The following excerpts pretty much speak for themselves, but because this is the media speaking, take a large lump of salt with all this. I’ll add my usual pearls of wisdom after you’ve read the quotes.

“It breaks my heart that they did nothing for the children,” said Sadako Monma, herself a mother of two, who has run the Soramame center for 15 years. “Our answer was to stop waiting for someone to help us.”

Slow action by the government has set off a revolt among the usually orderly ranks of Japanese bureaucrats.

“I don’t believe the government,” said Kanako Nishikata, 33, a mother of two elementary school children here. “The air here is dirty. The soil is dirty. They are leaving Fukushima to suffer and perish.”

via In Japan, Fukushima Parents Grow Angry Over Radiation – NYTimes.com.

The figure is equivalent to 20 times the annual radiation limit for ordinary people. When releasing the statement, the ministry also did not touch on any measures to decontaminate school facilities.

Parents voiced complaints and concern. “It is a figure too high for children,” said one parent. “No specific measures have been presented,” said another.

The city of Koriyama has decided to remove top soil from school playgrounds on its own. Even so, the central government brushed aside the local government’s move. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, “Based on the guideline of the education and science ministry, there is no need for removal.”

“A snap decision it may have been but we thought it better (than doing nothing) in removing potential sources of radiation children may be exposed to,” said 56-year-old Mayor Gigyou Takamatsu.

Koji Ito, a 43-year-old teacher at the school, said, “Data published by the state do not showed details of the situation. We thought it important to gather information on our own.”

Frustration appears to be growing about what people see as the education ministry’s slow actions, or lack of actions. On the school’s website, one message was posted after data were updated May 16 that said, “It is extremely regrettable that pupils, students and children in irradiated areas are forced to make efforts on their own toward reducing radiation exposure.”

via FOCUS: Judging gov’t steps inadequate, schools take action against radiation | Breitbart

TOKYO — In a stuffy room at the headquarters of the Tokyo Electric Power Co., many of the 250 Japanese journalists were furious at the executives lined up in crisp blue uniforms.

The reporters, mostly young men, demanded answers from the executives — exhausted older men seemingly from a different culture. Some reporters called on the executives to give back their salaries and swank vacation resorts. Others made long speeches listing the executives’ alleged misdemeanors, and they refused to heed a Tepco moderator imploring them to stop.

Reporters, protesters, evacuees and others are increasingly showing anger and losing their trust in Japanese authorities, who for years could count on an apathetic public to let them take care of things behind the scenes.

Long known for their deference to elders and bosses, many Japanese are increasingly disparaging leaders on chat sites and social media such as Mixi, a sort of Japanese version of Facebook. Protesters have spread messages about nuclear energy and animal rights to other cities.

The Atomic Energy Society of Japan, a nationwide conference of nuclear scientists, said the authorities “are seen holding back information and have lost credibility.”

Japan’s elite financial newspaper, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, has joined the criticism.

“The way Tepco releases information utterly lacks any sense of crisis,” the daily said in a front-page analysis. “Two months after the accident happened, it admitted a meltdown at reactor 1. They do not mention bad news until it is confirmed. Such an attitude has led to mistrust.”

Some authorities themselves are expressing frustration at the lack of straight talk about the situation in Japan.

via Japanese refuse to bow to authority: Furious public demands truth about meltdown | Washington Times

And

With almost every day bringing a new revelation about how TEPCO failed to release data in a timely manner, and how the government is trying to protect TEPCO or itself rather than kicking ass and taking names, this survey from iShare into nuclear-related information from the government found that not surprisingly, many, many people are dissatisfied.

Note that this survey was conducted over a month ago, and I suspect if it were repeated today the figures would be even further down the scales of trust and speed, as this week we have finally had official notification that there was a meltdown, despite all evidence pointing towards some degree of fuel rod melting and two months of most commentators agreeing that there had been.

via Vast majority find government slow, untrustworthy on Fukushima | 世論What Japan Thinks

 

vast majority find government slow, untrustworthy on Fukushima. From What Japan Thinks (click image to visit)

Well, about time! How long will this last?

I see two trends: one is to criticize the government for not doing enough, or for acting too slowly. In other words, the belief that government is the answer, is the “Big Daddy” that will, indeed must take care of everyone, is still firmly in place.

The other is a growing realization that, in this case at least, government ain’t gonna be moving quickly any time soon, so folks have to rely on themselves. In many cases, it is local government, as in the example of the schools in Koriyama, which moved into action on their own initiative, despite pooh-poohings from Tokyo that it was all quite unnecessary.

Another caveat:

“People in Japan want a simple answer: Is it safe or is it dangerous?” said Kuniko Tanioka, a member of Parliament’s upper house, on a recent visit to Washington. But given the state of radiation science, “there is no such thing” as a simple answer, Ms. Tanioka said. (via New York Times)

Good point. People want simple answers, but in this case, there are perhaps no easy answers. In other words, the disaster has shown that limits of “Big Daddy” government. It’s time to re-appraise and make use of personal initiative, something which reliance on central government does not foster. Yeah! Get out there and exercise that initiative muscle!

Japanese don’t like confrontations, and so usually differences of opinion are swept under the carpet. Reservations or concerns are not immediately expressed. People don’t speak out in protest immediately. They trust that there are probably good reasons for people acting as they do. They realize they cannot see the whole picture. They don’t want to make fools of themselves by blurting out a protest, only to discover that (duh!) those in charge had actually thought of that and discarded the solution because of other factors which were not generally known. This happens a lot in Japan. Personal experience teaches people that it’s probably wiser to keep their mouths shut, at least for the time being and wait until more evidence appears. Mike Rogers wrote a good post recently on The Value of Silence at Business Meetings – the Samurai Way.

While reading the Washington Times report about the reporters lambasting Tepco officials, I started feeling a little sorry for the older guys. Well, just a little. There may well be many reasons why they are tongue-tied: like, there’s just too much to explain and you can’t get it all into a sound-bite, especially when the other side is on the boil and not exactly in a listening frame of mind. It’s easy for outsiders to find fault and offer instant solutions. The suggestion to cover the whole Fukushima plant in concrete starting, like, yesterday, was one such, which I already wrote about here and here.

Final verdict: it’s too early to say! I think the whole situation in terms of technical and engineering problems is just very complex, and I’m suspicious of quick and easy answers. However, it’s pretty clear that the “cozy” relationship between the elites in government and the elites running Tepco and the other power companies (especially the nuclear power ones) allowed dangerous incompetencies and inadequacies to remain unpunished and uncorrected.

A week ago there was a baffling discovery of excessive radiation found in tea bushes in an area south of Tokyo. I haven’t looked at a map, but it’s not inconceivable that this radiation came from some other nuclear plant, not Fukushima. They’ve probably all been leaking radiation on and off over the years, and none of it got reported. Only now, with every man and his dog sniffing the air with Geiger counters, it’s much harder for the nuclear plants to hush things up.