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Japan Earthquake (1) Quick Overview

Just a quick entry on the current situation in Japan. As you already know, the 9.0 magnitude quake and the tsunami hit Japan on 11th March. The aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan has been providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance from 13th; and numerous rescue and support teams have also been dispatched from the EU. According to EU Ambassador Schweisgut, “the EU activated on 15 March its civil protection coordination mechanism in response to the Japanese government’s request for supply in kind of such importance relief items as mattresses, blankets and tents”.

Life in Tokyo has greatly changed following this disaster. Planned blackouts in Kanto area (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Yamanashi, Shizuoka) started from 15th to save energy, and there are some restrictions in transportation; and food shortage in supermarkets. In my hometown, south of Tokyo, people have been rushing to supermarkets to prepare for afterquakes, and even entry has been restricted during the day – once 5 people come out, 5 new customers can come in etc. and there are long ques both in front of the entrance and at the cashier.

The current issue of Fukushima nuclear power plants is another concern as a human disaster. Whilst the Japanese media has been announcing that radiation threat in Tokyo area is and will be trivial, Western research has been voicing serious concerns. This makes me personally uneasy since I am planning to go back to Japan for fieldwork from April for two months and a half. However, my friends in disaster area have been surprisingly calm, and they say “Pray for Japan” campaign has been making them feel stronger. Planned blackouts will most probably last until the end of April; and the whole situation is supposed to last until summer. Although nothing is certain under this situation, I really wish Japan can recover as quickly as possible.

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