Life in Japan Today

Life in Japan Today

Life in Japan Today

March 24, 2011

Sharry’s Note: The Japan death toll is now 9800 bodies and 17,500 missing.

It is so easy to stop watching the news regarding a disaster like this: it is so far away and life moves on. Don and I are returning to Ashiya on Tuesday, 29 March. We know that we will be entering a world of mourning, a world that we Americans can relate to because it is like our world after 9/11. We will return to Japan, and for the brief time before we leave on Starr, we will mourn with our Japanese friends.

We promise that we will not forget.

From a Japanese friend living in Honolulu on 17 March:

“So glad to hear you and Don are in Seattle.

Thank you so much for the love and care you have for the Japanese people. As a dual citizen, I greatly appreciate your email and information.

My family and I are following the events in Japan closely and we are in constant touch. We are prepared to take in our Japanese family and friends if the need to leave Tokyo and environs (young children or elderly) arise. Hopefully, it won’t get to that point and people are staying calm there. Thankfully, Hawaii escaped this with limited damage and we are relatively close in proximity and adjustment here would be easy.

Because of supplies and effort required for emergency repairs, evacuation, and relief efforts underway for Tohoku region, there is stress on all of Kanto region and beyond (diverting electricity for Tohoku is the main stress). The effect on industry is acute. Because the government is diverting all necessary supplies and material to relief efforts first, there is lack of raw material (steel, concrete, electrical wires, etc). The only way industries will be able to operate is if they can secure materials from abroad.

Because of the political leadership vacuum that has built up over decades, there is lack of clarity in the information regarding the nuclear danger. We are monitoring the US advisories coming out of the US Embassy (see link below).

Since US is taking the stance of designating 50 mile radius as evacuation zone, we have passed on this message to our friends there. As you know, the Japanese government only evacuated people in 12 mile radius.

Although the national broadcaster (NHK) is pretty much a government run entity that tows the official news, 24/7 broadcast is available in Japanese and English. FYI, I’m sending you the link.

Please stay tuned and be safe if you are traveling to Japan.”

From a friend in Kobe on 18 March:

“Thank you very much for your email. We are sorry for our late reply.

People in Kobe/Osaka area are deeply concerned at the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

The rescue teams of municipal governments around Kansai district are helping to find missing people

They all say that the devastation caused by tsunami is much more disastrous than Great Hanshin earthquake.

The number of the dead people announced today are 6911, and it exceeded Hanshin earthquake (6434 people died).

16 years ago, we were helped by people all over Japan and all over the world, and every one is willing to return the favor we received.

According to the newspaper, every junior-high students of Kobe started campaigns for funds.

At Kentaro’s school which is in Nishinomiya, the students are also standing with the donation box to raise funds.

Right now, roads to Tohoku area are damaged and lack of fuels is very serious, so it is very difficult for common citizens around here to go there to help.

It is reported that people of Tohoku need volunteers who can come and return in one day because the places of refuge are full of people and there are only very small quantity of food, water and fuel.

So at this moment, people hoping to help are mainly sending money to Japanese Red Cross Society, newspaper companies and TV companies etc.

Also relief goods are accepted at certain municipal governments , so people are bringing clothings, blankets, canned food, powder milk for babies, diapers etc.

Since the railways at the Pacific Ocean side were destroyed, the railways at the Japan Sea side are adjusted and now fuels and water are transported by freight train. According to the news, the train arrived at Morioka, Iwate Pref. today.

Also some ports at the Pacific Ocean are fixed and big vessels are now bringing blankets, foods and water, medical goods etc.

Osaka will provide 2000 houses and Kobe 600, and many other prefectures and cities are also planning to provide houses for the victims.

Yesterday when I went to a supermarket, many lights at the shelves were put off to save electricity for Tohoku.

(Actually frequency is different between Kansai and Tohoku/Kanto, so it is said that only small quantity of electricity could be sent through frequency converter station.)

Thank you very much for thinking of Japan and Japanese people. We really appreciate your kindness.”
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