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Japan

As If Nothing Happened, Japan Goes Nuclear Again

Although 80 percent of the population would like to see the end of nuclear power in Japan, electrical companies are gradually reopening their plants.

At the stricken Fukushima plant (IAEA)
At the stricken Fukushima plant (IAEA)
Philippe Pons

The recent reopening of one of the nuclear reactors at Oi Power Plant (west of Honshu, Japan's main island) and of another on July 18 has marked the end of the suspension period of Japan's nuclear energy program. Following the catastrophe on March 11, 2011 at the Fukushima power plant, around 50 plants on the archipelago were gradually halted for temporary maintenance and the reinforcement of security measures.

The reopening, which will be the first of many, was judged premature by experts: the catastrophe in Fukushima, prompted by the devastating tsunami and the most serious since Chernobyl in 1986, was said to have been caused by human negligence. In a damning report published on July 5, a study commissioned by the parliament concluded that the catastrophe was a "man made disaster:" the result of collusion between the State and its private interests and an under-estimation of risks.

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Coronavirus

In Shanghai, A Brewing Expat Exodus As COVID Crackdown Shows "Real" China

Not only strict rules of freedom of movement as part of Zero-COVID policy but also an increase in censorship has raised many questions for the expat population in the megacity of 26 million that had long enjoyed a kind of special status in China as a place of freedom and openness. A recent survey of foreigners in the Chinese megacity found that 48% of respondents said they would leave Shanghai within the next year.

People walk in Tianzifang, located in Huangpu District, a well-known tourist attraction in Shanghai.

Lili Bai

SHANGHAI — On the seventh day of the lockdown, Félix, a French expat who has worked in Shanghai for four years, texted his boss: I want to "run,' mais je sais pas quand (but I don’t know when). A minute later, he received a reply: moi aussi (me too).

Félix had recently learned the new Mandarin word 润 (run) from social network postings of his local friends. Because its pinyin “rùn” is the same as the English word “run,” Chinese youth had begun to use it to express their wish to escape reality, either to “be freed from mundane life”, or to “run toward your future.”

For foreigners like Félix, by associating the expression “run” with the feeling of the current lockdown in Shanghai, “everything makes sense.” Félix recalled how at the end of March, the government denied rumors of an impending lockdown: “My Chinese colleagues all said, Shanghai is China’s top city, there would be no lockdown no matter what.”

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