Tohoku Earthquake, Kobe and Aum Shinrikyo

This photo shows damage from the 1995 earthquake at Kobe

Japan has had too many disasters, too devastating, too close together.

The Japanese have developed extraordinary techniques of emergency preparation and response, but the emotional response is more difficult to assess and to deal with. Everyone lives with it, everywhere, everyday.

My son was a PhD candidate studying at the University of Tokyo in 1995 during the Kobe disaster and the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway system. He described the emotional effect on everyone who had to maintain their daily routines, afraid of earthquake or poison gas attacks, but unable to escape the risks.

Here is another article on nuclear fear from yesterday’s New York Times. It tells us, among other things:

Add onto this the dislocation from forced evacuation, and you have a recipe for social isolation, anxiety, depression, psychosomatic medical problems, reckless behavior, even suicide…

It is only nuclear radiation that bears a huge psychological burden — for it carries a unique historical legacy

I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like!

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