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Boots on the ground in Fukushima, Japan

November 1, 2011
Fukushima, Japan

I had to come see for myself. What does the worst radiation and natural disaster in history look like? Chaos. Devastation. Cataclysm. Right?

Actually… none of the above. Fukushima and the surrounding prefecture is as quaint and picturesque as ever. Eight months on, there are hardly any signs of a nuclear accident or major earthquake, at least on the surface.

IMG 0325b Boots on the ground in Fukushima, Japan

Smiling bunny rabbit welcomes tourists to nuclear disaster.

I was half-expecting the town to have a permanent decontamination facility… with radiation detectors as far as the eye can see, and legions of workers in biohazard suits. After all, this town of nearly 300,000 is now the world’s largest dirty bomb.

But riding through the surrounding area and walking around the streets today, Fukushima looks like any other small(ish) town. Schools, temples, shops, and restaurants… everything is normal. In fact, it’s almost eerily normal, like something out of an old Hitchcock film.

IMG 0344b Boots on the ground in Fukushima, Japan

Keep looking until you can see the gamma rays...

People here have moved on and even learned to joke about the incident with an untraditional sarcasm. At dinner this evening, my friend asked the waiter “How’s the eggplant?” to which the waiter replied with a dry smile, “Oh don’t worry, we source that from another location now…”

The really bizarre thing is that the radiation levels are still really high… yet everyone is staying put. Tepco, the group that operates the failed nuclear reactors nearby, has been publishing all sorts of propaganda saying that radiation levels are falling. Nobody believes it.

A group of politicians staged a recent media stunt, drinking water that was supposedly filled from a puddle outside Fukushima’s reactors, and dining on local produce.  Nobody seems to care.

IMG 0367b Boots on the ground in Fukushima, Japan

"Good for drinking" says my hotel bathroom sink.

The government is telling them not to worry while private studies suggest otherwise. A recent paper published by Norwegian atmospheric scientist Adreas Stohl refutes a number of claims made by the Japanese government, and it more than doubles the government’s estimate of how much radiation was released in the accident.

And yet, nearly everyone is still here. After the initial evacuation, people just came back to town and picked up where they left off. They know the government is lying to them. They know they’re in danger and that their lives and livelihoods are at risk. But they’re staying put.

Some of this is due to a lack of preparation. Most people didn’t plan for this emergency and didn’t have an action plan or bolt hole somewhere. For others, it’s just the expected thing to do– stay and suffer.

It seems crazy, but this is a familiar story.

Think about how many people are lied to on a regular basis by their politicians. They know they’re being lied to. They know their livelihood is under attack. They know the trend is bad, and it’s getting worse. But they do nothing and plan nothing, warning signs be damned.

Oh, how politicians love it when citizens are good little sheep, patiently waiting to be milked and sheared.

Look, each of us has a choice to make. Like the folks here in Fukushima, most people will simply put up with constant abuse indefinitely. Others will grab a pitchfork and join the lost souls’ convention on Wall Street. Most will pin their hopes on the next election.

Fukushima teaches us that voting with your feet is sometimes the only sensible option. After all, there are a lot of green pastures out there in the world.

It may not be a popular decision. Throughout history, societies frequently derided anyone with the foresight and fortitude to leave.

And so what? Let them complain. Our obligations are to ourselves, our families, and whomever else we choose to let into our circles. There is no natural debt to society or political servitude simply by accident of birth.

It’s time to start rejecting antiquated social expectations and think in new directions. With so much uncertainty, it makes a world of sense to have a backup plan overseas.

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Geoffrey Carlson

    Simon, I agree that setting up a backup plan overseas is a wise decision. However, I do think there is a huge slanted bias on this site. You are very quick to point out the the problems we’re facing here in the US of A, but you overlook and ignore the faults in these so called “greener pastures overseas”. Every single country that you champion ALSO has significant problems. Shall I give some examples? The rioting in Chile really drawfs whats happening with occupy wallstreet. The country, needless to say the region, has long history of political instability and marxist sentiment and goes back and forth reguarly. Next poster child, Singapore has some the most outrageously draconian social laws on the planet. 400 people have been executed there in the last 10 years for “drug trafficking”. Mongolia, one of the most corrupt places on the planet….Shall I go on? The point being I don’t think its fair you mock people who stay in the US, calling them “sheep”. We aren’t nomadic tribes anymore, most people have an attachment to the land of their birth. The fact that you don’t is your perogative…But I tip my hat to the people who have decided to stay and take a stance…They have clinged to an idea, a most beautiful notion: that freedom will prevail. I don’t think they’re wrong. The federal government is not some alien entity that can’t be fought. It consists of people that can be removed from office. It won’t be an easy fight, but it can be done. Yea, you can run across the globe giving yourself the illusion of freedom but at the end of the day, my friend, big brother will find you.

    • Brian

      The elections in the US are quite clearly rigged, you can’t “remove” any one from office unless their corporate puppetmasters want it that way.  But go ahead and keep dreaming if it makes you feel better. 

