Japan is struggling to cope.
It has been five days since the massive earthquake of a magnitude of 9.0 on the RS or 7 on the Japanese scale that struck us here in Japan. Since then many smaller aftershocks where felt some of which where strong enough by them self.
Their epicentre is changing even though most after shocks are still coming from the original epicentre many strong aftershocks are now being emitted in the kanto Chiba area.
This is viewed by some of the experts as a sign that we may witness another major earthquake such as the 1923 earthquake that devastated Tokyo.
However, this does not seem to be the main worry for most here at the moment, since we are already dealing with food shortages and gas stations are still out of gas leaving many stranded.
Furthermore, it is still winter and even for those that still have a house or apartment to call their own, it is difficult to stay warm when there is no gas or fuel available any longer and when electricity is scarce as well. Especially in the rural areas where outages are more frequent then they are in the larger cities.
We just got electricity back three days ago in our area and this only for a couple of hours every day. Many areas do not even have a few hours of power though.
Rice is still around, but it is impossible to buy bread milk or other foods we once took for granted. Still, even when one has rice, it can be difficult to cook this with out stoves, fuel, or electricity.
Most are living on the edge of what they can handle, especially emotionally. The main fear is our nuclear power plant that seems to become a hopeless cause, the news from that one seems to get worth by the day, to the point that the Prime Minister made an announcement, advising all to remain indoors and to avoid outside air or rain in order to minimise radiation exposure. The government handed out Potash Iodine pills to those closest to the nuclear power plant, trying to combat the negative effects of radiation poisoning. It shows the helplessness of government and experts who try to keep all calm and want to avoid to create panic which may make things even worth.
But all know here that this may end up getting a lot worth then the initial earthquake and tsunami where. Still, even though nervous and stressed most try their out-most to remain calm and serene in order to keep the children hopeful and ease their fears.
For the past two day all the school could give their students for lunch was some pudding and a piece of processed cheese with a 200 ml carton of milk. Food has to be rationed now and many get nothing more then a small boll of rice with some bouillon to warm them up.
The things we where all so accustomed to, now seem to be a thing of the past and many are realising that things will never be the way they where before the earthquake of March 11 of this year.
News came that the government can no longer control the nuclear power station and that they will abandon it now, still poring water on it in hope to reduce the radiation some what.
A colleague approached me today, asking if we will still be around next week, I was some what cough of guard and just said "If not, we shall meet again in the next life and remember this one, so we may learn from our mistakes, if there is a next life that is."
The kids and teens are getting restless and some have trouble dealing with the situation at hand, which is comprehensible.
Still, I do admire the Japanese serenity which most maintain no matter the severity of the situation or the devastation they have to deal with.
I suppose all the drills and disciplinary lessons as well as the moral education every Japanese receives through out their school education and even in university do pay off in such a crisis.
So what next? No one knows for certain, but we expect the radiation to rise and we may have to face another important earthquake with in the next few days.
Many foreigners are on their way out since their respective Embassies have started to evacuate their expatriates from Japan.
Even though the Japanese understand and are sympathetic, it certainly does not comfort those that are stuck here.
I believe for my part that running is useless and that we have to do our best to help each other in this crisis what ever may be. This is especially important for those that have already lost everything and find them self totally helpless in this disaster.
All hope that they wont be another explosion at the nuclear power plant and that we wont have to deal with another Chernobyl. Still, we will have to deal with the radiation and the closer one lives to the plant the worth they will be off. Why people should be evacuated as far away from the plant as possible and the radius needs to be extended to at least a 100 km, this however, will be difficult to accomplish in light of the devastation the earthquake has caused and the lack of gasoline we have as well as the restricted electricity, all this makes the transportation of large numbers of people even more difficult then it would be if all infrastructures where operational and even if we would not face a shortage of fuel or electricity we would have a hard time evacuating people far enough from the power plant to be considered safe.
All know the reality of the situation and know that they wont be able to get out, nor avoid what ever may happen. In stead they all face their faith as they have been thought to do, with honour and serenity. One can sense the fear and worries in many, still they smile and remain polite and courteous. Some thing to learn from.
Wile I wrote the previous paragraph, another more serious earthquake hits us, with a magnitude of 6 on the RS.
or 5 lower on the Japanese scale.
The radio is on all day and every one hopes to hear some good news and maybe some good news will come after all. In the mean time the announcements about the radioactivity have changed from Micro-severs to mili-severs, it does sound some how better even if it ends up being higher in reality, maybe most wont notice that the 1000 micro-severs the government talked about on Saturday are now 1000 mili-severs of radiation emitted. It is all in the way it is presented, a 1000 ml sounds more or worth then 10 litres of poison.
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Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines