Thursday, March 17, 2011

why Alice is staying

This evening (New York time) I received an email from someone who decided to stay in Tokyo while so many other foreigners have fled. It wasn't just sent to me, but to dozens of others, all of whom are on a distribution list for Tokyo Netball, a great group of women, mainly from the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, who like to meet on Wednesday nights in a school gym in Shibuya for a friendly game of what we Yanks would call hoops, Aussie style (no dribbling now).

Here it is:

Dear All,

I decided not to leave yesterday unless the UK government thinks the radiation and problem is enough to merit evacuation.

After a long discussion with the UK Embassy I have concluded it does not.

Right now Electricity, Food and Gasoline are more of a concern as of course are the continuing aftershocks but my company needs me so I am staying.

I knew about the risks when I first came here 10 years ago; they haven't changed. I still wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I must be crazy.

On the other hand the fact that the buildings in Tokyo are standing at all after last week's little roller-coaster ride has actually made me feel more confident about living in Japan. I always wondered what would happen if a massive earthquake happened. Now I know. For that reason alone, for anyone worried, don't be.

Back to the Nuclear Issue again:

Radiation Levels in Tokyo are 0.03to 0.08 micro sieverts compared to, until now, a two year average of 0.065 micro sieverts. They peaked at 0.809 on Tuesday am but after that the wind changed and blew everything out to the Pacific.

Tokyo has lovely blue skies and sunny weather, quiet and peaceful.

Its quite lovely, people more friendly than normal.

Keeping an eye on the winds and the geiger counter just in case but I have plenty of food and water stored if I need to stay indoors for a while.

BTW People staying have now started referring to their apartments in Tokyo as bunkers. Funny but accurate. Saving electricity is a priority so spent the night at my friends brand new super delux (latest earthquake technology installed) bunker in Shinjuku Yanagicho.

During the two level 4 aftershocks last night the apartment swayed like a baby's cradle and have to say I slept like I was in one.

At work early today, but to save electricity we get to finish as soon as the days jobs are jobbed which is great. Staying at the delux bunker again tonight to save electricity. Lucky me. Trying to decide which restaurant I am going to eat at tonight.

I hope that everything will settle down soon. I am looking forward to the possibility of working a volunteer in the earthquake area. I used to live very close to there for 4 years so would love the opportunity to give something back and help out. To start with being fluent in Tohoku Dialect as well as standard Japanese will be of help.

Hope everyone is ok and comes back soon


Soon after Alice's message went out to the group, Janine, another Tokyo Netball'er I know, replied to say that she too had decided to remain in Tokyo with her husband:

"Thank you Alice...It gives me so much strength to hear from the "stayers"...We have been having sleep-overs with my husband's parents to save electricity, and give each other moral support, and have also been supporting the few friends who also decided to stay by providing red wine and great meals... And We have been donating goods, money and blood for the people in the north who have suffered the greatest. We are trying really hard to get back to normal now to send the right message of solidarity, and to reduce the impact of the psychological stress from the media."

And then Tari chimed in (yes, I also met her on the netball court, and she is lovely too-- we shared the position of Wing Defense in the Japan national championships of 2009), noting that many multinational offices have employees working from home, or have closed their offices altogether for a few days. "If you have the time off and means to leave, do not be stressed out, please do go," she writes. "But there is really nothing wrong for sticking around either. To save energy, my office decided to switch off the lights and heater and we are all working in our coats and off the computer monitor's light. We leave the office as soon as the day's job done and when the sun sets. At home I decided that this is the best time than ever for exercising as much as I can. It's highly recommended! That way I am actually very warm (at some point, HOT!) with no need for heater and use only one light. The kickboxing gym that I frequent is also open, with only 2 lights on. So I go there for a couple of hours for 3 days already this week."

Tari also forwarded this message from an American friend who also happens to be a nuclear engineer:

I have not commented on what is happening in Fukushima because there is just so many conflicting reports and basically just bad information being sent out. So, as a friend I will offer you my personal advice on everything....I hope you will take it as the expert opinion of one friend talking to another and only that...I have spent my entire career studying Radiation and the biological effects...that being said this is my professional advice to you in Tokyo....stay out of the is simple as that. I am not saying that the rain is dangerous but to be safe stay out of it if you can.

I also hear that a lot of people are buying salt or salt substitutes...please do not take them....there is no reason for you in Tokyo to be trying to ablate your thyroid gland with potassium iodide where you live...that should only be used in emergency situations and being in Tokyo it is not needed and may do more harm than good to you. I will not kid you, what is happening there in Fukushma is serious, but living in Tokyo there is no reason to be scared right now.

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