      • Geoffrey Carlson

        And they’re not rigged in Chile or Singapore? You can’t run away from a problem, Brian. The problems the U.S are facing are problems inherent with government, it doesn’t cease to be an issue on the other side of the border. I feel like the people on this site are motivated by a most naive form of escapism…. 

  • Drew

    I generally find myself in agreement with the things that you post here.

    Not this however, “lost souls’ convention on Wall Street.”

    I really don’t understand the rationale behind such a remark, the people in New York, and now around the world deserve nothing but respect.

    The message is simple, governement professing to be for, of, and by the people, should not sell itself to the highest bidder.

    I seem to recall in the past reading you deriding people who seek to change the system.
    But, things are constantly changing, someone’s got to do it, and there’s no denying the spark in the air and the momentum that is

    Sure, more people happy with the societal organization in which they live means less customers for you, but to speak bad of those

    trying to better their circumstances and those of the community around them seems pretty shortsighted.

    The thing about the occupy movement is that no matter your political persuasions there is no reason for you not to support the

    central message as long as you hear it before it is distorted by those with an interest in maintaining the status quo.  And you are not someone who is benefiting from the status quo in way you would not after the sought changes are made.

    You speak regularly of the virtues of creating value.  How does bribing of the government by various industries(primarily the financial,) then governments’ tilting of the tables in their direction create value?  It doesn’t, and further it distorts the playing field for those who would like to make a profit the old-fashioned way of making something people want as opposed to manipulating the system in your favor or outright fraud like selling securities for billions of dollars that you know to be worthless, telling the customer otherwise, and then shorting the worthless securities you just sold.

    Well, that got a little long-winded.  The point is, the complaints of the people in the street are valid and we need to make changes to rectify the situation and this is the consensus of a large majority of we humans.

    Maybe you just have yet to realize your agreement.  For example, a common gripe of your’s and many others is the “security state”.  A large driver of the “security state” is crony profiteering, see Chertof.

    btw, might want to eat some seaweed if iodine really is a good counter for radiation exposure, wakame is good.

    • Caferev

      Sorry, Drew, you’ve totally missed the boat. The message on Wall Street is anti-government anything. It’s anti-capitalism. If it were anti-DC, it would be taking place in DC. And don’t even equate these Wall Street misanthropes with those fighting for their lives in Egypt and Libya. Please.

  • johnG

    Thank you for this! it is impossible to speak to a Japanese person here in Tokyo without them downplaying the nature of the risks at Fukushima, it drives me mad!

  • David

    Is this all of the pictures you have? Cmon man you can do better than 2 pics.

  • Chriswakeford

    The wage cage keeps the bureaucrats riding high.
    If the bureaucrat DID not have wage cage dependency he/she would be finished in the ponzi system the wage cage has created.

    Its time for a global evolution and wake up for a new system as this system is exposed as a fraud.In the meantime lets expose the bureaucrats and their fraud virus which they are dependent upon.

  • The Political Commentator

    Great article Simon! it is unbelievable how this tragedy is nowhere near the front pages and is the classic out of sight out of mind.

    I had written yesterday about the publicity stunt of drinking water, but more along the lines of the Obama administration learning a thing or two about pandering from the Japanese (

    Keep up the great work.

    The Political Commentator

  • Beau Bergquist

    The Japanese people are not happy.

    Everyone knows a significant portion of Japanese soil is not suitable for habitation. Just last month a leaked Tepco documented indicated the total amount of plutonium and neptunium emitted from the plant. This stuff sticks around for millions of years…

    If you haven’t seen the dispersion maps for plutonium they are published here (you can click cancel at the login):

  • Baldy Brat

    Great article – Would love to see you publish this article on to share with the community there… Excellent!

  • 2va Sera

    Most of those folks near Fukushima worked at the nuclear plant. They’ve been educated in the physical sciences, health sciences and nuclear physicists in particular. So, you call them “sheep.” Your theme seems to be exploitation coupled with frustration that the area has actually improved significantly.
    Seems like you’d rather see arms floating in green slim.
    Don’t fret. There’s no doubt another catastrophic weather event you can utilize to prove your conclusions and harness the donations to “green” business lobbyists.

    • jimster

      Nuclear energy is GREEN energy. What’s your point?

  • Rick_Kettell

    I highly doubt Americans would respond in a similar matter. It would be comical and very dangerous at the same time.

    • Leonore Alaniz

      you gotta be kiddin… check out three mile island,, and the cancer rates still climbing from folks wh moved away, alas a after the fact of fall-out. It took just a few week/month.

      • Rick_Kettell

        Mam, I was referring to the reaction of the general populace in America if there were a Level 7 accident in comparison to the orderly conduct of the Japanese people.
        I’m fully aware of “our” governments willingness to lie, cheat and steal from the people at any given oppurtunity.

        Rick Kettell

  • Comdyne

    Someone is smoking something. This article makes no sense.

  • Leonore Alaniz

    The answer whether to stay put or to stretch ones planetary (versus international)) citizenship “rest” within ones heart. Some have boots onthe ground (in rice paddies perhaps) others jet-set and report on the ether-real, sur-real delusional qualities of materila survival… wearing boots, but how much grounded are they, OR their Being state?

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