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March 16, 2011

Secret Word from the White House: The Japanese Government Isn't Being Straight With Its Citizens

This is not a bash-Obama post. If a friendly allied country is engaging in spin, it's a difficult position for the US. It's diplomatically dicey to just call them on that publicly.

So they're putting out the word in sneaky sorts of ways.

The British government is also advising its citizens living in 100-miles-away-Tokyo that they might consider leaving.

I don't know if this is a panicky CYA from our government and the British government, or if the Japanese are right in believing that there is not a serious threat to anyone outside the immediate area around the plant.

But, on that point: I just saw Freakonomics, the documentary about the book. The most interesting thing about it wasn't even in the book -- it was about the Japanese police's response to murder.

In Japan, I was shocked to hear that police routinely cover-up murders. They call obvious murders other things, like the minor crime of "body abandonment," and not even because they're being bribed.

It's because the Japanese culture demands perfection, and to advance in the police as a detective you need a 96% solve rate for crimes, including murder.

Well, that's not possible. So what police often do is do some initial investigation. If there is a likely suspect and the case looks solvable, they roll the dice and call it a murder, and work at solving it.

But if no ready suspect is at hand, they will fight to call it death by natural circumstances or the like. Something that can be easily closed and pad that solve rate.

As I've heard some of the optimistic takes on all this, I keep thinking about that insight into the culture.

Below, some more stuff about the crisis from the cobloggers.

At Gizmodo, an easy-to-follow video explaining what's happened at the reactor.

If you want a bit more detailed written brief, this one is good.

Slublog's post last night on the bravery of the men remaining at the dangerously-radioactive plant is worth reading, if you missed it.

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posted by Ace at 03:26 PM

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