japan.

Why is legislation necessary?

“We are very thankful and want to accept their feeling of devoted action,” said Goshi Hosono, the special adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan in charge of addressing the ongoing crisis, according to local media.

“But our principle is that we should stick to procedures that will not require such a ‘suicide corps’,” Hosono said.

Translation: we’d rather Tepco paid minimum wages to inexperienced sub-contractor workers who don’t know what they’re getting into, than nuclear industry veterans who know exactly what they’re doing and what the risks are, and are more than likely to criticize Tepco and the government’s strategies. Who needs that, sheesh! We’re in charge, and we don’t want anyone throwing doubts on our competence, duh!

And anyway, initiative is a dirty word. It upsets solidarity and harmony, the pillars that uphold Japanese society, doncha know.

March 5th 2008 - Everyone should give themselves a slap on the wrist sometimes

"Slap on the wrist" (for initiative). Photo by Stephen Poff on Flickr (click photo to visit)



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Nuke plant worker mum about own exposure to fallout | The Japan Times Online

The “faceless Fukushima 50”, they’ve been called. They’ve also been banned from talking to the media, although some are obviously defying the ban (or is this a deliberate leak?).

I haven’t been keeping a beady eye on non-Japanese media reports about these, so I’m not sure how they have been reported, but no doubt there will be (or perhaps have been) the usual, predictable slew of “Cover-up!! Government lies!!!”-type articles. It sells newspapers and attracts eyeballs, which is what “media” is all about.

A group of Japanese women I spoke to recently about the “faceless Fukushima 50” did not jump to this conclusion. What was their conclusion? That TEPCO was not revealing names in order to protect the workers. After all, everyone is guessing that the workers have been exposed to high levels of radiation. What happens to them after they come home? If they try to change jobs? Chances are high that they will be ostracized.

Voice of America reporter Steve Herman, who traveled around the quake-hit area for 7-10 days after the earthquake and whose reporting focused on the Fukushima nuclear crisis, tweeted on his return to Tokyo that everyone was glad to see him back but no-one wanted to hug him!

Imagine how it might be for those TEPCO workers if they were “outed”.

I have no evidence to prove that this is, in fact, TEPCO’s motivation for keeping their workers anonymous. However, if my past experience is any guide, the typical, Western, knee-jerk conclusion is wrong, more often than not, when it comes to interpreting Japanese behaviour. The parameters are different.

This Japan Times article says Murata has stayed at the plant since March 11, but an earlier Japan Times article (April 3) reported “In regular rotation, groups are bused out to three-day shifts of punishing work at the water-logged, radiation-spewing complex.”

“I can’t tell you. It’s personal information,” said Yasuki Murata, a 44-year-old worker from the plant’s planning and public relations section, batting away repeated questions about his radiation exposure in an interview Wednesday.

Since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant, causing it to spew radioactive materials into the environment, Murata has been staying on the plant’s premises in a two-story quake-proof building whose few windows are covered with lead plates to keep out radiation.

via Nuke plant worker mum about own exposure to fallout | The Japan Times Online.

TEPCO workers in happiers days

TEPCO workers in happier days (click photo for source)

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Japan nuclear crisis: South Korea schools closed over Fukushima radiation fears | Mail Online

It is to try and prevent things like this happening, that the Japanese government yesterday asked foreign media to report objectively on the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday, as sensationalist or factually incorrect reports are believed to have fanned fears and led to import restrictions on Japanese products.

Notice that the Daily Mail article does not provide any figures. By ommission, it suggests that the parents’ fears were justified.

Scores of schools in South Korea were closed today as teachers and parents panicked over fears that falling rain could be carrying radiation from Japans crippled nuclear plant.As rain swept across the Korean capital, Seoul, and the surrounding Gyeonggi province, classes were cancelled or cut back and children were hurried to their homes.Seoul is around 750 miles from the damaged nuclear plant at Fukushima and since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami radiation has been

via Japan nuclear crisis: South Korea schools closed over Fukushima radiation fears | Mail Online.

教室出租 02 by Sharelady on Flickr

教室出租 02 by Sharelady on Flickr

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Be objective, not sensationalist, foreign media told | The Japan Times Online

It’s official: foreign media sensationalized the Fukushima crisis and were even factually wrong. Shock! Horror! Shorely not!!

Shock Shock Horror Horror by Jeremy Brooks on Flickr

Shock Shock Horror Horror by Jeremy Brooks on Flickr

Interestingly, or perversely, some foreigners in Japan seemed to believe the sensationalist press rather than the restrained Japanese one, precisely because the restrained reports gave the impression of witholding information, leading to mistrust.

Tokyo has been asking foreign media to report objectively on the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday, as sensationalist or factually incorrect reports are believed to have fanned fears and led to import restrictions on Japanese products.State Foreign Secretary Chiaki Takahashi told a news conference that the government believes some reports by foreign media were “excessive,” and through Japanese diplomatic missions abroad has urged the news organizations responsible to correctly and objectively disseminate information.Ministry officials said some foreign media, especially tabloids, have overemphasized the danger of radioactive materials leaking from the Fukushima plant by focusing on extreme projections

via Be objective, not sensationalist, foreign media told | The Japan Times Online.

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futab (new word)

Just learned a new word, thanks to a photo on Flickr. and the urban dictionary.