I’ve read an article on CNN.com about how Japanese residents are beginning to voluntarily absent from Tokyo, the largest city in Japan. The Tokyo metropolitan area is about 30,000,000 citizens, roughly one in four of Japan’s. I mention this because that rather blows my mind. Imagine if one in four Americans lived in New York City. That’s crazy dense.
But the article got me to thinking: What would a Japanese diaspora look like? Imagine that the nuclear problems that result from the earthquake/tsunami are worse than the authorities know or as bad as the most fevered anti-nuclear-power activist can nightmare up (some speculation from someone who might know). Suppose it renders part of Japan uninhabitable, and 40,000,000 or 60,000,000 people need to relocate, many of them outside the Japanese islands proper. What would that do to the world?
Personally, I would hope that the United States would throw open her doors to accommodate as many of the displaced as possible. It would be a great humanitarian gesture, and we would get some new citizen-track people with ingenuity, productivity, and excellent anime skills. Of course, it would cause a couple issues. It might weird the immigrants out completely to live in our heterogeneous society. They might be inclined to enclave up and make little Tokyos wherever they landed, but that happens enough now anyway. It would bump US population substantially, and we’d want to ease them into our population and society as we could. The illegal immigrants from Mexico and their advocates would raise holy kiri, of course, but a great natural disaster warrants one-time consideration that escaping from failed states and faltering economies does not. If we’re going to get cityscapes that match Blade Runner, great Japanese inflow would shortcut it. On the other hand, having all the anime companies stateside would probably make Steven Den Beste’s downloads faster, which might decrease his number of Hot Air Green Room posts further.
Where would they go elsewhere in the world if they did not come to the United States? Australia? China? Korea? Southeast Asia? South America? Europe? Africa? Any large, homogeneous influx like this will radically alter the composition of whatever nation or nations took them in. What would 500,000 Japanese do to the UK? What tensions would arise if 1,000,000 Japanese moved into the Pacific regions of Russia?
An American nuclear meltdown or whatnot would not cause great outflows. Our country is wide and not densely populated. Force everyone in New York City to move out of New York City, and you could spread them across New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Maine, and a lot of us would be none the wiser. But in Asia, blocking off a small portion of habitable land will displace a lot of people.
All speculation aside, I’m more sanguine than this as to what will happen when the Japanese get those nuclear plants cooled down. But I do like to speculate for speculation’s sake. There’s a novel or series of novels in these questions.