Fukushima radiation spurts sowing the seeds of mass panic.

The news is the obvious today: even though a number of credible sources say that there is relatively no threat to people at a distance from Japan’s now-notorious Fukushima nuclear reactors, people are getting edgy anyway.

The New York Times (Martin Fackler) reports that people living in that zone between what the Japanese say is safe and what the American government recommends Americans stay out of, which is something like a region between 30 and 50 miles of Fukushima, are deciding to pack up and move west into the mountains.

The Times also reports that executives in Tokyo–both of domestic firms and the weasel expats who live the good life off Uncle Sam and the rest of us–have decided to head to Osaka or other western cities. Some of them, even, are taking some of their vacation now and getting themselves and their families out of the country.

It’s just so typical, and reminds me of how the Japanese colonels were telling the citizenry to jump off cliffs and kill themselves during World War II, while the colonels themselves were shouting the orders while hiding in the shadows. All the big wig executives are saving their own butts, and their childrens’, from the radiation. Meanwhile they are telling the everyday people that everything is safe–except in the places that are obvious like the 19 mile radius around the plant.

What leadership USED to be is that the top person was right in the there taking the same or similar risks as the everyman in the ranks. Oh, not any more! Welcome to the 21st century, where the King goes off and hides while the army fights the battle.

Some of the internet know-it-alls in Japan are out there blogging that the radiation is not an issue. Maybe it isn’t, and the professional scientists are just talking out of their butts. But maybe having this radioactive material burning away for six or seven weeks is in fact a hazard that will rank up there past Three Mile Island and near Chernobyl.

It’s starting to sound like a slow-motion Chernobyl, where the whole thing doesn’t go BOOM at once, but rather the effects are over time. Anybody stupid enough to follow the official line later ends up the gullible victim.

What the average American doesn’t understand about Japanese society is that there are the Elite, and then there’s everybody else. This crisis–on top of last week’s earthquake and tsunami–is revealing these other, social, fault lines. You will see in the weeks and months ahead that the Japanese society, when push comes to shove like it did in those flooding Sendai high schools, is one that is very much unreformed after World War II. It’s the elite, and then everybody else.

When our own people go over there in a position of any kind of weight, they buy right into this, you know. They forget our laws, and they forget where they came from until they need a charter flight out of the country. Then, they take vacation.

[Update: I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before (and you wouldn’t have to download 200 entries to find it), that MacArthur didn’t rip the fascist weeds out of Japanese society. It was more like he took a lawn mower to them and cut them down to ground level. But the root was left there.

After the war, this root simply hid behind corporate form, the bureaucracy, the LDP, and “Japanese culture” to re-assert itself over Japanese life. That’s why few of these citizens trust what Tokyo Power and Electric has to say. Would you? In systems like a corporate fascist one, human rights don’t matter. Law is ignored. The truth is whatever the corporation says it is, and the “greater good” is whatever benefits the corporation. The people running the corporation aren’t worried about the families with kids around Fukushima. They’re worried about what’s going to get their bosses, and ultimately their company, out of the jam that it’s in.

They certainly don’t want mass panic. But at the moment, there are only so many life boats. ]