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U.S. fears meltdown imminent, Emperor addresses nation

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) spokesman Hajime Motojuku claimed the “condition is stable” at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 reactor. Another TEPCO spokesman, Naoki Tsunoda, said they are close to completing a new power line that could end the crisis. This seems at odds with the surge in radiation levels, unexplained white smoke and spent fuel rods that might be on the verge of spewing more radioactive material.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said, “My understanding is there is no water in the spent fuel pool. I hope my information is wrong. It’s a terrible tragedy for Japan.”

While the Japanese government has told the public to steer clear of the 30-kilometer (20-mile) radius around the plant, the U.S. embassy advised citizens keep at least 50 miles from the plant. The British embassy recommended that British nationals evacuate Tokyo and affected areas to the north, not because of safety issues, but out of concerns about supply disruptions.

Like I mentioned on Tuesday, given the lack of transparency in Japan’s nuclear sector and Japan’s bureaucratic tradition of holding back information, we are unlikely to get an accurate picture of the situation from official statements. Japanese officials have been slow and vague in giving updates, and seem to begrudge sharing what little information they do give.

The Imperial Household Agency, on the other hand, released a video Wednesday of Emperor Akihito giving a rare address to the nation. While the emperor is no longer considered to be a god (few Japanese honestly believed the emperor was ever a god anyway), the emperor is still revered by the Japanese. He is referred to simply as “tennō-heika,” His Imperial Majesty, in the media, and few Japanese know his actual name. Upon the ascension of the next emperor, Akihito will be known to the Japanese as “Heisei Tennō,” the emperor of the Heisei period.

U.S. fears meltdown imminent, Emperor addresses nation

Emperor Akihito addresses the nation Wednesday.

In the five-minute video, the emperor said, “I am deeply concerned about the nuclear situation because it is unpredictable. With the help of those involved, I hope things will not get worse.”

The emperor spoke in clear, but mannered, Japanese. When his father, Hirohito, announced Japan’s surrender over the radio in 1945, few of the people, who were hearing their emperor’s voice for the first time, could understand his archaic, courtly Japanese.

“I am deeply hurt by the grievous situation in the disaster-hit areas,” the emperor said. “I sincerely hope that people will overcome this unfortunate time by engendering a sense of caring for other people.”

“I was greatly moved by the braveness of the survivors who are encouraging themselves in trying to live on through this enormous disaster,” he said.

“I hope that those affected by the earthquake will not give up hope and strive to survive, while taking care of their health,” he said.

Meanwhile, 116 nations and regions are offering help to Japan as the number of dead or missing following Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami has climbed to 12,920.



Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

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E-mail him: [email protected]