Report From Tokyo 3 – Manipulation of Information

March 29, 2011 Juju Kurihara 2 Comments

This is the third report from a Tokyo resident

Since I escaped from Tokyo, the people of Fukushima Daiichi have been working on it so hard to solve the problem and although the situation is still serious, the rectors seem to be under control.


Yet, I'm seeking all the information about the nuclear plant in the net and making reference for my next move.

I would imagine that after the quake, many Japanese people are rely on the net to get information.

Comparing to the time when Hanshin earthquake or Niigata earthquake happened, the importance of the internet has expanded deeply in our daily life.


chain mailCommunication network and social network such as SNS have also spread all over the world.

Maybe many of us don't believe what the government and the authorities say to us.


Or maybe we prefer to get over this situation with other people rather than doing it alone.

The information is a weapon.

For example when the earthquake happened on the 11th of March, there were many short messages and tweeting like

“The cupboard fell over and I'm stuck, anyone in my neighbourhood, please help me” or

“To the people who cannot go home because of the suspension of the train, we open our office and the bathroom to anyone who needs to stay”.


Moreover, people who had radiation monitors cooperated and started reporting the level of the radioactivity voluntarily on Ustream.

The internet links goodwill to goodwill and there are people who are saved by that for sure.

However, at the same time, the information can direct people to the wrong direction mercilessly.

The good example for this is the radiation problem of Fukushima Daiichi which has thrown people into this endless fear.


For instance:

gargleTo get rid of the iodine remained inside the body because of being exposed to the radioactivity, drink gargle”

Then gargle disappeared from the pharmacy.

no gargle




“It's good to eat a lot of sea weeds to get rid of the iodine”

There were no packages of sea weeds and kelp from the supermarkets.

wakameno wakame










Moreover, there were chain mails going around saying,

“A fire broke out in the fuel storage of an oil company in China. Don't go outside when it rains because the rain is contaminated”

cosmosekiyuenjyouchain mail 2







The sad thing is these rumors must have started with the best of intentions at the beginning.

But in the reality, the information is also a threatening.


On top of this, the media kept broadcasting the things which provoked our fear by repeating “this is the XXX times more radiation amount than usual” rather than insisting the safety.


newscasterPerhaps the newscasters themselves were getting numb with this horror. One day, during a report from the devastated area, one of the casters without realising she had a microphone said “That's funny.”


Another newscaster, while they were showing the TV conference of the prime minister made comments like…


“C'mon, nuclear plant again?”

“Hahahaha, it just makes me laugh”


In the last few days, finally the medias started announcing the safety of the situation.

But I think it's not so easy to recover things once you loose them. Such as the people or houses they have lost by the earthquake, or the trust the nuclear plant and TEPCO have lost through these weeks.

Phishing sites asking the donation is one of the phenomenon under such circumstances and there were many in Japan after the quake.

Then so many guessing and rumors have started flying around.

(to be continued)


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