It’s been 24 days since mother-nature released the M9.0 quake that was shortly followed by the 14m high (37.9m in some places) tsunami upon Japan. After the first week, things were limited and uncertain. The flow of information provided by TEPCO and Japan’s government officials constantly delayed and down-played. Infrastructure was all but grind to halt. Trains were stopped and gas was difficult to come by. The Fukushima power plants more than highlighted TEPCO’s (lack of) crisis management abilities alongside that of the government.
After the second week, the so-called scheduled black-outs highlighted another issue: lack of city planning. Each “zone” that TECPO claimed will be affected were in fact nothing more than power substations where they flipped-the-switch. These power stations distributed power to uneven areas. This lead to half of some neighborhoods without power while some homes across the street had power. This gave rise of complaints against the company where many felt unfairly treated. Additionally, many of the “scheduled outages” never happened. It turns out that TEPCO was simply making last minute decisions based on current load-demands. This shows poor planning and communication with the general public. This ultimately hurts the overall economy when it’s already in the gutter. As many business had to plan around the scheduled blackouts, this forced many business to simply close. The closure of these business, in turn, forces many employees out onto the street. When Japan’s overall employment is officially 4.9%, it goes without saying how this does not help.
Then we add the scare of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plants. Many Tokyoites have run for the “hills” in search of safety – many relocating to Osaka. Even corporations are re-evaluating their “backup sites” within reach of Tokyo. While those whom live within 50km of the disaster site are trying to survive without leaving their long-lived homes. Delivery of goods became a major issue as truck drivers refused to drive near Fukushima. Fortunately, many volunteer groups have sprung up to fill the gap of critical supplies to the hardest hit areas.
Now past week three, we find ourselves slowly returning to normal within Tokyo. While recovery efforts for Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures will take months to years to complete, Tokyo is quickly finding it’s fast pace again. As I look around the office, I see most of the usual faces going about the daily business. While only a few overly scared and panicked individuals have quit and left the country, the rest of us “brave” souls will continue on. The radiation meters in both air and water for Tokyo have almost returned to levels last seen prior to the triple-disaster’s arrival. While they are slightly elevated, they are still considered harmless, even on the long-term scales.
All that remains (for Tokyo and surrounding areas) is for the power issues to be resolved as quickly and safely as possible. For northeastern Japan, the struggle will continue for many months to come.