Many commentators overseas and specialists on Japan have talked about how the March 11th Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami might be counted as major events along with the 1868 Meiji Restoration and the 1945 Japanese Defeat of World War 2. As a student of history, I’ve been fascinated by these events that forever shifted the path of history.
But frankly, I really wished I did not have to live through and watch this event unfold, real time right in front of me on live TV.
First of all, I should say that I am doing OK here in Tokyo. My house was shaken up a lot, and it took me a while to clear the books and other items that covered the floor. Immediately after the earthquake, a sizable project was dumped on my lap, and it took me a good part of the week to take care of it. I still have parts of my house that are a mess.
But my personal discomforts are nothing compared to the tragedy that continues on just to my north. While the Western press seems to be transfixed by the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Reactor troubles, I believe the true magnitude of this event lies elsewhere. The death toll is fast approaching 10,000 and with over 16,000 people still missing, the figure will most certainly rise much higher. Then there are the quarter of a million people have been made homeless. Many are old and their towns are completely ruined. There is a good chance that numerous cities along the coast will completely disappear.
Regarding free speech issues, the outlook ahead is impossible to predict.
Previously, there was strong expectation that debate over the last December’s revision of the Tokyo Healthy Youth Development Ordinance would intensify with the Anime Contents Expo competing against Tokyo Anime Fair, but both events have been cancelled. The shortage of electricity has been cited as the pressing practical reason, but the issues surrounding the Fukushima reactors most likely also play a role.
Because of the scale of the disaster that has struck Japan, numerous municipal legislative bodies and pundits have called for the 2011 unified regional elections to be postponed, not only for the areas directly impacted by the calamities, but for the entire nation. Part of this is because the shortage of electricity in the Kanto region is expected to have major impact on not only the elections on April 10th and 24th, but also on the campaign activities of the candidates. When everybody’s attention is placed on what’s going on in the Tōhoku region and a somber mood taking hold the population that compelling numerous joyous occasions to be cancelled (one Tokyo’s summer fireworks display has already been called off), an election under such circumstances will usually favor the incumbent.
The reason why I bring up the 2011 unified regional elections is because the man who most vocally advocated for the passage of Bill 156, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, has decided he will run for a 4th term after all.
The politics regarding his bid is very complicated, so I’ll skip it for now, but Mr. Ishihara’s chances for re-election may not be as secure as it was once thought. You can expect many people to be talking about Mr. Ishihara’s caustic comments regarding the tsunami and minorities as the election campaign goes into full swing, and with one particular candidate running against Ishihara, former Mizaki Prefecture governor Higashikokubaru, this election might be actually become a lot more competitive than once thought.
And, by the way, while Mr. Higashikokubaru won’t commit on rescinding Bill 156, he is rather critical on increasing regulation of anime and manga.
On a personal note, I’m very sorry for not being able to write more often. I’ll try my best but I have numerous projects lined up right in front of me, so it could get difficult.
Thank you for all you supportive words and please consider giving to the American Red Cross or other charities that can directly support people in need.
Stay safe and keep faith.