What Joe Biden Will Find in Japan

By Steve Clemons
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The White House announced yesterday that Vice President Joe Biden will travel to China, Mongolia and Japan starting the 16th of August.

What he will find in Japan is a nation completely, entirely disgusted by its government. 

I've just arrived in Tokyo and have hear earfuls on:

. . .the 872 radioactive cows (from Fukushima Prefecture) -- fed contaminated rice straw that government bureaucrats allowed to escape destruction --  that have been slaughtered for market and sent to prefectures all over Japan.

. . .a hapless Prime Minister who took three months to appoint a minister to manage reconstruction after the tsunami and earthquake only to see him resign right away for remarkably insensitive comments about what he expected in the content of rebuilding proposals

. . .an email scandal in which employees of the Kyushi Electric Power Company were asked by a prefectural governor to send in pro-nuclear power comments in a public forum hosted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry -- thus stacking the deck significantly in favor of nuclear power generation by many with a direct stake.  The emails have now been publicly exposed.

. . .a well-respected Japanese nuclear energy expert and professor -- who after being goaded by Japanese Diet Members suggesting that things in Fukushima may not be all that bad -- exploded back at them loudly yelling at them in a riveting oratory that the politicians were unbelievably negligent if they didn't take the nuclear disaster in Fukushima far more seriously

. . .restaurants throughout Tokyo with posters calling for the residents of the greater area around Fukushima who are still too near the hot site to be evacuated further

Fukushima may eventually be contained, though in the last few days, those managing the site have found many previously unnoticed pipes that have severely high levels of radiation that are exposed outside the plant. But bottom line is that a huge container facility will eventually be built around the entire site.

Eventually, the victims of Fukushima who have lost their homes will either be relocated and compensated in some way -- or allowed back.

But what has really collapsed in Japan is any sense of trust by citizens in their central government. Perhaps it has been that way in years past, but the cynicism about everyone in government today is higher than I've ever seen in Japan.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/08/what-joe-biden-will-find-in-japan/243145/