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Japan

To Flee Or Not To Flee: Tokyo Residents Weigh Radiation, Aftershock Fears. But Most Stay Put

Nuclear accident fallout and the risk of a massive aftershock have left people -- foreigners and the Japanese alike -- wondering whether they should leave.

Tokyo residents after the quake
Tokyo residents after the quake
Philippe Mesmer

TOKYO - Hunker down or flee? Residents and visitors alike are asking themselves whether to leave Tokyo immediately, or even Japan altogether, to escape the threat of a major aftershock - the national meteorological agency says there's a 70 percent chance of one of 7.0 or higher magnitude occurring in the coming days. And the radioactive emissions being released by the damaged nuclear power plants: could they reach the capital?

Many of the 34.5 million people – native Japanese and a substantial expatriate community – who currently live in the Tokyo metropolitan area are asking themselves these questions. Some did not take long to make up their minds. Already on Saturday morning, South Koreans were flocking, not without some confusion, towards Haneda airport in Tokyo, in the hope of catching a flight for Seoul.

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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