Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Post-Alarm Call

In this world, the one thing that's never in short supply is outrage. An endless parade of idiocy & atrocity is never further away than your TV set, and is sometimes as close as outside your window. This is honestly among the reasons for my recent "sabbatical": between the Libyan civil war; the ongoing atrocities in Syria; the latest terrorist attack in Mogadishu; fresh unrest in Egypt; the Monsoon-induced flooding that has claimed hundreds of lives in Pakistan, Thailand, and Vietnam; the ascension of the latest feckless whipping-boy to the Japanese Prime Minister's seat; Rick Perry's impression of a yo-yo; and, I dunno, Beyoncé plagiarizing avant-garde European choreography, I was stricken by total outrage-option-paralysis. So many things to be angry about, so little time!

In context of the true horrors listed above, that the theatrical reaction to Steve Jobs' death finally drew me back to my keyboard proves it's always the little straws that break the camel's back. I find some small comfort in knowing that I'm not alone.

But between every shiny, bloody distraction, it's too easy to forget that in much of the world, the dull struggle of daily life is still a struggle. Yesterday marked the seven-month anniversary of the March 11 disaster here in Japan. Months may as well be millennia in the 24-hour hypecycle, so even the domestic Japanese media has turned their attention away from those still stricken in Tohoku, as Takao Yamada angrily noted in the Mainichi on Monday:
Of utmost urgency now are the evacuation of children, decontamination, and the installation of becquerel monitors to measure radiation levels in food. But meanwhile, in Tokyo, we're talking about economic growth and the export of nuclear technology, as if what's going on in Fukushima is somehow irrelevant to us. That, I believe, is simply wrong.
To that end, I'm currently attempting to assemble a short radio documentary about the recovery effort in Tohoku.

This is where I need your help.

Since I'm pitching the documentary to a Canadian broadcaster, the piece needs to focus on Canadian citizens who live & work in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures - those places hardest hit by the catastrophe. I want to focus not only on the disaster itself, but also its long-term & still-felt effects, the reconstruction & return to something like "normality", and governmental response to the disaster. That last notion could be, I think, the most instructive on how to proceed in Tohoku and future crises: not only are the Japanese generally dissatisfied with how their own government has reacted, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that Canadian citizens felt more or less abandoned by their own government during a moment of desperate need. It's easy to see why, given that the bulk of the Canadian government's support to Japan was not monetary, or even military, but "moral".

So far, though, I've had little luck in finding anyone willing to speak about their experiences. If any of you reading this, through however many degrees of separation, know a Canuck in northern Japan who might be interested in sharing their experiences, please have them contact me by the e-mail address in the upper-right of this blog (under my profile pic). I'd be most grateful for their conversation.

In the meantime, it warrants mention that a friend & I organized a noise-improv gig back in March to benefit friends of ours up north. A recording of that show is available as a paid download, with all proceeds continuing to Red Cross Japan & other local charities involved in the recovery effort. As an album, it doesn't make for particularly easy listening, but these days, very little in Japan comes easily.

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