Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan Update

Richard here.

As everyone knows, we are all well, and the area where Shiramizu is (Sugito City in Saitama prefecture) is totally safe. About 195km from the Fukushima reactor problem NE of here.

While some of the dojo members have family they can not contact in Sendai, Miyagi and the areas where the tsunami hit and the reactors are, everything in Saitama is normal, and there is no need to evacuate.

The situation in Japan looks grim on the news, but actually things on the ground here in unaffected areas (most of Japan) are better than the news reports.

The 80,000+ people first thought lost in Miyage/Sendai is now down to 13,000 (most of them still unconfirmed missing, part of the many not yet reached by rescue crews in isolated coves), and the millions first thought in shelters is now 400,000+.

Still horrible, absolutely, but much better than expected.

It reminds me of 9/11 in New York when 50,000+ people were said to have maybe died at first, but after a few days, it was realized the actual number was much smaller. I'm not trying to trivialize the 3000+ lost on 9/11, no, just pointing out over time things are seen in a more real perspective.

I am not leaving Japan.
Pete is not leaving Japan.

There are non-Japanese leaving, either they had plans to leave later this year, or they had been in Japan long enough anyway or they are foreign company expat staff. Some people are taking their children south or out of the country.

The expat staff will most likely be gone for just a week or two until things calm down. All the company people I talk to or hear about say the same thing.

Some of the non-Japanese leaving will come back.

My decision to stay is simple. It's based on cold, hard facts from official guidelines.
Not TV news talking heads, not 'my friend heard...'.

I live 210km from the Fukushima reactors. Shiramizu is 192km away. Tokyo 230km.

The US military, Jpn gov't, Canadian gov't, British gov't, the Int'l Atomic Energy Commission, the World Health Organization and UN Disaster Relief all agree outside 30km in the worst case scenario is still safe.

The US military has 50,000+ personnel in Japan, many who have their families here, but they are not evacuating their children nor the other civilians.

Again, there are lots of 'experts' from universities, etc talking a lot on TV news, but I'm not listening to them.

Only if there is an evacuation order for Canadians will I leave this area, either for the south of Japan or another country.

If I did not have important responsibilities here at home, work and Shiramizu, I would be in Sendai right now volunteering to find people, radiation warning or no radiation warning. I've done forest firefighting, I have basic search and rescue training, and I'm Canadian so I can handle the snow they're having now.

While I have woken up each day expecting for hear this reactor crisis is being controlled, it keeps going sideways, but not worse in that a 100km exclusion zone is not being created to my knowledge at the time of posting this.

I honestly think we are still in the first week of shock and confusion, but by next week, things will be much better.

Again, any concerns someone may have, they must look at the only experts that count, as I've listed them above.

The silver lining to this cloud is that with so many non-Japanese English teachers abandoning ship, there are going to be tons of extra English teaching opportunities for our interns to sort through and choose.
As each intern tries to make the internship better, including the quality of part-time work, the current interns will have a truly unique opportunity to get a few extra good paying gigs.

The official websites I'm looking at.

US Forces Japan

US Forces Japan Commander positive announcement

UK official site

Canadian official site

BBC live Japan - good, except for the odd sensationalist report

Good articles in the Japan Times today about language and attitudes related to these issues, plus helpful information sites.

Feel free to contact me if you have any concerns or questions. Please be aware we are very busy right now so if we don't reply right away, especially if the message is non-essential, I apologize.
In terms of sending advice for what we should do here, I will have to disregard it for now if it doesn't match what the authorities I have listed above are stating. Thank you in advance for understanding.

Other than all this, it sure has been nice and sunny. Today quite windy, I had a wonderful bicycle ride back from the dojo after checking in with Pete. The wind blowing out to sea of course :)


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