Wednesday 23 March 2011

Has the media overplayed the nuclear threat in Japan?

This week I’ve been reading a few blogs looking at the reporting of the nuclear crisis in Japan.

What I've read suggests much of the media’s reporting has been exaggerated, sensationalist and an overreaction.

My own feelings are that I understand there's been a huge earthquake, then a Tsunami that's killed thousands of people and destroyed entire towns - but I don't know what to make of the nuclear threat. I'm like 'what does it all mean' I'm so ignorant about it all.

The crisis at Fukushima is one those stories where I'm relying almost completely on the media to fill me in and explain what it all means, as I have no knowledge of my own I can bring to the table.

I'm beginning to think that many in the media don't know that much about the nuclear threat either.

I've read criticisms on some of the tabloid press coverage, which you'd half expect, but I've also heard that even Channel 4 News hasn't always got the facts right. If you can't rely on Channel 4 News you might as well give up!

Whenever you hear about a potential nuclear disaster the word Chernobyl immediately gets thrown about, but from my limited understanding of the crisis - the threat of another Chernobyl is minimal.

From the reports I've read, the Japanese have handled the situation quite well when you consider that a 40 year old nuclear plant has been struck not just by a massive earthquake but also a Tsunami - of course it's going cause a few problems, but not necessarily a nuclear meltdown as some have suggested.

Maybe I've missed it, but it would have been great if there were more stories explaining why we have nuclear power and what it's used for; as well as explaining the benefits and dangers.

The situation in Japan also has a personal context for me as my cousin lives in Japan with his Japanese wife and two year old daughter.

The British government along with other countries have appealed to their citizens to leave Japan for their own safety. This is an overreaction.

My cousin's been keeping family and friends up to date with what's been happening on his Facebook page. He posted a great comment the other day explaining why he wouldn't be leaving Japan.

Living in Tokyo, he and his family are in no immediate danger, and besides he's made his life over there. I sensed that if he returned to England he would be abandoning the country that he's made his home.

There's also the small matter of the cost of flights back to England, and other issues like giving up your job, all your responsibilities, household bills etc.

My cousin suggested that I have a look at the this news site NHK Japan to get a local perspective on events.

Despite the problems at Fukushima it's important to remember that it's been the earthquake and Tsunami combined that resulted in the tragic loss of life and not a nuclear fallout.

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