A week ago, Japan was hit by the worst recorded earthquake in the country’s history. It and the resulting tsunami that followed have killed thousands and caused suffering to thousands more, as well as destroying infrastructure that threatens the well-being of the entire country. The situation at the damaged Fukushima reactors is grave.
It is not, however, as dire as many international media reports are making it out to be. The radiation escaping from the fuel rods at the plant is a highly local phenomenon, and outside the radius currently set for evacuation, radiation levels are at or near normal. Millions of people living in Tokyo and the surrounding areas are carrying on their lives as normally as possible, myself included.
Based on the information available, I’ve made the decision for now to stay put. If the situation worsens I’m preparing to evacuate, but right now that’s such a hypothetical scenario that it doesn’t seem prudent. I’m basing this on information from the following sources, which will hopefully provide some consolation for those who may have heard the threat overstated:
- Matt Alt on Twitter
- Roy Berman on Twitter
- Hiroko Tabuchi on Twitter
- Tokyo Geiger counter live feed
- Gunma Prefecture hourly Geiger counter updates
- US Embassy in Japan
- BBC News coverage
The overall message to take away right now is that the situation in and around Fukushima is still highly volatile and uncertain, but its effect is contained. Levels are being constantly monitored in Tokyo and show no sign for concern. Japan needs help – but that help should, and will, properly go to the affected areas in the north, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced with little food and water and it is still very cold in this early spring.
If you would like to help, or for additional information on the situation and the actual relief needs of the Japanese people, the Google collected resources page for the crisis is a good place to start.
For lovers of Japan and its culture, we’re all in this together.
Follow @heiseidemocracy on Twitter for (more) regular updates from Japan.