* Incomplete and inconsistent information will not help Japan
There is panic and bewilderment in Japan’s neighbors – including South Korea, North Korea and China following the threat posed by rising levels of radiation caused by explosions at some three nuclear reactors as a devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake, followed by a dreadful tsunami swept across the northeastern part of the country.
Foreigners not only in Japan, but also in China and other countries close to Japan have been receiving phone calls and emails from loved ones – with regards to their health situation – as the rumor mill has it that the large amount of radioactive materials spewed into the air from Fukushima Daiichi in Japan will soon be blown across foreign territories causing enormous health disaster. As panic spreads among the population in various communities in China for example, some schools have sent out mass emails to students not to be panic-stricken – for the event in Japan has no immediate impact on the health of those living in China.
This is where the responsibilities of the Japanese government and foreign media organizations, especially western media outlets, come in. At the on set, Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government provided incomplete and inconsistent information about the meltdown as the reactors exploded. The Japanese government denied that there was going to be a meltdown, and that there will be no major risk to the health of the people. The Japanese government position was that there was no high risk on the people with regards to the radiation level. Later on, in a brief address, the prime minister pleaded for calm, but warned that radiation had already spread from the crippled reactors and there was “a very high risk” of further leakage.
Truth must be told. The Japanese government should stop any attempt to disseminate incomplete and inconsistent information which could only render the real picture of the possible nuclear disaster difficult to interpret – a picture which had initially been blurred, thus difficult to interpret as a result of the confusion that cropped up from Japanese government officials and executives of the Daiichi plant operators, Tokyo Electric Power Company.
Such uncertainties compounded by incomplete and inconsistent information will only worsen the state of mind of the already panic-stricken citizens as well as foreigners within Japan and in countries closer to Japan.
It is a known fact that prior to the earthquake – the worst in decades in Japan – then the devastating tsunami, and now the rising radiation levels – Naoto Kan was already a lame prime minister who was tussling between calls for him to step down and clinging to his decision of not stepping down. The current situation in Japan should by no means be any reason for the prime minister to try to “safe face” by proving how tough his government can braze the disaster and leaning on his government’s abilities in handling the disaster. Already, over ten thousand people are either dead or “missing”, while the infrastructure network has been badly damaged, and the Japanese economy further forced to plummet. And experts say it may take Japan decades to get back to the economic status it was before the disaster. Therefore, there is nothing to hide. There is no longer any face to safe, and so there is no need to be “diplomatic” in sending out complete and consistent information to the world as to what the true picture in the country is. Only complete and consistent information will help foreign experts around the globe to help Japan avert a nuclear outburst which is already being ranked as the worst in the world after the Chernobyl nuclear spill a quarter of a century ago.
It is as well true that in a crisis situation, letting the affected people know the true picture of a disaster may traumatize them, but when this is done for the sake of the good of the majority, for the sake of saving millions of lives not only in the affected region, but also in neighboring countries, then there is no question as to whether it is right for the government to let the world know what actually is on the ground.
This means that if the real death toll is released, and if the real amount of radioactive materials spewed into the air as a result of the explosions at the three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is made public, and if the real radiation level which is said to have risen is made known, and if the real threat of the possible nuclear disaster in Japan is made public, then Naoto Kan’s government will help foreign countries to swiftly intervene and save millions of lives.
At the same time, this is no time for any media organization – in the west or elsewhere – to manipulate information, fabricate content, or get involve in other forms of mass deception – as this will only be at the risk of millions of lives not only in Japan, but across the globe. This is no time for so-called international reporters to over “polish” their coverage of the disaster in Japan for whatever purpose. For once, like soldiers at the war front, international reporters – who are responsible to give the rest of the world the true picture of what is going on in Japan – should put aside whatever personal, organizational, national or diplomatic bias they may hold against Japan and work for the good of millions of people whose eyes are turned toward the quake-stricken country.
Meanwhile, this author extends his sincere and heartfelt condolences to the people of Japan, especially those who have already lost loved ones. To those whose loved ones are still “missing”, be strong for it is only in the face of difficult moments that a person discovers his true potentials.