Boing Boing Live: Japan Quake, 10 days later, with Matt Alt in Tokyo

[Video Link: Boing Boing Live] Tokyo-based author and translator Matt Alt (Twitter: @matt_ALT) joined Boing Boing's Dean Putney and I early morning Japan time for a live-streamed video conversation about the Japan earthquake aftermath, 10 days after the massive quake, tsunami, and ensuing nuclear crisis began. Some of what we discussed in the hour-long chat: • How is life in Tokyo right now? Blackouts, rationing of various forms, how are things different? • Focus on the nuclear crisis vs. rescue efforts for quake/tsunami missing • Food supply issues in various places, plus concerns over food/water safety + radiation that came up over the weekend • Media: perceptions in Japan re: foreign coverage, and how has coverage by Japan news networks changed over the past couple weeks. A partial archive of the chat transcript of viewers who joined us as this was recorded follows. It was nice that the chat room was populated with a number of people who were watching this in Japan, before they went to work for the day. If you have more questions for Matt (some really good, specific ones came in just as we ended), add them in the comments, and we'll see if he can't answer them here. (Tech note apologia: Audio at the first 10 seconds or so of the stream is missing, we re-start with audio at about 10 seconds in. We did this as a three-way video chat on the new version of Skype, fed into Livestream using a screen/audio capture app. This was our second experiment with that setup and we had some hiccups; it kicked one user off at the 15 minute mark, and the audio levels on Xeni are pretty blown out. Sorry!)

TweetJin: Talking about mess, you guys should seen my desk last Friday! oheso: My wife's CD collection hit the floor. oheso: My office: not so different. TweetJin: First sign of trouble was loud bang. That was the blinds hitting against the window cos the building had literally tilted TweetJin: Then, jolts and, that was scary! John: another argument for iTunes King Kernow: I have heard that Mount Fiji has been rumbling .. is there any possibility that it might erupt ? oheso: King, I think someone has been pulling your leg. King Kernow: ok.. phew aokajiya: Fuji's pretty sound asleep. Joli: I don't think so King Kernow: thats good to know oheso: But yes, it's officially not a dead volcano. Joli: And I disagree about Matt & co talking out of thier butts tedm1: who is kid at lower middle of screen? Joli: I live here and I think Matt pretty much nails it in terms of lving in Tokyo oheso: Dean, shout out again! Joli: and staying here during all this crisis peterkvt80: extreme close-up TweetJin: Panic also struck China John: there's like 113 "active" volcanoes in Japan. good argument for geothermal power plants bosbesbarb: @ oheso: eriously? no digital back ups or anything? oheso: No matter where you get your energy, if you use lots of it, you're going to have issues. Joli: bingo TweetJin: Matt...rice is now back in Seiyu... oheso: @bos you mean the CDs? We're so 1990s in my fam. gen: oops bosbesbarb: no, got disconnected wah: nyoooo tedm1: crashed here oheso: The thing is Japan is better than most 1st world countries in terms of power conservation. King Kernow: heres a good link showing japan activity.. works best if you fast forward King Kernow: aokajiya: Matt & co. were doing the valuable service of comparing coverage from indigenous sources to that from Western sources in a non-sensationalist way. oheso: OK, bell rang. Time for me to get to work. Nice chatting with yall. TweetJin: @oheso: u sure about that? I don't think so. Just take a walk around Shinjuku or Shibuya tedm1: we hear you, just continue oheso: @TweetJin per person, much less than other countries. sep332: skype can't count that high tedm1: ok, working, go gen: back! trufants: yup...I suspect Americans don't deal as well in some ways b/c we as a society feel so entitled and selfish, luckily our wealth sometimes makes up for it oliver: it's the radiation! Dean: Whew, sorry guys! prunella: She's probably on a Mac… Skype sux on a Mac oheso: I don't have the figures at hand, but tweet me at @djfoheso if you want me to look 'em up. trans356: hi TweetJin: Panic buying notwistanding, Japanese people have behaved really well during the crisis oheso: K, I'm out. Dean: Seems to be working now. trufants: are roads and fuel available to get food up to the northern areas? Joli: the Japanese have certainly been reisilient in the face of all this TweetJin: They still lined up patiently Joli: sorry--can't spell! TweetJin: It's a glum today here in Tokyo. Rainy and thick clouds Joli: roads up north on the eastern side are now finally accessible Joli: fuel is more available, but there are still