Saturday, March 19
No, We Are Not Leaving Japan
In the past few days, we have had to question our perspective of the situation here after hundreds of expats (mainly those in Tokyo) have decided to evacuate Japan, with the assistance of their respective governments. Now, I am no fan of radiation but I do watch and listen carefully and from what I understand, it isn't going to be so dangerous outside of the designated evacuation zone. For those nuclear power plant personnel who remained, for the firefighters, the policemen who are in there battling the alpha and gamma rays, yes, it is terribly dangerous. They are risking their lives for Japan and deserve a ticker-tape parade that stretches the length of Honshu. For the overstressed victims of the tsunami who are stuck in the region, of course it is alarming. But for those of us outside of the zone, even in Tokyo, I think some of us are overreacting. The government of Japan, the IAEA, the WHO, even Greenpeace say the the real effects of this nuclear emergency are not as drastic as people seem to conclude they are.
And now it is coming out that some of the nearby spinach fields were contaminated, milk may have become contaminated. Yet seriously folks, do you think that anyone in the area is thinking about harvesting spinach? Have you seen the pictures of the destruction around the plant? And how would anyone get the contaminated food out of there? They can't even manage to get basic needs supplies to the victims who are now suffering new dangers of starvation and illness due to the lack of food, fuel, medicine, and water due to the broken infrastructure combined with crazy panic buying. They are now saying that the total missing or dead may reach 20,000. 20,000. How many people are going to be seriously affected by nuclear fallout compared with that terribly serious number?
The attention needs to be redirected back to the true victims of this catastrophe.
Japan needs people now more than ever and we plan to stand by the land of the Rising Sun for as long as we can. We came to Japan for the same reasons people migrate to any place: for better opportunities, for adventure, for a global upbringing of our children. Japan has given us this and so much more. We have come of age in Japan. We have been the beneficiaries of such kindness and generosity that I could have never imagined prior to landing in Tokyo six years ago. It is our home now and though we will always be Americans, we are a bit Japanese now too and we will stay here with our brothers and sisters and help rebuild our adopted homeland. To leave now, when there is so much to do, when tomorrow has so much promise due to the collective strength and will of the people, even to consider it breaks my heart.
Today we went to Meijo Koen and were happy to discover many other families had broken away from their TVs to do the same. It was a gorgeous Spring day and you couldn't help smiling as people tossed frisbees and played tag. It was warm enough that we recovered our sense of smell and the sweet fragrance of blossoms was almost startling after our long winter. On the way out of the park, we came across this early blooming sakura. Everyone who passed by stopped to stare at the pink cherry blossoms bursting forth. One lady paused beside me and said, "When I see the sakura, I see Japan".
As horrible as the events of last week have been, it seems only fitting that such destruction should occur before the first days of Spring. It is a time for rebirth and Japan will rise from the flames stronger and wiser than before, a phoenix perched on the branches of a cherry tree in full bloom.