Japan quake -Report 4

<March 31-April 7>


I am in Tokyo. The new academic year started April 1st .

The start of lectures was postponed for two weeks, but students underwent selection of seminars.


I had an informal seminar with students; some are new, some are old.

We shared our experiences since 3.11 with each other.

Some had really scary experiences, such as being at the Shinjuku station of the subway Oedo-line, which is at the very deep bottom of underground. She thought she would die or become like a miner in the Chile accident.

Some are originally from Fukushima and their parents still live there. Parents do not leave their hometown, but they tell my student not to visit them, as the student is young and may have a baby in her future. So sad.

I know this nuclear plant damage is a global issue, but I am afraid that Fukushima will become stigmatized and people from Fukushima wil get discriminated against not only in Japan but also in the world.


I started to update my blog more often in Japanese. I can provide useful information for mental health and other issues. Also, by writing, I can keep my head clear. I had underestimated the power of language, but now I think my writing and thoughts could provide a little place for some people to relax, rest, reorient and rethink.


When I returned to Tokyo, I was surprised that people are having a more or less "normal" life.

People walk outside without masks or hats; students and kids play sports outside.

Trains are crowded but people are commuting as it was before 3.11. Still, aftershocks are coming almost everyday but everyone seems to be used to them.

Is it a huge "denial" or "numbness"? Yes and No. When I talk with individuals it is clear that many of them are anxious, but try not to show it and not think about negative things, especially things they have no control over.


The election of the Tokyo Metropolitan Governer is on April 10.

Most candidates are so unattractive, even offensive.

This disaster crisis is a big chance for change of the society, but are these people our only options?


I happened to watch the documentary film "Into the Arms of Strangers", which is about Jewish children sent to England during WWII.

While watching it, I thought about myself or my children becoming refugees. I had thought about it before but now more seriously. What choice would I make? Try to send only the children while I stay in imminent danger, or try to escape together? To where would I try to escape? What would I bring with me if only limited belongings are allowed? After 3.11, many of my friends throughout the world offered me a place to live. It was really heart warming. My students told me that they had similar offers.

Realistically, If I really have to escape my country and if I can afford to choose where to go, I would try to go somewhere I can have a job, so I would not be dependent of someone's good will. Good will and a warm offer is nice, but if you think about the long term, being self-sufficient is so important. This imagining exercise made me reorient my thinking about the people in directly affected areas. We need to help them to be able to help themselves.