limits in many areas on how much you can buy Joli: anywhere from Y2000 to Y5000 limit tedm1: where is the "affected area" Matt? peterkvt80: So if you eat more seaweed won't that block the radioactive iodine? TweetJin: stores placed limits on bottled water, too. You can only buy 1 bottle of 2L per person tedm1: great question tedm1: frozen wah: :( tedm1: matt, consider ustream please Dean: you may need to pause and restart if it froze Dean: This is no good :( Joli: there's anecdotal evidence that seaweed and other herbs, like holy basil can help block the body's absorption o radiationf gen: "stabilized" is maybe too early to say... TweetJin: ustream can do this? anyway, the stream looks seamless on my system John: that shelf doesn't look secured to the wall like it should be in quake zone Dean: Any questions? TweetJin: Matt! Kichijoji represent!! mallum: yep jeremy: is everyone's video frozen or just mine? karentaylor: Have their been any profiles of the Fukushima 100? Who are they? TweetJin: just ures King Kernow: are the skyscrapers designed to withstand a tsunami Calton: Certain staples still short: haven't seen milk in Tokyo-area stores since last Tuesday. gen: karentaylor: not that I have seen TweetJin: Re Fukushima 100, there's actually about 280 or 300 of them but are rotated on duty at 50 at a time Joli: milk is available first thing in the morning, but sells out quickly TweetJin: Sliced breads are now available too and sometimes last long enough into the evening Dean: any other questions? King Kernow: is there an anti nuclear power feeling in japan now? trufants: are consumers rushing to buy geiger counters etc? TweetJin: What are your impressions of how the Japanese leadership handled the crisis as compared to say how Americans might have handled it? karentaylor: thanks Matt gen: King Kernow: there always was an anti-nuke group in Japan but they were marginalized gen: now, clearly they are not on the margins King Kernow: is it growing now mallum: How frequent/scary are the aftershocks now ? gen: aftershocks slowing TweetJin: Yes, Geiger Counters are selling like hotcakes in Akihabra gen: maybe 1 big one per day; M3 + a few times a day barcelonaguy: There's any scientist in Tokio defending the 'chernobyl option' of burying them all in concrete etc. mallum: gen: compared to many last week ? gen: barcelonaguy: many voices in Tokyo saying many things mallum: many per day gen: fewer per day aokajiya: We trust boingboing. gen: as each day passes mallum: gen TweetJin: I really have to get ready for work mallum: gen: thanks TweetJin: I didn't feel an aftershock yesterday Dean: Thanks for stopping by TweetJin gen: Matt: agreed! bosbesbarb: matt. so agree! Joli: once again--Matt nails it! TweetJin: Bye guys.... Dean: Bye! erb: Question : What is your opinion on Fly-jin? Dean: What's Fly-jin? bosbesbarb: Love the name Dean: Is that a serious question? erb: The foreigner who flew Tokyo en-masse Joli: that's what they're calling foreigners who have left aokajiya: gaijin (foreigners) who 'fly' away Dean: k Calton: Now that's insulting. Joli: yeah--it is CT: I don't think that the journalists knew what a millisievert was before. Calton: I know some people who left, and I can't blame them. aokajiya: Q for Xeni/Matt > how can we get more crowdsourced information into the mainstream media. A boingboing segment on CNN, for example. How would that be curated? erb: It is not a question of insult. Personnaly, I believe they had to deal with lots of pressure. But I want Matt to answer Calton: Some of them did so, based on the ones I know, based on extreme outside pressure from family and friends back home. Joli: for many foreigners it was half-term/spring break, so many families were planning to go away anyway erb: exactly. Still would like Matt's opinion Calton: "Fly-jin" is a godddamned insult. Calton: The cowardice is inherent in the name. Dean: Is this a question I should ask? Joli: I agree with erb--I think it's a question worth asking karentaylor: Isn't it more that 'fly' rhymes with 'gai'? aokajiya: The fly-jin meme is definitely spreading, I'd like to know if it's actually being used on TV/in the media? (Some local want to comment?) trufants: after Katrina, many people left their homes and went to stay w/ relatives far away..why not leave temporarily if you can? It would ease the demand for relief wouldn't it? Calton: One of my best friends took advantage of the French government evacuation due in great part to pressure from parents in the US, relatives in France, and even her (Japanese) husband. Joli: I don't disagree with you, Carlton, but unfortunately it's a product of the human condition to come up with stuff like that when there's a clear split in a group of people barcelonaguy: Question: There