Tokyo Exodus Part 3: ATM Shutdowns, Power Outages Put Citizens On Edge, Gold Hoarded In Evacuation Preparations

Tyler Durden's picture

The resilience of those living in the Japanese capital has been beyond admirable. After experiencing a record earthquake, hundreds of aftershocks, a historic tsunami, radioactive catastrophy 160 miles away and constant fears a northeasterly wind can bring in radioactive snow, and now unending rolling blackouts and ATM service interruptions, one has yet to hear about any mass exodus let alone coordinated complaining. That may all soon to change: Reuters reports that citizens are becoming increasingly restless and weary: " As authorities struggle to avert catastrophe at a crippled nuclear-power complex 240 km (150 miles) to the north, Tokyo faced a test of nerves almost a week after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck. Some residents are leaving, some are applying for passports or hoarding what they can -- from food to cash and gold, a safe haven during times of crisis. Premiums for gold bars rose to as much as $2 an ounce in Tokyo. At the second-floor office of the Tokyo Passport Centre in the city's Yurakucho district, queues snaked to the first floor." In other words the mass exodus we have been predicting for 3 days now, appears imminent: ""We don't know the reason but suddenly since yesterday we have had 1.5 times more people than usual coming to apply for a passport or to enquire about getting one," said Shigeaki Ohashi, an official at the passport centre." You really don't know the reason. Really?

More from Reuters:

Malfunctioning bank machines and threats of power outages on Thursday jolted a stressed Tokyo where millions stocked up on rice and other essentials, stayed indoors or crowded into airports during Japan's nuclear crisis.

Flurries of transactions at some Mizuho Bank branches abruptly shut thousands of automated teller machines and the government warned of major blackouts, adding to the disorder of a city that thrives on precision and efficiency.

 Areas usually packed with office workers crammed into sushi restaurants and noodle shops have gone quiet. Many schools are closed. Companies have allowed workers to stay home and voluntarily cut power usage, submerging parts of the typically neon-lit city in darkness.

Trade Minister Banri Kaieda said unexpected, large-scale power outages were possible but unlikley as an unusually crisp, pink sunset bathed the city.

Mizuho said its troubles were due to a concentration of transactions at some unidentified branches.

The ATMs went down for about two hours in the morning, and failed again in the evening. Customers also could not make foreign currency withdrawals and other transactions.

Outside a Mizuho branch in Tokyo's Akasaka district, six staff stood in the cold winter air apologising to customers.

"This taught me a lesson that I have to have at least some amount of cash with me," said Hiromi Sugita, a 42-year-old insurance agent as she left the branch.

Mizuho shares closed down 1.46 percent against a 1.8 percent fall in the benchmark Nikkei 225 average.

 Many people have stocked up food, milk and rice, emptying some shelves at supermarkets. Thousands have showed up at nearby airports without tickets, hoping to book flights out.

"Life and health are the priority over cost in doing this, so I'm escaping Japan even though I don't feel like it," said La Ha-Na, a South Korean student living in Tokyo.

Television showed busloads of people leaving the city. 

Expect those dubbed as "idiots" by Sean Corrigan to soon realize just how dumb they are to believe that a country whose capital is about to become a ghost town can see its GDP output surge imminently as rebuilding begins.

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Broken_Trades's picture

2$/Oz - Thats the premium for Armageddon in Japan????


Im selling all my gold now... 

TheGreatPonzi's picture

Gold is not supposed to protect from an 'armageddon'. Only an hyperinflation. 

I don't think gold around Chernobyl was very useful. But if you had food/water or iodine pills, you could have made a fortune in the black market.

Broken_Trades's picture

The premium i pay in Canada is much more than 2$/Oz.

If ATMs stopped giving out money, I think gold would become more valuable don't you?


TD:  Is this a typo?  2$/oz is a rounding error, its not even worth mentioning.

TheGreatPonzi's picture

"If ATMs stopped giving out money, I think gold would become more valuable don't you?"

If cash stops being given out by ATMs, then cash becomes scarce. 

In this condition, cash gains value against other goods. At least temporarily (because a bank holiday is often the harbinger of coming paper repudiations/CB monetizations). 

h3m1ngw4y's picture

does anyone of you know the size of the gold bars? perhaps 2$ premium is a lot. lol only thinking in ounces ^^

Sudden Debt's picture

I think he means 2% per GRAMM.

Here  in europe I pay 40$ premium on 1 ounce.


i-dog's picture

"At the second-floor office of the Tokyo Passport Centre in the city's Yurakucho district, queues snaked to the first floor."

