Fearing Radiation, New York Opera Stars Cancel Japan Tour

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    New York’s Metropolitan Opera Company is in Japan to put on shows in Nagoya and Tokyo. Two of its stars, Russian soprano Anna Netrebko and Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja, had to be replaced at the last minute because they feared radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident:

    The radiation scare due to the world’s worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster sent foreigners fleeing from Japan and saw the number of visitors from abroad plunge.

    Netrebko, who was born in 1971 in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, “changed her mind because of the emotional weight of having also lived through the tragedy of Chernobyl,” the Met statement said.

    “She didn’t feel that she would be able to present her best performances and didn’t want to disappoint her Japanese fans.”

    Calleja, 33, “also had last-minute misgivings about performing in Japan at this time,” the Met added.

    Their decision is quite ridiculous, when you consider the situation in Japan:

    • Tokyo and Nagoya are far away from Fukushima. As of Yesterday, the radiation level in Tokyo was lower than the amount measured in cities such as New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Berlin, and Taipei.
    • If one stays away from the contaminated area of Fukushima, the biggest radiation risk from a trip to Japan would come from radiation exposure during air travel. (And even that would be at a harmless level.)
    • There is no measurable amount of radiation in Tokyo’s tap water. Until about a month ago, a tiny amount of radiation was detected, but it was far below the safety standards. Now the tests find no radiation.
    • Safety checks on food are constantly being carried out. When radiation exceeds standards, the sale of the food in question is halted. A foreign tourist would have very little chance of consuming any food that contained a significant amount of radiation.

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