Written sunday 27/03

Ishinomaki soldier

At this point in time you are more likely to be better informed about the possibility of impending doom in japan than I am!
Even though I have fully prepared for my departure to Tokyo, I, rather sillily haven’t had the time nor mental patience to keep up to date with the nuclear situation as I was doing a little while back.

The status as I know it is this: as the situation gets neither better or worse (the latter thanks to the hard work of those soldiers at the plant) the government is rather unpleased with TEPCo (even though they should be fuming – apparently the backup generators were outside the building, didn’t know this), the managing company of the plant, for keeping knowledge of high radiation levels in the air a secret shortly after the earthquake, as well as their inadequate gear the workers were given to use!

The good news seems to be that some electricity has been restored to several of the reactors and that the amount of radiation in the air is decreasing.

On the bad side of things, most farmers in the area have lost their cost of living, due to extremely high levels of radioactive isotopes found in farm produce mainly milk and leafy vegetables. Radioactive elements are also being detected in the water, which sent a lot of people into a temporary scared mode, but let it be known that the japanese government’s legal limits are abiout 1/10th of those set by the IEAE, as well as these levels are dropping too. The current problem is slightly more complicated, and also probably a result of knowledge previously untold, where not ONLY radioactive iodine-131 and caesium-133 have been detected by other isotopes as well which are only ever produced as a byproduct of nuclear fission – this means that the spent fuel rods slightly started up again and have leaked from “unknown places” into the water.
Figures presented by TEPCo only mentioned water in teh system outside the reactor but never mentioned any water outside this. I’m also curious about the far more health-threatening uranium and plutonium. There was a report on TV of police who went had to go into the 20km evacuation zone after a woman called, worried about her parents. The old lady & her husband were still living there, off of what food i don’t know, and they refused the leave (the husband was unable to walk). In the end all they could do was tell them to stay inside.

Over 10,000 confirmed dead and almost 18,000 missing. They’re estimating the wave that hit Minamisanriku was 14-16m high. How can you prepare yourself for that?

Life in Nagoya has gone on as normal. We don’t get blackouts here as northern Japan is on a 50kHz scale and southern is on a 60kHz scale – apparently a result of post-war options of different energy systems and the sides chose differently.
Tokyo isn’t experiencing any more blackouts and trains are running almost like normal, except for in the evening, where there are slightly fewer trains.
It’s been tough heading up there – mainly stress from moving disasters. Basically, it was all a mess in my room & there were 4 things i needed to sort out:
1. was selling some things to someone in nagoya but she was getting back to me slowly, in the end not at all and i ended up having to carry all the heavy stuff to a recycling center near my house
2. I had been offered help by someone to help me get my sofa to a different recycling store. The person got back to me so late the shop was closed to I had to illegally dump it somewhere.
3. I needed to send some boxed home but the companies couldn’t pick them up on the weekend and then i started worrying about the price too, but my Japanese friend helped me figure out that sea mail with the normal post is actually cheap, and I could drop it off any time. Saying that, just after i sent them a friend told me about her disaster with sending boxes home and I started to worry. NOT what i needed at the time
4. I was going to forward my suitcase & futon to Tokyo (a great service they have in japan) but the futon turned out to be too big so I ended up having to carry it by hand which was ridiculously havy.
On top of all this the bed i booked in Tokyo hasn’t been vacated uet and so the company have had to put me up in a toom in Asakusa, far from Harajuku where i’d wanted to be, and i’m going to have to move again in a few days time.

I’m publishing this from my room in Tokyo, where I’ve finally managed to arrive safe and sound though a lot worse for wear. This has made me a little more susceptible to fear about the earthquake and radiation, but I feel that tomorrow, after a good nights sleep and scouting out the city, I will be in a much better state of mind.
I have a feeling that every single Japanese I meet here will tell me I’m “brave”, I’ve heard it 4 times so far!

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