Wow!! ... Armageddon indeed! ... in a metropolitan area of 35 million people, the queue for passports stretches for one whole floor?!! ... wow, like ..... errrrm ..... 35 people?! That's what I call a mass exodus!!

Someone needs to get a grip.

UGrev's picture

Money, was worthless after Chernobyl. My neighbor who is from Ukraine said they didn't have much before "The Chernobyl". They owned a farm and raised chickens. Most of the rurual economy was farming. Their economy was destroyed after "The Chernobyl" and then again following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. But because they had a farm and raised chickens, they became rich and then moved the hell out of there. 

Farms and Chickens made them wealthy enough to be able to pack up and leave. I have a wonderful resource in them that I am using as a sounding board. I'll give more details after I talk with them more.

Btw.. I just have to say that so far, EVERY Ukranian I've met in their community has seemed more American to me than the Americans that were born and raised here. Just thought I'd throw that out there,  because quite honestly... if a SHTF scenario ever happened here, I sure wouldn't be hanging with the Jones' 2 houses down. 

mogul rider's picture

Gold protects in all cases, in all situations, in all countries.

Don't confuse CNBC knucklehead talk with the truth.

It is the ultimate protector - period.


snowball777's picture

You don't find 55T Yen in under a week to be 'hyper'?

Ahmeexnal's picture

A mithril suit will protect you against anything.


Ozzie's picture

Yep $2/ounce is much less than we pay in Australia and there ain't no panic over here.

prophet's picture

A crane with a hose and camera - no.

Equipment staging - no.

Fast build shelters for displaced population - no.

ROVs -  no.

Mindbogglingly tragic.

eddiebe's picture

I'm starting to think that the Japanese are totally inept, or at least the people supposedly in command are.

 I believe they got so hammered at the end of WW2 and have since been made to toe the line by the Anglo Empire that they just are not capable to deal with any black swan event.

 Sadly it kind of reminds me of how U.S. authorities dealt with the aftermath of Katrina.

 Starve the beast!


eigenvalue's picture

I suggest using 100 hydrogen bombs to wipe the nuclear plant out. Everything will become particles during the bombing and the Japanese won't have to worry about nuclear leakage from this plant any more.

sangell's picture

Are the Japanese the 'solution' to Americas foreclosure crisis? Offer one permanent residency visa if you buy a GSE or HUD REO property of $150,000 or more.

On a more serious note, we may well have to offer refuge to millions of Japanese, should Tokyo etc, be rendered uninhabitable.

bob_dabolina's picture

How bout this:

For every $150,000 of US debt forgiven 1 Japanese family gets a home equal to $150,000

Two birds, one stone.

eddiebe's picture

Sell them Nevada for 50 Trillion dollars( minus mineral and water rights of course ).

Judge Judy Scheinlok's picture

We need a website to match refugees with sponsors. Japanese are good peoples.

Get on it Sacrilege, ya bum.

Sudden Debt's picture

Japanese are good people until they turn into immigrants.

And once they are immigrants, they aren't people anymore but a statistical number and needs to go down.




GrouchoNotKarl's picture

Don't junk this man because he speaks the sad truth.

Creed's picture

No he's a simple racist.


Racism is the knee jerk cry of the public school liberal.

Accusation is proof.

My real life observations have shown me that members of the Democrat party in America are the most racist Americans, beginning with the blacks who hate whites & take every opportunity to say so. 

The poster said Japs are good, moron, but your ADHD brain simply didn't see it.

Eddie Stobart's picture

And who is "liberal" the knee jerk cry of?

Well we can talk about me, I'm fascinating. If saying "racist" makes me a pinko liberal lesbian I'll wear the badge, the hat and the sensible shoes.

I made the accusation on the following argument:

"The Japanese as a race and culture are unique in that unlike other races they are good, but they transform when they become immigrants and become bad."

That statement is either true and there is conclusive evidence for it. Or it is an opinion based on conjecture. If there was evidence then I assume it would be widely known. Since there appears to be no evidence then the statement is simply a blinkered opinion which serves to separate the Japanese apart from all other races as being less trustworthy. So the holder of that opinion can be regarded as a bigot.

I will withdraw my accusation and apologise when I see the evidence.

gruden's picture

Take a look at the American concentration camps.  The ones they herded the Japanese immigrants into during WW2.  They were not treated like human beings. 

QQQBall's picture

Where is the Black Twinkie? Mocha outside, chickenshit core. Rio? Great!