are any scientist in Tokio defending the 'chernobyl option' of burying them all in concrete etc. ? jeremy: THe rule of thumb is that after a quake of magnitude M, there are 10 afterhsocks of magnitude 1/10M, 100 of 1/100M, 1000 of 1/1000M, and so forth Calton: Her husband didn't -- couldn't -- leave, but he urged her to go. King Kernow: intrested if anyone here from west USA and is there any increase in shaking going on there at moment? rhenley: No quick fix seen at Japan's nuclear plant another setback, the plant's operator said Monday it had just discovere rhenley: that some of the cooling system's key pumps at the complex's troubled Unit 2 are no longer functional _ meaning replacements have to be brought in. mentis: Any indication that rebuilding efforts could generate sufficient jobs to boost Japan's economy? aokajiya: I like "Edaru" -- v. to work overtime w/out sleeping, based on Edano, gov't spokesman karentaylor: yes - Edano was looking pretty beat Joli: I hadn't heard that one--I love it! bosbesbarb: Nice! Calton: I'm staying, but that doesn't make me in any way superior or smarter. aokajiya: 枝だる, is how they're writing it apparently. Calton: It was just my choice and circumstances. Joli: again--I agree with you, Carlton bosbesbarb: eda from edamame, right? Dean: Questions? Dean: If you had one earlier, repeat it please. King Kernow: is any plans to build tokyo sea defences gen: gotta run; catch you all later, I'm @gen Dean: Later gen aokajiya: cya, gen Joli: will rebuilding help boost the economy mentis: Yes: Any indication that rebuilding efforts could generate sufficient jobs to boost Japan's economy? Dean: Good one. mentis: Thanks ^_^. jeremy: Is there anything, short of the onset of unhealthy radiation in Tokyo, that would make you re-evaluate your decision to stay? Fred McDonald: I'm wanting to return to see friends this year or next, what do you think the employment market is going to look like? jeremy: Because at the point at which there is unhealthy radiation in Tokyo, it would be difficult to leave Fred McDonald: Also looking forward to next Otakuverse Zero Joli: and yes--the same kanji for edamame bobk: OUr exchange student is scheduled to return to Sendai in two weeks...any advice? Fred McDonald: Next year or two mallum: due to visit Tokyo in 4 weeks.. bosbesbarb: I'll be going to Tokyo in three weeks, from Amsterdam. Empty suitcase to fill. Anything I can bring? MayaCecile: Me too, Mallum. aokajiya: wow re: exchange student. have they been in contact with any relatives? mallum: MayaCecile: do you still plan on going ? or gonna wait and see ? Joli: there was talk of a "donate a bag" program for travellers to pack a bag and donate it upon arrival bobk: yes, family is able to stay in their house. Waitng inlines for food and eater. Conservinggas by biking. Sounds "safe" considering, but still.... MayaCecile: Still planning on it for now, but waiting it out as long as possible before we can't cancel our tickets... Joli: from what I've been hearing, things like toothbrushes and extension cords are needed--sounds weird, I know Joli: great job, guys! mallum: MayaCecile: same here caven: amen to that trufants: good webcast, thanks bosbesbarb: yep King Kernow: thanks dean..nice end credits Joli: thanks & bye! @joliinjapan King Kernow: hahaha karentaylor: thanks - see ya all later mallum: MayaCecile: I hope we make it. aokajiya: thanks, matt, xeni & techdude peterkvt80: great stuff RubenHaan: thanx . geat webcast MayaCecile: mallum: Fingers crossed for us! arc: I don't mean to make light of what happened, but I'm looking forward to what Japan's gonna do next with energy technology. Calton: Good job. Thanks. MayaCecile: Great webcast, guys. Thank you for putting this on! King Kernow: great web cast tho... thanks for orchestrating it Joli: if there's an url for the recorded webcast please let me know as I would like to tweet it mallum: yeah very cool, thanks folks



  1. Japan is very prepared and has responded magnificently. But it’s been illuminating to follow NHK for reports on the difficulties they face in the disaster zone. It’s a large area with spotty communications so it’s been difficult to map what people need and where the need is greatest. Coastal roads and railroads are washed away. Trucking in stuff across the mountains has been difficult because many roads are damaged by the quake and unfamiliar to drivers. Electricity has been largely restored but running water was still not available to over a million households this weekend. On the whole the cities are getting what they need but isolated communities still face grave problems. But things are rapidly getting better and I hope we don’t see more deaths from now on.

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