For quite a while now TV Asahi has started with a new kind of program that seems quite popular: Manaberu News Show. The best way to imagine the program is to have a class room set up in your mind. Some Japanese TV “talents” or some local celebrity, then depending on the topic changing teachers have the task to explain background information about recent news. The topics can be solely Japan based, or then explanations on what is going on around the world. Not only TV Asahi has this kind of program, as well other channels have their own “learning programs”.
While it was at first interesting to see what kind of topics are discussed, after a while I could not watch it anymore without getting concerned. How come that so basic information about history or science needs to be explained? From personal perspective the topics seemed to me just simply repeating high school teaching material. I was honestly wondering how low intelligence might have gotten in Japan.
Let me tell you my mind has completely changed. By chance I came across the learning news program, when the topic about “why radioactive hot spots exist throughout Japan” and “how was the radioactivity spread around the world after 3/11”. At first I felt into the same pattern as before, wondering why obvious information has to be spread times over and over again. All the info seemed so old and why bring it up now after a couple of months have passed since the news was available. Then finally it hit me, not everyone in Japan has access to global information, but solely filtered by the media or truly gets lost as translation is needed. Further not everyone in Japan is used to get their news from several news sources from different countries, plus additionally has not easy access to first hand info. At the end, most important, chances are that Japan is actually learning from the Chernobyl. Reading the latest WHO report about what could be learned from the incident, the main topics were: Still now in the affected areas around Chernobyl confusion exists about what data can be trusted (same here in Japan), what can be done to avoid the effects of radioactivity (same here in Japan), what food should be avoided (same here in Japan) and understanding the critical age of children is up to 18 years old (same here in Japan).
I have changed my mind-set. Instead of being concerned about the topics discussed on TV, I hope that at least with constant education about concerns related to radioactivity or simple information sharing in the long run will have some effects and we will have to deal with a lesser extend of the same long problems as in Chernobyl in Japan.
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)
P.S. Note that I am simply comparing now the potential positive effects on information sharing in Japan compared to Chernobyl. In regard to the actual incident, although only time will tell the actual outcome, personally I see no difference in the aftereffects; solely a huge difference on how the affected public reacts. I do remember Chernobyl happening as 17 year old in Switzerland and all the lessons learned then.