I got a phone call today from the British Embassy reminding me that they are recommending British nationals within an 80 km radius of the reactor to leave (Koriyama is 56 km away). I asked why when the Japanese government recommends shelter up to a radius of only 30 km and was referred to their website which merely states that it is a precautionary measure and in line with US recommendations. If only life was so simple! I run a business with 100 staff and after a bit of bother last year with a dishonest employee, I am the sole guardian of the company seals: without me, no cheques would be stamped, no official documents would be authorised. Unfortunately, I can't jump ship.
But the embassy are going to send me some iodine pills. I've been looking at the instructions. You only get enough for two doses and a dose only lasts 24 hours so you haven't to waste them. You have to wait until the 'black plume' of radiation gets near. I'm old enough to remember the Cold War and the instructions we were given in case of a nuclear bomb. You were supposed to turn the understairs cupboard into a shelter, line it with tin-foil and stay there for two weeks. How a family was supposed to breathe for two weeks in such a small place I don't know. A while back such reminiscences would have been comical. No laughing matter now. But I thought this was not supposed to be a Chernobyl style meltdown, that worst case scenario would be a gradual contamination of the soil (which is certainly happening). If someone can enlighten me I would be very grateful. In the meantime, I'll hang onto the pills.
The news from the reactor goes from bad to worse. The water they dumped last night is drifting south along the coast and not dispersing as expected. The Koreans are angry that it was dumped at night and without warning.The fisherman are devastated. The TV shows diagrams of the food chain which for once are not at all reassuring. The plankton, seaweed and little fish near the shore are going to be contaminated and then they're going to be eaten by bigger fish which in several months time could show levels of caesium 100 times normal (caesium is the bad one that takes 30 years to disintegrate).
Proofs of my new book, Conversational Japanese: the right word at the right time have just arrived and Tuttle, the publishers, want to go to press on April 18th. Yikes! Since I am by training a linguist, I thought I'd finish today, for those of you who are interested, with some of the current words and phrases being used in this crisis.Love to you all
First, the earthquake:
(Note: I don't know how to do macrons on this blog so long vowels are marked either with an extra vowel or with an 'h')
東日本大震災 Higashi Nihon Daishinsai The Great East Japan Earthquake (the name changed three times. This is the final official version)
地震 jishin earthquake
津波 tsunami (no translation needed)
震災 shinsai earthquake disaster (this is used a lot, for example: 震災から初めて買物へ行った shinsai kara hajimete kaimono e itta I went shopping for the first time since the quake)
余震 yoshin aftershock(s)
断水 dansui no water supply
停電 teiden power cut
避難所 hinanjo evacuation centre
被災地 hisaichi area affected by the disaster
救援物資 kyuuen busshi relief supplies
日赤 Nisseki The Japanese Red Cross (contraction of Nihon Seki Juuji)
仮設住宅 kasetsu juutaku temporary housing
運行、運休 unkoh, unkyuu These are the words used to tell you if the trains are running. Unkoh means they are running. Unkyuu means the service is suspended.
Next, the nuclear disaster:
原発 genpatsu nuclear power station (contraction of 原子力発電所 genshiroku hatsudensho)
福島原発事故 Fukushima genpatsu jiko accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station
東電 Tohden Tokyo Electric (abbreviation of Tokyo Denryoku, usually appears in English press as Tepco)
原子炉 genshiro reactor
冷却水 reikyakusui water for cooling
放射能 hohshanoh radiation
避難地域 hinan chiiki evacuation area
屋内退避地域 okunai taihi chiiki area where you should remain indoors, shelter
土壌汚染 dojoh ohsen contamination of the soil
And finally, a really nice word:
心のケア kokoro no kea literally, 'care of the heart', it's an all purpose word with a very wide application ranging from holding a child's hand, to listening to someone's problems, to professional counselling.