To Survive in Tokyo

Original Text HERE by Ilcommonz

Read my story as a personal account of a musician living in Tokyo. I’ve just canceled a two-week tour in Europe that was supposed to start from the 16th of March. I’m not certain what other tour members would choose to do, but we, the touring members, discussed that each of us ought to make up our own decisions, and respect them whatever they are.

Since the day of the quake, until today, I have struggled to make decision as to whether or not to go. No matter how hard I questioned to myself, my answer was: “I don’t want to leave Japan now.” I have a few reasons to bring up, but none of them sounds rational. These are all very personal sentiments. However, one thing that I can assure is this sense that I have to see with my own eyes and experience not only the current situation but also what would happen from now on in the city I live in. This might sound exaggerating, but I would like to live the same destiny with everybody else. I have never felt like this before; I am surprised to have this sentiment myself. What I mean by ‘everybody’ is, to my understanding, not a collective of Japanese people whose faces are invisible, but the people that I love, … and the places I love, … things that are very indistinct. Of course I have never made a mutual agreement to live in solidarity with those whom I love; rather, this is my very personal, selfish and unusual sentiment. Facing this, I strongly felt that I would not want to leave Japan even for mere 2 weeks.
Right now the press conference of the Tokyo Electric Company continues on TV. The nuclear plant is being unveiled as confronting a much more serious situation than all of us have expected. I can only wonder what really is happening. Never did I imagine radiation could happen to my own everyday life; it was thought to be always someone else’s.
During the last three days, I’ve received innumerable messages from my music friends all over the world. Every message expresses deep concerns about Japan. Some of the friends even offered me a place for shelter, for which I am very grateful. Perhaps it is not us in Tokyo who really need help at the moment, but it is those who cannot even read this. I hope the situation gets better even a little.

(“Hope the situation gets better even a little” by Yoshihide Otomo, March 15th 2011)

I am not going to run away from Tokyo. Because all the electricity produced in the Fukushima Nuclear plants were consumed in Tokyo, not provided for the people there. We have polluted Fukushima for the sake of Tokyo…. (A Twitter post by travellinmagro myu, March 15th 2011)

The nuclear plants run amok in Fukushima. Right at this moment I felt a big shake in my house again. The epicenter was Shizuoka, but even Tokyo hit magnitude 4. The radio warned us to “be cautious of after shocks, because old wooden and non-earthquake-resistant houses are in danger of collapse.” Amidst of this, I was thinking of the same thing. I was thinking of what to do from now on within my house in danger of collapse. When it stopped shaking, I found an answer. Whenever I face a necessity to think and react to sudden incidents, I always begin wondering to myself what I am, rather than my individuality. I am not a musician, not a poet, but an anthropologist, contemporary artist, and activist. As a contemporary artist, I very much empathize the musician refusing to leave Japan. As an activist, I identify with a poet who is not going to run away from Tokyo. And as an anthropologist who shares a similar mind or the same feeling, I would like to stay in the place where these people live until the end comes, and together I would like to see things through. Therefore, after having shaken by the quake, the answer that came out was this: I would remain in Tokyo till the end. Although this decision has a strong political aspect, that is not rational at all. I hate nuclear power. Not only do I hate it, but I am against it. Strongly against it. Absolutely against it. I believe that not only the Tokyo Electric Company but also the pro-nuclear power policy of the Japanese government are wrong. That the people living elsewhere suffer for the benefit of Tokyo is wrong. And I am living thanks to the electricity produced by the nuclear power plants. I am using the light in my room as I type this right now, relying on the same power. This is a contradiction, the most evident contradiction. I intend to accept this contradiction as it is, since I know something might come out from being smeared in a big contradiction. And for now, I wish to punish myself by this acceptance. Furthermore I would like to connect myself to something by being smeared by radiation, by sharing it as the common that is of the most ominous kind.
With my body and mind smeared with the contradiction and radiation, I would like to protest against the nuclear power, stronger than ever. As it is often said, one tends to think highly irrational under an emergency circumstance. For this precise reason, I am determined to see through what this irrationality is going to produce, that which we would not see otherwise. I would like to survive for that. No matter what the government tells us, I will remain and survive in Tokyo.

*Take this as an irrational thought of a man who lives in Tokyo. As with Otomo, I’d like to acknowledge that those who have different ideas and ways of living “ought to all make up our own choices,” and I’d like to “respect them whatever they are.”


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