AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Thermometers

Posted by ampontan on Monday, July 25, 2011

HERE’S the headline for the article explaining Kyodo’s weekend RDD poll on whether Japan should continue to use nuclear power:

70% back Kan’s nuclear tack

Here’s the first sentence of Kyodo’s English report:

A weekend telephone poll conducted by Kyodo News found 70.3 percent of respondents support Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s call for a society that does not rely on nuclear power…

Now here’s the first sentence of paragraph 5:

On Kan’s idea for a society without nuclear power, 31.6 percent expressed support while 38.7 percent expressed qualified support for the idea.

Those 38.7% were responding to a Japanese question that translates nicely to, “If I had my druthers…”

Thus, if the headline writers had any integrity — yes, I know — the headline to this article would have been:

31% back Kan’s nuclear tack

The other 38+% are expressing the reflections from a passing cloud of emotion (as are some of the 31+%). In another two years or so, when they have again become accustomed to steel girders no longer falling from the sky, as Dashiell Hammett put it in The Maltese Falcon, that percentage is likely to be much lower. Indeed, if anyone other than the Kan Cabinet and the Democratic Party were in charge of the cleanup in the Tohoku region, the decline might be evident in fewer than two years (or the numbers might not be that high to begin with). Japanese reports suggest that the group with a growing antipathy to nuclear power consists chiefly of women upset with the amount of time it has taken to get the problems at Fukushima under control.

The downstairs thermometer in our house measuring the air temperature reads 31C / 88F at the moment. That’s a normal reading for Japan during the day in late July. It would be significant only if the reading were the same in late January here in the temperate zone. It is the same for this particular poll.

Give them an inch, and the news media will take it 15 miles into the next county if it suits their agenda, their fancy, or their guild’s membership requirement to exaggerate the gossip they’re paid to pass on.

That would be the real news item behind this particular story, had not everyone gotten wise to the game long ago.

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