2011年3月15日火曜日

conflicted times

It feels like Japan is in turmoil at the moment. The news from up north is heart breaking- four people sharing one rice ball for dinner (Meg and Amy take 3-4 in their bento for one kid's lunch), people who have evacuated to relative safety only to find emergency rations haven't got there at all... Tonight's news included a fax from someone who had walked out to get word that there were 100 people including a lot of preschoolers, primary school and junior high school students evacuated at a camp ground with no heating, no power, no phone or radio, not enough blankets and little food. Oh and it's raining/ snowing tonight with near zero temperatures. How can you watch that news (and there's hour after hour of stories just like that) and not get sick. Gaijinwife called it 'PTSD by association' and I really think she has a point. Of course we here safe in our warm houses with full bellies can't even imagine an inkling of what those in the quake zones are experiencing but that's not to say we aren't touched by it at all.

The news and information we are getting is at the same time overwhelming and insufficient. Overwhelming in that it's 24/7 and on every channel. It's highly technical, there are sirens and alerts and rolling tickers of up to the second breaking news super imposed on amazingly technical explanations by experts and mindbendingly vague and seemingly contradictory press conferences by politicians. It's also overwhelming in that I can watch the national broadcaster (NHK- the mouthpiece of the government) commercial news, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and NHK world service. All talking about the same stuff and all with different takes on it. NHK says stay calm we're fine, CNN screams MELTDOWN MELTDOWN, NHK world has more detail than I could possibly take in in a week- and that's after I google all the big words, Al Jazeera makes me feel like I'm at school...

The official alerts from the various embassies are also wildly different. Germany has chartered flights out for the staff of the big German companies here and is strongly urging their citizens to leave, Russia is telling their citizens this is similar to what happened in Chernobyl and to get out, France telephoned their citizens with information etc etc. Yokoto US base in Tokyo says no need to panic and is doing its own radiation monitoring and Australia? I got an email alert saying don't go within 20km of the reactor (derr! it's an exclusion zone!) and to avoid travel to Miyagi as we don't want to hamper rescue efforts. I am at a loss to understand why these briefings are so different. Is the source information so varied or just the interpretation of it?

Many of my foreign friends are evacuating. Some simply expediting prior travel arrangements and others leaving temporarily, indefinitely and even permanently. Some are from the prefectures most effected, others further away... Two families looked in to coming here to stay with us for a while (we are 480 km from the reactor and in a relatively seismically safe area) while another friend is making plans to flee from here...

My local Japanese friends all seem very nonchalant about it. Many aren't worried at all- we're so far away, we are country folk- we can source enough food from this area if need be, if it happens it happens... I got a call today wondering why I hadn't turned up at a lunch date. I had assumed it was cancelled because of the current situation. Why would you think that?? they asked. I was talking to one of my older neighbours about how all our houses are about the same age (30+ years) and made from wood. If there's a quake they will likely not be in great shape. What would we do? It would be a tight squeeze to get the entire community in the neighbourhood hall... She reminded me a neighbour's son has just built a beautiful and quite large steel rafter house (the strong kind) and we could all head over there. "Good idea. Did he say that would be ok?" "I haven't asked him. We'll just go." His wife will be thrilled when we all turn up shouldering bags of rice and dragging our pickling buckets I'm sure...

And my PIL, a mere 80km from the reactors and still without water or sewerage? They won't evacuate. They have a roof over their heads and it's their roof. They are going to avoid going outside. Food is scarce, petrol scarcer and the water truck a 30 minute walk away. MIL managed to make this a positive 'all the exercise hauling water and the rice, beans and dried daikon diet is the best lifestyle FIL has ever had!' He has diabetes and isn't known for his love of exercise or strict low sugar diet but still...

I don't know what to say because I don't know what to think. I feel like a hamster- I just want to curl up in a ball with my nose under my tail and wait till the threat goes away... But we have school tomorrow, and work as normal and I hear there's petrol at the next town over...

5 件のコメント:

D. さんのコメント...

The Italian television and in particular the TG1, news of the first public channel, is doing a good job, keeping us up to date without catastrophism.
Their site is only in Italian but, if you want to know something from there, I can translate it for you.

Big hugs from Italy.

thefukases さんのコメント...

Thanks D. I get a lot of comfort just knowing that the reporting is not catastrophy based. And I'll take all the hugs I can get!

Judith さんのコメント...

I keep comparing BBC and the German news on what's happening. They are miles apart. I trust the BBC more. In the German one they keep comparing to Chernobyl and keep talking about Germans returning from Japan being scared. To be fair I am comparing BBC to Yahoo News Germany, so maybe the public channels are doing a better job of it and don't over dramatise everything.

kasandora さんのコメント...

Love you guys, you are the smartest person I know! Thanks for helping me keep my sanity in all of this!

Coffeegrljp さんのコメント...

It's crazy isn't it??? I don't know what to think. "keep calm, all is fine" hardly seems appropriate when thousands of people are missing or worse and there's the possibility of nuclear radiation. But screaming "chernobyl!" doesn't seem helpful either. argh.