Tokyo Notes

No Nuclear Panic in Tokyo

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Fukushima reactors and questions over radiation, Tokyo is calm and quiet.

A Tokyo-based businessman gives his account this morning of the situation in the city after returning there from Osaka.

There were very few people on the train into Tokyo. I'm not familiar with usual passenger numbers on the Osaka-Tokyo leg, but I presume that it’s more than one person per carriage.

However, I didn't notice any crowds trying to leave. People seem very calm here. Perhaps more face masks than usual, but this also is the height of hay fever season. I didn’t notice any other foreigners at all. I poked my head into a couple of shops and they seem well stocked, although I didn't check for water and other basics like that.

Central Tokyo is quiet, more like a Sunday than a Thursday. But there are multiple reasons why people might be keeping staff at home, including the erratic blackouts and the risk of an aftershock.

If there is tension I didn't notice it. I saw no evidence of panic.

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Clearly though, the situation in Fukushima remains serious, although as things stand now, I haven’t found a convincing scientific explanation as to how radioactive particles can make it all the way to Tokyo in dangerous levels. The problem remains the wildly fluctuating situation, the lack of official information and the great variation in speculation.

I note that there’s talk that power could be restored to the Fukushima power plant this afternoon, which has the potential to significantly alter the situation.