Freelancer covering Tohoku Disaster(s)
April 12, 2011 11:18 PM   Subscribe

Covering Tohoku The Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan (FCCJ) has posted a special edition of its No. 1 Shimbun covering the Tohoku Earthquake: FCCJ members, many of them freelancers, were the first on the scene after the quake and have led coverage since. Weeks after the global media pack left, they're still here. There's articles by veteran Japan reporters such as Charles Pomeroy who recently retired to Otsuchi after covering Japan for 50 years, to newer stringers such as Gavin Blair who worked as a "fixer" for foreign prima-donna journos dashing in and out of the disaster zone. There is a photo by photographer Rob Gilhooly who recently made a heartbreaking trip into the exclusion zone near the plants. Although not included in No 1 Shimbun, freelancer Yas Idei provides a Japanese perspective (in English) about the multiple disasters. Idei's piece about Rokkashomura is pretty enlightening, frightening, and depressing.
posted by KokuRyu (23 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
FYI, the No. 1 Shimbun link goes to the archive of the site, not to the actual issue (and there's no link there to the new issue there).

Still, this looks great. I didn't know about this group, or their paper. I'm looking forward to digging into this tonight.

From the safety of my earthquake bunker.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:31 PM on April 12, 2011

Interesting stuff. One of them - japangle (Andy Sharpy?) led me to this horrifying video of the end of Minami-Sanriku.
posted by unliteral at 11:58 PM on April 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

This link seems to be the entry page to the current issue.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:59 PM on April 12, 2011

Ah, I see it's Sharp not Sharpy.
posted by unliteral at 12:03 AM on April 13, 2011

Through a long, convoluted chain of links, this post brought me to google "Japan earthquake HAARP". Over one million hits. When did this conspiracy theory hit so big? I mean, HAARP has been blamed for natural phenomena for years, but one million indexed hits in just a month?? Did some celebrity blame HAARP in an interview or something?
posted by Bugbread at 12:19 AM on April 13, 2011

tyvm KokuRyu, can't wait to dig in.
posted by mwhybark at 12:23 AM on April 13, 2011

Bugbread: I recall watching a video on youtube a few days ago where a foreign nutjob was explaining in Japanese on some public access program all about why the US used this "quake weapon" against Japan.
posted by nightchrome at 12:37 AM on April 13, 2011

Not sure doing SLYT style posts belong here, in such a higher journalism fpp, but for those curious how the Earthquake Early Alert system works, this is the live tv at the time of the big quake. Shows the alert in advance on the screen, then you wait for the shaking to start.
posted by lundman at 12:39 AM on April 13, 2011

Been digging into this rich resource of great articles, each one a gem in its own right. Thanks for the post Kokuryu.

It would seem from your post that the umbrella term for the whole of the earthquake/tsunami all along the Japanese east coast is Tohoku.

Always been interested in Foreign Correspondents' Clubs around the world, the romance and lure of the FCC in the lives of Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, CJ Koch (The Year of Living Dangerously) and all that. Would love to visit the ones in Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Jakarta.

/derail re Bugbread's comment
HAARP is the acronym for the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. I don't know anything about it, just heard the acronym on the web. My father cloud seeded in Jamaica, West Indies. That's a type of weather modification. My godfather worked for the Pentagon and talked about his successful work on weather modification in Viet Nam, to create so much rain on the Ho Chi Minh Trail that the mud would make it unworkable. So I've heard that the military does work on weather modification and Wired did a mini article on it.

A Youtube user named DutchSinse has a channel whose vids have received more than 5 million hits re weather modification and weather issues.
/end of derail

Back to the post. It's very important the work these journalists from the The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan are doing, putting words to the catastrophe that is so vast it's almost beyond human comprehension. Am pleased that the journalists' writing is full of compassion. I particularly enjoy Rob Gilhooly's articles. His photographs are excellent as well.
posted by nickyskye at 1:21 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

nickyskye, Tohoku refers to the region that was hit, including Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, and other prefectures. Essentially it means east/north, or northeast Japan. It's the chunk below Hokkaido, sticking out above Tokyo and the region (Kanto) around it. Think of it like Midwest, or New England, or similar names for the States.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:32 AM on April 13, 2011

Martyn Williams who writes for IDG Media (PC World) has been doing some excellent English-language reporting, too.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:46 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Through a long, convoluted chain of links, this post brought me to google "Japan earthquake HAARP". Over one million hits. When did this conspiracy theory hit so big? I mean, HAARP has been blamed for natural phenomena for years, but one million indexed hits in just a month?? Did some celebrity blame HAARP in an interview or something?

