Sunday 20 March 2011

Day Ten

Hi Folks
More people following me. More friends from my past. And friends of friends too. Good to see your names up there. Thank you.

Though there is still concern with a build up of pressure in Unit 3, the news from the reactor is generally good. Units 5 and 6 which store spent-fuel rods are safely cooled to almost normal temperature. The core in Unit 3 which was hosed with seawater by the Self Defence Forces for an hour  and then by the Tokyo Fire Brigade for 13 hours is now covered and they are to work on Unit 4 next. An electric power line has been laid to Unit 2 (the only one with the building still intact) but has not been connected yet.

The Mayor of Koriyama is calling for all the reactors to be closed down for good. Someone told me that the injection of  seawater meant that they would never go back to active service and  that was the reason for the delay. Tokyo Electric were dragging their feet and that is why Prime Minister Kan spent 3 hours shouting at them on the first day. I hasten to add that I have no idea if this information is correct. It was then Kan who contacted the Governor of Tokyo to get their state of the art fire engines in. These machines are remarkable and can hose the water by remote control so there is no danger of radiation to personnel. They were scheduled to hose for 7 hours yesterday but carried on into the night for 13 hours.

I'm not a great one for the military but I have to say the sight of personnel in lead-lined jackets and gas masks going into the reactors, tanks made to operate in chemical warfare, is reassuring. It's not something you think about normally but it's good to know that someone is preparing for the unthinkable and ready to protect us. And suddenly we have bridges appearing all over the place. Temporary bridges rolled out by the Self Defence Force. So even in all the panic when it seemed nothing was happening, things were being done. It's probably a good idea for the military to get some practice at hotspots around the world. Whether they should be in Libya is another thing altogether. After so much human misery here caused by a natural disaster it seems wrong to go in with guns blazing. Is there no way to solve this diplomatically?

I was interviewed twice yesterday by the BBC. One question stumped me. I was asked how the Japanese people were reacting. I wanted to say 'gamanzuyoi' but I didn't know how to say it in English! Resilient? Uncomplaining? Mary Helen, an American friend of mine and long term resident here, said she thought Americans would be more noisy, there would be more complaining, perhaps more swearing. Yes, the people, especially here in the north, don't make a fuss although if they do have something to say they say it clearly as we have seen with those stranded in the 30 km zone. And they will rebuild the country - with everyone's help. Traditionally obligations in Japanese society were very clearly defined. Even when I first came here you would hear stories of no one helping someone in a road accident because they were a stranger. That all changed with the Kobe earthquake when people started to volunteer to help people they didn't know. Now, according to what I hear on the radio and TV,  the whole country is wanting to help. The most common way of helping right now is by economising on electricity and not buying up precious supplies of petrol and food, but people are offering the use of their houses, toilets, baths and many more have plans for helping people in all manner of ways when things have settled down a bit more.

The radio was reading out messages of support from people all over the world and it brought tears to my eyes and must have been incredibly moving for those suffering in the north.

We battle on. The aftershocks continue. Two about six this morning, and two bad ones in the day. By bad, I mean 4 on the Richter scale. Bad enough for you to grab your helmet and head for the exit, although they have been short.  I stopped in at the Seven Eleven this morning. They had a some rice balls (o-nigiri) rationed to two per person, a few lunchboxes (one per person) and a few sweet bread rolls (two per person). Nothing else on the shelves. Still no petrol.

Thanks for your support.


  1. Anne,

    Thanks so much for doing this blog - great to know you're OK and fascinating reading. All the very best and let us know if we can help in any way love Becky and Reg x

  2. More suggestions for gamanzuyoi - endurance? stoicism? Muzukashii ne. Reiko x

  3. Ann

    The U. S. Armed Forces tried to offer the chemical to cool down the troubled nuclear power stations very early stage. Prime Minister Kan and his staff stupidly refused to accept it as the power stations would not be usable again.

    Kan shouted at Tokyo Electric for over 3 hours many days later for a performance.

    Even the Emperor offered and is economising electricity for a few hours a day in Palace. The Emperor and Empress refused to move out Tokyo when the staff had suggested them early on.