The Modern Tokyo Times

International news and neglected issues

Tokyo: radiation scare seems distant and Mighty Harajuku Project

Tokyo: radiation scare seems distant and Mighty Harajuku Project 

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Ladies in Ikebukuro shopping -  Modern Tokyo Times image
Ladies in Ikebukuro shopping – Modern Tokyo Times image

The devastating earthquake which unleashed the potent tsunami is still an ongoing nightmare for hundreds of thousands of residents who reside in shelters in northeast Japan.  Added to this, is the ongoing pain and suffering because whole communities have been destroyed and the loss of life was huge. 

At the same time, the nuclear dimension remains a major problem for people in Fukushima and areas which are close to this prefecture.  Therefore, the exclusion zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and areas within range are still ghost towns and the future looks bleak.

The initial shock of the earthquake and tsunami could be felt clearly in Tokyo and many people were in a daze and confused.  After all, the powerful tremors on March 11 in Tokyo were severe and the capital city was hit by power failures and other structural problems.

Television images of the tsunami in northeastern Japan were shocking and while the tsunami was not a threat to Tokyo the psychological impact was enormous.  Also, many Tokyo residents will have strong family connections with this part of Japan because many Japanese individuals move to Tokyo from all over Japan.

Then after several days it became apparent that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was in a serious crisis.  This unleashed the best and worse about journalism because some reports were realistic however others were scaremongering and this all added to the confusion.

Tens of thousands of foreign nationals began to flee Tokyo and other areas of Japan and many Japanese individuals also felt uneasy.  However, for the vast majority of people in Tokyo they were staying and while the atmosphere felt eerie at times during the initial period; the overwhelming majority of people just knuckled down and focused on daily problems.

Many embassies were closed and some companies sent their international staff to other areas of Japan or sent them home.  This led to further strains on the economy because many media outlets were blowing up the crisis in Tokyo. However, in truth, most Tokyoites were counting their blessings because it was clear that the real crisis belonged to northeastern Japan.

The radiation scare did cause alarm bells for some people in the first few weeks and parents of babies and young children seemed particularly worried.  Therefore, you had a brief spell when bottled water was in vogue because of radiation fears but this fear is now in decline for the majority of Tokyoites.

The crisis in Tokyo witnessed greater community bonds and individuals responded in kind.  For example Sebastian Masuda, the founder of 6%Dokidoki, used the potency of his fashion company and began the “Mighty Harajuku Project.”

In my article called Mighty Harajuku Project: fashion sector responds to the devastating earthquake, I comment that “Sebastian Masuda was shocked by the events which engulfed the north-eastern-Tohoku region on March 11 and which continue to beset the region.  This applies to the huge loss of life, the ongoing homeless problem, whole communities being destroyed, thousands of bodies being washed up along the coast, and the ongoing nuclear cloud hanging over Fukushima and creating a major radiation problem.”

“In Harajuku the creativity of this place which Sebastian Masuda genuinely cares about also uniquely provides its own distinctive community.  Irrespective if this applies to locals, people who often visit Harajuku because of the buzz it creates or to workers who commute to Harajuku.”

“Therefore, Sebastian Masuda focused on all the positives and energy of Harajuku and came up with the “Mighty Harajuku Project.”  The purpose of this project is to help the disadvantaged who have suffered so much since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11; and to give encouragement and support to people who utilize the energy and environment of Harajuku because so many people are still bewildered by recent events.”

The “Mighty Harajuku Project” was bigger than it could be imagined because it united youths and young adults who are fashion conscious in trendy Harajuku and built bridges with people from other communities.  Also, the “Mighty Harajuku Project” was telling the world that Tokyo may be in shock however the “heart was still ticking” and this applies to the spirit of Harajuku and other areas of Tokyo.

It now appears that Tokyo is returning to normal albeit with minor problems from time to time; for example train related problems or stores closing a tad early.

However, these minor problems do not compare with the real problem areas and it will take a long time for parts of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima to recover and other areas which were hit by the earthquake and tsunami.

Also, the nightmare for people close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will continue and many sectors like the fisheries will face an uphill struggle to survive.

Now Tokyo must play its role in putting Japan back on its feet because while you have many powerful cities like Osaka and Nagoya; it is apparent that Tokyo is the engine of Japan and international companies and tourists flock to this city for different factors.

The Kansai region is potent and powerful but in the eyes of the international community the image of Tokyo is strong.

Therefore, it should be known that by the middle of April the vibrancy of Tokyo is gradually building up and many embassies have returned.  It is hoped that this will be followed by an economic upturn in the following few months because enormous strains are being put on the economy.

The spirit of the “Mighty Harajuku Project” was based on compassion, hope, and a sense that the future will be reshaped by new creativity. 

It is hoped that politicians in Japan will overcome their petty bickering and back stabbing and that the international community will flock back to Tokyo and Japan.     (personal blog)   (Please visit this fashion website)  – Please visit this website about the Mighty Harajuku Project.  (Harajuku fashion) 

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