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This website is an introduction to Japanese Ecocriticism created by students in my EASN 305 class, “Nature and the Environment in Japanese Literature and Film.”

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  1. ivimeyc says:

    Of the collections to be found in the digital archive, I chose to look at the one pertaining to the persistent issue of asbestos in the disaster areas. The collection itself is primarily based in Japanese, and there are many links that no longer seem to be valid/functional, however what is present gives a very good insight into the dangers and hidden disaster contained within the scope of the 3.11 disaster proper’s damage.

    One of the early articles placed in the collection came from November 2011 in the form of a Japan Times artcile, only six months following the initial disaster, and it stressed the warning of asbestos finds amidst the rubble. It showed a general sense of chaos, as it described Japanese officials scrambled to keep the Fukushima reactor in check, and families were digging through the wreckage of their once-sturdy homes, sifting through debris for the sake of finding mementos and family keepsakes. The sense of absolutely danger and future health concerns was very poignant given the then-held belief that the worst had been over, so long as nuclear fallout was avoided. To think that the once-protective homes were now centers of hazard is bound to have been yet another shock to the families that once inhabited them.

    Another article that came to the fore (yet again in English) was from the Associated Press of Asahi Shinbun, one of the major newspaper companies within Japan. It was published on March 11, 2013, exactly two years after the disaster, and it highlighted the slow-going process of clean-up and repair due to the persistence of radioactive waste, lead, PCB, and – as expected – asbestos. The necessity of separating out the damaging agents from the rubble so that new homes might be cleared requires money, and the availability of safe handling instructions – found to be in English, thanks to yet another link from the collection – shows that the desire to educate on the part of the government is there, however there are still non-government officials and employees going through this wreckage. For some, it is still a matter of trying to reclaim some aspect of their old lives, but for others – such as gangsters – there are more nefarious aims to be had, in the form of swindling those desiring reconstruction out of their money.

    Overall, the collection highlighted many of the ongoing struggles of the Japanese reconstructions and victims, and the emotional turmoil of having gone through such a continued struggle became clear when yet another dimension of damage became apparent. I had never thought that the building practices of the Japanese would come to the fore in the face of this disaster, but it would seem that – as this collection shows – poor decisions will continue to haunt the already-kicked-down victims for some time to come.

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