‘On the Road to Fukushima’

When I was invited a couple of years ago to contribute a chapter for the book Censored 2013, published by the media watch/media literacy group Project Censored in the United States, I knew exactly what angle I wanted to take in writing it.

The nuclear power plant meltdown at Fukushima, Japan on 11 March 2011 immediately raised a lot of questions in the Japanese and overseas press that focused on the urgency of the accident: How serious is it? What levels of radiation are being released? What precautions should people take in protecting themselves? What measures are being taken to contain the crisis?, and so on.

But as time went on, I found that there was one pressing question that the news media in Japan, in particular, seemed to be missing altogether: How did we get here?

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A Mandela Moment (2)

Those who are honored to have met the late Mr. Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, always seem to take special pride in their particular Mandela Moment, a memory that remains with them for a long time.

My first such Mandela Moment took place on 28 October 1990, a Sunday, when I had a chance to shake hands with the great man at a welcoming rally in Osaka, Japan just a few months after Mandela, then-deputy president of his party, the African National Congress (ANC), had been released from 27 years in South African prisons.

My second Mandela Moment a few months after that was just as memorable, if not more memorable, than the first one.

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A Mandela Moment (1)

It has been nothing less than soul-shaking and inspiring to follow the stories of so many people around the globe over the last week or so of how Mr. Nelson Mandela touched them in some way, whether up close or from a distance, whether with a smile or a hug or some kind of personal encouragement from him.

One of my favorite Mandela stories from South Africans themselves is this one that appeared in the New York Times: how, during an early-morning walk in his native village back in 1995, one year into his presidency, Mandela helped a farmer plow his field. It’s a warm story, yet so typical of the testaments that so many people from all walks of life are sharing about their own encounters with Mandela.

Like some folks who have actually had the high honor of meeting Mandela in person, I too have my own personal episodes to share, two of my own special Mandela Moments that will remain a part of me for as long as I live.

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Honoring the ‘Father of Global Humanity’

What does Nelson Mandela mean to you?

It has been deeply moving for me these past couple of days to watch people from all walks of life, from all corners of the world, being asked that same question and to witness their responses.

Whether they are heads of state in some of the biggest countries of the world or ordinary South Africans in their own neighborhoods, people have been emotionally expressing their love and respect for the man that South Africans affectionately call Tata Madiba, the loving father of their nation.

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In Memoriam: Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela

By now you have probably heard the very sad news that Mr. Nelson Mandela has just passed away at age 95 in South Africa.

The world stands divided in many ways, yet in Mandela's passing, he does now what he always did: bring the world that much closer together and remind us of our common bonds to each other.

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The Words of ‘Wasteland’

The environmental state of nations is something that is always on my mind, and we’d all like to think that things are somehow getting better despite all the bad news we see about contamination of the land, sky and water that we depend on for our very survival on this planet.

But I recently came across some powerful words on this subject that, for me, raise sharp questions about just how far we have come in dealing with the pollution that we ourselves have wrought on the world. I share these words with you now in the hope that they may move you too.

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