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Imagine a split Japan

December 23, 2011

Try to imagine Japan without a midsection (shaded).


By David Ritchie

It’s late at night, but sleep probably is far away, because I’ve just finished visiting the Energy News website at and reading a discussion of recent videos from Fukushima. Something there appears to be on fire.

 What look like yellow, green and orange flames can be seen in nighttime webcam views. If one analyst is correct, then the spent fuel pool at Reactor 3 has fallen all the way out of the building and onto the ground, leaving a big gash in the wall and (presumably) spilling the pool’s contents onto the ground.

 If spent fuel is burning in the open air at Fukushima and sending up clouds of radioactive smoke, then the crisis must have entered a whole new phase — perhaps orders of magnitude worse than before.

Being no video analyst, and certainly no expert on nuclear technology, I hesitate to say more on that topic. You can check the discussion thread, with pertinent videos, at:

 Pay particular attention to James2’s post on 19 December at 12:01 am.

 After checking that discussion group, I wonder: if things get steadily worse at Fukushima, then how long will Japan remain viable as a nation?

 Consider this scenario. Radioactivity in central Japan leaves that portion of the country uninhabitable and thus splits the country in two. The only habitable places left would be in the far north and far south, with a hot wasteland inbetween.

 What then? Could Japan survive as two isolated ends, so to speak, without a midsection? Though made largely in ignorance, my guess is no.

 And what would the rest of the world do without Japan as we know it?

 Maybe those are the wrong verb tenses. The question might just as well be this:

 What will the rest of the world do without Japan as we used to know it?

 Anyway, it’s time to try getting to sleep. Tomorrow is a workday in Seoul, whatever may be happening just across the East Sea. For now, life goes on despite radionuclides  in sea and air.

 ©2011 David Ritchie

David Ritchie lives and works in Seoul, Korea. He welcomes correspondence and asks only that it be civil. Email: kwriter (at)




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