Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tokyo residents show their true grit amid nuclear chaos - 20th Mar 2011

For a ghost town supposedly on the brink of imploding, Tokyo was rocking last night. I had expected the worst after endless stories claiming the Japanese capital had been devastated by blackouts and chronic food shortages.

Panicked residents were supposed to be fleeing in a mass exodus caused by the threat of nuclear fallout from the Fukushima power plant 140 miles to the north.

But in the 48 hours since I arrived here in the early hours of Friday, I have seen, first-hand, that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the streets of the world’s third-largest city are teeming.

The overwhelming reaction from the scores of Japanese people I have met, many of whom shook my hand and thanked me for not abandoning their city, is one of stoic calm.

There is determination that life must go on as normal in the wake of the chaos wrought by the triple punch of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear-plant disaster.

My interpreter, Hikaru Sakurai, 46, a bookish married father of a 14-year-old boy, summed it up when he smiled and said: ‘To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumours of the death of this city have been greatly exaggerated.’ Read More