Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ghost Towns

So, industry minister Hachiro Yoshio called the communities around Fukushima a "ghost town" (死の街) yesterday. Now he apologizes for doing so.

I can't imagine why. They are ghost towns, in every sense of the term1. The area is abandoned and will remain abandoned; nobody lives there, and nobody will live there for years to come. Some of those communities will be abandoned permanently. "Ghost town" seems quite apt, especially for the communities closest to the plant. Pretending that they are not, that the inhabitants will be able to return shortly and pick up their lives as before is just dishonest.

If authorities can't even describe a bad situation correctly for fear of upsetting somebody, then the chances of rectifying it is pretty close to nil. If you can't talk about problems in frank and accurate terms you can't talk about solutions either.

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#1 Well, except for actual, live (err, dead) ghosts. But in every other sense they are.

7 comments:

Shuji said...

Great. I completely agree with you.

Our Man in Abiko said...

"The moment you become someone others are afraid to communicate bad news to, you are lost."

Alain de Botton

By this definition, the Japan that is allowed to be addressed in public has been lost for sometime.

Janne Morén said...

Ourmani, I agree completely.

seki said...

Hachiro Yoshio resigned. I can't believe it... why does he have to resign?

sigma1 said...

I don't disagree with any of the overall perspectives on how silly this is, 死のまち isn't exactly "ghost town" in terms of nuance. First, Japan already has "ゴーストタウン" which would have been much more appropriate (although probably still silliness would have ensued). I guess 死のまち implies a nuance closer to "if you go there you are likely to die" ie the towns are terminally afflicted by a pervasive, perhaps mysterious aura of death. A town you could probably set a horror movie if that way inclined.

Janne Morén said...

Yes, I used the Mainichi translation here; I didn't think it was 100% either but figured that if a paper uses it it's not too bad.

And in a way, 死の街 is more apt than ghost town. "Ghost town" after all merely implies an abandoned community — Gunkajima is a ghost town simply from running out of coal, to take a famous example — while 死の街 captures the damage and the real, serious and continuing health risks that occasioned the abandonment in the first place.

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