intelligent life on fukushima:
Most of the local officials who addressed the meeting told harrowing stories of the chaos, fear and information vacuum as they followed orders to evacuate their villages—and then moved to areas where the radiation was even more dangerous. Kanouya-san told a more personal story, with such a poignant sense of both anger and futility in his voice that it reminded me just how incomprehensible the events of that tragic time were. As if to underline the point, a man in the audience stood up early in the hearing and began to groan. It was such a loud, incongruous noise, I thought at first it was a glitch in the sound system. But then I saw him ambling from one end of the conference room to the other, sounding like a gored bull.
Stunned by this raw display of emotion, a veteran Japanese journalist, sitting next to me, leaned across and whispered in English, “This cannot be Japan.”…
Often their deaths showed how the seam of stoicism that marks the people of Fukushima endured to the end. Their stories also showed the reality of village life—of jealousies and spite, as well as harmony and uniformity. One lady, married to a cranky old asthma sufferer, had been cruelly mistreated by him and his mother throughout their married life. When the mother-in-law died, her friends urged her to leave him. But she stood by him even as the tsunami crashed over the house, listening to his stubborn insistence that he would not budge. She died by his side.