Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An update from Tokyo

A couple of days ago I got an email from The Times in the UK. It seems someone there had been reading my blog. At the time they were planning to run an article on all the people "evacuating" Tokyo. Now that things have calmed down a little I think the article has been benched but here is the reply I sent to The Times....

I'm back in Tokyo now, as are most of my co-workers. I would say the atmosphere here is still nervous and apprehensive, but definitely a lot less tense than it was when I left last week.

As you are aware, the situation with the reactors in Fukushima was making us all nervous. In addition, it was difficult to know which news source to trust. The local media was saying everything was okay and yet the Prime Minister wasn't confident at all. The foreign media sensationalized everything to the point that even people as far away as Oregon in the USA were buying iodine tablets. This in turn caused our families to panic who pressured us to leave.

The Japanese, while quite calm on the surface, were panic-buying everything in the stores. Stores quickly ran out of bread, bottled water and toilet paper. Then, as the reactors failed, blackouts were scheduled across Tokyo and trains stopped. It was cold and miserable, the ground continued to shake every hour or so and (even though it was mostly disinformation) the threat of possible nuclear meltdown hung over our heads. I felt, as did many of my friends, that a holiday down south would be best.

However, with the news of the reactors cooling down, and calming reports from those who had remained in Tokyo telling us that everything was okay, we decided that it was time to come back.

The ground is still shaking which is hard to deal with. Before, we would have just ignored most quakes. They happened every now and then and nothing ever really came of them so we all just grew complacent. Now, every time we feel a quake, the people freeze and wait. Is it going to get bigger? Is this going to be the really big one? After a while the tremors really start to grate on the nerves.

At this stage, I'm planning to stay on in Tokyo. My feeling is the people here need our support. We need to show a solid front now and prove that we can beat this thing.

The atmosphere here is still far from being relaxed, but there is hope.

Location:Tokyo, Japan

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