Sudden Debt's picture

silver bullions are now really almost everywhere sold out.

Give it another year before the herd wants some to when silver and gold become currency once again and we'll be looking at prices for the PM never seen in history.

virgule's picture

I was surprised to see silver coins and bullion bars freely available for sale in Shanghai recently (reputable gold dealers, not street sellers...), in no apparent limit (retail - I didn't ask for 500kg)

I was also surprised by the premium for physical, with 1z silver maple leaf selling at USD equivalent 50++

Made me think twice about buying any such coins. Perhaps I should have?

snowball777's picture

As long as you know someone dumb enough to take Tungsten for the real deal. Why not?

GubbermintWorker's picture

You'd really worry about tungsten cored coins? I've yet to see a credible report of even one coin with a tungsten core. Could you provide one please?

Eager learner's picture

tungsten no, iron yes.

Counterfeit coins from China turning up in Wash. state

Rich V's picture

At $50 an oz there will be no shortage of coins to buy.

Edmund Dantes's picture

you are a fool and a homosexual

Larry Darrell's picture

Moving that many people will be even more fun with Brent crude ticking back up and touching $113 again already because we all know that neither cars nor planes need oil derived fuels.

Poor Grogman's picture

Would have

Could have

Should have


gwar5's picture

Wonder how much gold and cash $Y the Japanese can take out of the country, declaration wise, and per any capital controls.

Anybody know?

deadcow's picture

20 workers from the power plant have been diagnosed with severe radiation poisoning. ARD cites IAEO as the source of this information. tepco released a document a couple of hours ago stating that 14 of those workers have not been contaminated. this is getting ugly.

Freewheelin Franklin's picture

The resilience of those living in the Japanese capital has been beyond admirable.


Admirable, indeed. If that had happened in the US, there would be widespread looting. NY blackout, LA Riots, Hurricane Katrina, etc. The US has a long history of looting.

ibjamming's picture

Yup...Japan doesn't have the ni@@er problem we have...

Creed's picture

lol, now that's fucking racist


factual...but the purposeful use of inflammatory words is racist




snowball777's picture

Flight to Safety: Radioactive Edition

Eddie Stobart's picture

I have relatives in Tokyo and they are not panicking. On the contrary there is an atmosphere of relative tranquility. A lot of people staying at home because they have been told to by their employers because of the power outages. And there is queuing at many stores. But queues are quite common in Tokyo - there are 12 million people there.

Stories of danger, crisis and panic make for good news copy. And in the way CNBC spins bad economic news into good CNN spins a set of unfortunate circumstances into armageddon. (What is the criterion for deciding whether a story is true or not? Whether it makes the world seem like more of a shit place to be.)

You predict Tokyo will be a ghost town. Nonsense.

snowball777's picture

If the residents of Tokyo had any sense, they'd already be on the far side of the island; pray towards heaven...row towards shore.

Eddie Stobart's picture

But that would be a knee-jerk reaction borne of ignorance and fear.

Tokyo is 150 miles away from Fukushima. And, in even the worst case there will be a permanent 50 mile exclusion zone around the reactors.

I'm sure they will have plenty of opportunity to abandon the city if something really bad happens.

Creed's picture

Eddie, your anecdotal evidence is interesting, but statistically irrelevant.

As far as worst case goes, you have no idea what you're talking about.

I posted a NY Times article here the other day with a 1997 study that showed worst case with these types of reactors makes Tokyo a dead zone.

Your friends should go on vacation to your house for a while, just to be on the safe side.

Eddie Stobart's picture

I meant "worst case" as in it is not considered rated as bad as Chernobyl so a similar exclusion zone will do. Not "worst case" as in everone abandons the reactors, lets them disintegrate and watches the fireworks from a safe distance.

They are welcome but they don't get CNN or any other US news media so they are content to stay where they are.

tmosley's picture

If it's so normal, why are the shelves empty?  Why are the banks evacuating their employees?  Why have all the executives in the country fled for Hong Kong?

Your normalcy bias is among the worst I have ever seen.

Eddie Stobart's picture

The shelves are not empty. Work it out. Why would people queue for an empty shelf?

"All the executives." Every single one? Well go ahead and name one.

Having spoken to my relatives (actually my wife's relatives) and friends who live there I'm only passing on the information I have. If being in direct contact with people who are experiencing the situation first hand skews my sense of perspective then, ok ... yes I'm biased. Besides I'm not saying everything is normal, (they have just experienced a massive earthquake) I'm just saying it isn't panic.