Mrs. KokuRyu (who is Japanese) mentioned this, too.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:00 AM on April 13, 2011

And yet for a month the global news coverage of the Fukishima disaster has mostly been rife with misinformation, outright propaganda, governmental denial, and nuclear-industry spin.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 8:29 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just watched the Minami-Sanriku footage linked to above. In an attempt at getting a sense of context, all I can relate to is my sister's experience of losing her home in a fire less than three weeks ago. Nobody was hurt but EVERYTHING was lost. So she and her husband and their kids (ages 8-18) are left dealing with the ongoing shock of it, a magnitude of loss that will no doubt permeate their experience for years.

The word "profound" definitely applies.

And then I watch an entire town/city lose everything (in full knowledge that there were other towns that suffered the same) and all I'm left with is the sure knowledge that we don't have words for these things ... except perhaps, "humbled".

Great post.
posted by philip-random at 11:54 AM on April 13, 2011

"And yet for a month the global news coverage of the Fukishima disaster has mostly been rife with misinformation, outright propaganda, governmental denial, and nuclear-industry spin."

The little I've seen of global news coverage (US, Spanish, and French) has been "Mass exodus from Tokyo!! Radiation fallout everywhere!! People across Japan, even hundreds of kilometers away, wearing anti-radiation masks!! No, those aren't being worn because it's hay fever season, it's radiation!! Only 50 people in Fukushima, bravely sacrificing their lives!!" etc. Lots of misinformation and outright propaganda on the anti-nuclear end. I didn't see any governmental statements, period, so I dunno about government denial. Ditto with the nuclear-industry spin - I haven't heard anything from nuclear industry organizations around the world. Everything I've seen has been mostly anti-nuclear (with good reason, though I wish reporters would focus more on the actual bad things happening here, and not just making shit up to get viewers).

I gather what you meant by "misinformation" and "propaganda", though was pro-nuclear misinformation and propaganda? When did that start? It certainly hasn't been "for a month", though it may feel that way. The first 2 or 3 weeks after the quake global media coverage (or what saw of it) was decidedly and pronouncedly anti-nuclear. I haven't seen any global news on the issue for the last two weeks, though, so I take it it's a recent development?
posted by Bugbread at 2:29 PM on April 13, 2011

One of the most haunting accounts came from those who took refuge on top of the ferroconcrete town hall. They watched Fujio Koshita, a 57-year-old fireman, ring the bell on top of the nearby firehouse until he and the building were swept away. As the warning siren failed to work properly Koshita took it on himself to climb the bell tower to warn the town of the oncoming tsunami.

--The perilous beauty of Otsuchi, by Charles Pomeroy
posted by mwhybark at 5:19 PM on April 13, 2011

Hey Bugbread: this may just blow your mind but I think your characterizations about the coverage of Fukishima are wildly wrong. In other words not everyone agrees with you, and some of us saw a decidedly pro-nuke spin from day one about the events.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 8:40 PM on April 13, 2011

This may just blow your mind, but the fact that I may be wrong wouldn't remotely blow my mind. Like I said, I've only seen a little global coverage of the events, almost all of which was anti-nuclear. Perhaps it's just that the global news which has been brought to my attention was the ridiculous fear-mongery stuff, and the pro-nuke stuff wasn't brought to my attention. If, indeed, the media has been as pro-nuke as you say, then I'm certain my mistaken impressions are due to sampling error.

I wonder what news my mom is watching. I know that when I talk to her, she certainly doesn't sound like someone who has been a steady stream of propaganda and pro-nuke industry spin.
posted by Bugbread at 2:47 AM on April 14, 2011

I don't know I'll ask her.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 2:51 AM on April 14, 2011

posted by Bugbread at 2:58 AM on April 14, 2011

This article by Julian Ryall (photos by Rob Gilhooly) was incredibly moving in its sadness.
posted by PepperMax at 7:25 AM on April 14, 2011

I live in Canada. We don't have cable, but it's pretty easy to find tv content like CNN online, and most of the major news outlets are using AP, Reuters and BBC content.

The news is definitely hysterical. Meltdowns, panic buying, radioactivity spilling into the Pacific, radiation being measured in Massachusetts drinking water, stoic Japanese wearing masks, government coverups, another Chernobyl?, radioactive debris making its way across the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast...

99.9% of people outside of Japan (and many Japanese people themselves) have no idea about Japanese geography, so it's easy to think the entire country is wrecked. And then you hear about contaminated milk and produce and expanding evacuation zones.

Most people are going to turn the page. There's something happening in Libya, or the US government is going to shut down, or Charlie Sheen has a show somewhere.

If you have friends or relatives in Japan, though, you're going to follow the news a bit more carefully. My own parents do, although they have little understanding of the context of the crisis. We're planning a trip to Japan in November and December, and I am pretty sure there will be a lot of anxiety about our plans.

Haven't seen any pro-nuclear reporting.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:17 AM on April 14, 2011

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