Navigating the Troubled Waters of Japan
Traveling to Japan is an adventure that I am looking forward to. Due to the recent catastrophic events, I will be putting my plans on hold. Here are a few reasons that you may want to do the same.
According to the New York Times, our government does not trust the reports currently coming out of Japan regarding the severity of the crisis surrounding the nuclear power plants in the northern region of the country. In order to gain first-hand knowledge of the scope of the disaster, our government has begun flying drones and U2 spy planes over the affected areas. Further involvement of our government includes the delivery of “pods” which contain radiation detection equipment. If the U.S. government is taking additional steps to evacuate citizens from Japan, as well as to gather their own information, I would operate under the old motto, “Better Safe Than Sorry”.
Some of Japan’s nicer restaurants are now offering patrons a device that measures levels of radiation in the food as well as in the staff and patrons. This is because of the reports that some fruits, vegetables and meats may be contaminated with dangerous levels of radiation. This infected food was not quarantined and has made its way into the Japanese food supply. I do not know about you, but if I need to check my food, and the wait-staff, for dangerous levels of radiation, I am going to stay as far away as possible.
In the areas of the country directly impacted by the disaster, there is little-to-no food and limited aid to be found. The cold currently engulfing the region, along with fears of radiation poisoning, has slowed relief efforts considerably. This past weekend Japanese officials have released the fact that 1.6 million, and possibly more, households have no access to water, not to mention safe water. Of the grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations that are open, lines are currently longer than the minimal amount of resources that have come into the northern coastal region. Because of the length of time it will take to complete the relief effort, the current relief workers are only working during daylight. While this is not the case in the metropolitan areas, it does raise the question about the long lasting effects to the country and how long it is going to take to get back to business as usual.
Panic, concern and resource shortages are also being seen in the Japanese economy. When I think of Japanese industry, I think of electronics and vehicles. Japan’s auto industry is aiding in the relief effort by closing down some of its plants. In addition, many plants have seen a devastating impact on their structures. Many facilities are completely destroyed. Nissan has a plant in Tennessee; they are now considering shipping motors made in Tennessee to Japan, to be installed in vehicles for the Japanese market. It is hard to believe that Japanese automakers will be importing Japanese products from the U.S. to Japan. One potential upside that the Japanese economy may see is a surge in buying and building to replace the damaged hard and soft goods as well as the boom repairing the infrastructure may provide.
Often times when these type of disasters occur there are many people that want to be a direct part of the relief effort. Due to the risk of dangerous levels of radiation, I would encourage those looking to help, to do so by way of a monetary donation to relief organizations such as the Red Cross. The best way to donate to the Red Cross is to go tot their website at www.redcross.com. That being said, be sure you know who you are donating to before breaking open the check-book. Often times there are organizations setup to scam people out of their donations. I suggest donating directly to the Red Cross, however if there are other organizations that you trust and support, go ahead.
It is one of my goals to go to Japan with my family. I think that for now I am going to move it down the list a bit and take a wait and see approach. For those of you that need to travel to Japan for business or other pressing matters I would urge you to do so with caution.