TOKYO — I'm in Japan on vacation this week -- mainly to care for my ailing mother.
Every time I return, the deteriorating health of my mother breaks my heart. It's been tough, but I'm slowly learning to accept the situation as the natural aging process.
What's unacceptable to me, though, when I come back here, is to witness firsthand how Japan is handling the persistent radioactive leakage problem at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. The people, the government, and the entire nation seem to be living in total denial.
Hitomi Nakayama, a lawyer and a long-time friend of mine since college days, calls it "nuclear fatigue." She laments the fundamentally stoic nature of people in the stricken region of Tohoku. Some who lived in villages in Fukushima, heavily nuked as a result of the meltdown at the power plant, still harbor dreams of returning to their homes. Many have never even considered suing the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco). Instead, with a shrug, they say they're thankful for Tepco's contribution to economic growth in the region, Nakayama explained.
People and the media in Japan would rather talk about something else, like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as they look past the still unfolding nuclear crisis in Fukushima.
I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling troubled by the supine media here -- who are insanely obsessed with the pending vote by the chronically corrupt International Olympic Committee. Japanese newspapers and TV are clearly dancing to the tune of those who badly want Tokyo to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
In contrast, there is little public debate about the worst atomic horror in Japan since Nagasaki.
There is at least one dissenting voice, which recently grew very popular via Twitter in Japan. Minako Saito wrote in her Tokyo Shimbun column: "You don't invite people to your home if the toilet is broken. (Olympics, Fukushima)."
Clearly, Saito's raw sentiment struck a chord with many here. But it's had little impact on Japan's legion of Olympics boosters.
To the contrary, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after unveiling on Tuesday (Sept. 3) Japan's plan to spend $500 million to stabilize the nuclear plant, told reporters:
We are aware of concerns over the issue of contaminated water leakages at Fukushima… The government will take charge and will definitely resolve this problem. We are determined to take drastic measures of a maximum scale so that there are no problems by the 2020 Olympics.
But hang on.
How could Japan even claim that Tokyo is "completely unaffected" by the problem of radiation-contaminated water at Fukushima No. 1, at a time when groundwater continues to gush through the plant's contaminated soil and flow into the Pacific Ocean fishery?
Where's Abe's proof?