Those who have known me a while will know that I just about kept my body shape in control (mainly in Okinawa through sweating generally due to the heat and humidity) or because of walking so much with my car dying. It definitely wasn’t due to exercise though! But after a couple of months of being back in England […]
Archive for March, 2011
Japan has had a lot of problems in the past month. A huge earthquake and resulting tsunami, food & supply shortages from Tokyo and throughout Eastern and Northern Japan, thousands dead and many more homeless, and the continuing nuclear problems at the Fukushima plant. So what you might think are on the minds of Okinawan prefectural government officials? Maybe they are considering how they could help people up in mainland Japan? Possibly cost-cutting or electricity saving as a number of the convenience stores have pledged to help lessen Japan’s energy burden? Not quite…
“I appreciate the act of the U.S. Marine Corps in the relief effort, but the present conditions of Okinawa has nothing to do with that” stated Masaaki Maeda of Japan’s Communist Party at a meeting of the prefectural government. This special meeting was held so that officials could discuss ways in which they could bring to the fore problems and issues they have with the US military presence in Japan. The big problem for them is that foreign aid and the US military in particular have been receiving well-earned praise for their swift actions and mobilisation in support of earthquake & tsunami relief operations (known as Operation Tomodachi (meaning “friend”, I believe). So Okinawa officials are trying to bring up once again that the US planes are too loud and are increasing in frequency with some planes from mainland coming to Kadena. And also that there is an increase in accidents because of US military and SOFA-status members here (although I doubt you will ever find any figures to support this). Officials at the meetings conceded that, “We know that dealing with the earthquake disaster seems to extend to favorable support for the American military”, seemingly indicating they will increase their efforts to portray the foreign military presence in Okinawa in a bad light.
Fortunately the logic train did make a brief stop with some politicians in Okinawa. A representative of the LDP in Japan bucked the trend and statedt, “I recognize the fact concerning harm for the lives of citizens of Okinawa prefecture caused by U.S. military bases, but could we take into consideration that the U.S. Armed Forces are cooperating and helping in the Great Tohoku Earthquake relief operations?”. Am speculating here but I’m going to guess their call was met with with around 10-15 seconds of silence, before the criticisms resumed.
It is good to see everyone, whether Okinawa, Japanese or foreign, supporting Japan in any way they can. There have been many fundraising drives I’ve seen in Japan, and I can only hope all of the cash gets through to those that really need it, and doesn’t get tied up in Japanese governmental bureaucracy and mysteriously depleted before it gets to where it should be going. I forget where I read it, but somewhere I saw that the Japanese Red Cross said they would be distributing their funds in accordance with the prefectural governments according to the areas they see fit. I don’t want to quote anything there though as i could be wrong.
On another note entirely, while my imminent change in apartment within Okinawa is going to really improve the frequency of posts on this site and also increase Starbucks’s profits, it’s gonna hammer my pocket!
As you know I’m not one to usually post these type of things up, but feel I’ve got to here. The death toll is rising here in Japan as relief efforts start to get underway, and all the while the nuclear problems continue. Food in shops in areas north of Tokyo are running low, with people being asked to eat a little more conservatively to stretch their supplies a little more. And the Nikkei has lost 17% of it’s worth in the past 48 hours. Make no bones about it, this is going to take a long long time for the country to bounce back from. And strong aftershocks are still going on now.
If anyone has a few spare pennies or whatever then please donate a little to the Japanese Red Cross through the Google Crisis Response page here:
I would suggest the Japanese Red Cross page themselves but they’re being hammered at the moment. Hell, I don’t even care if you post up here if you donate something, but every little bit will help the people in Japan try to return to some sort of normality. I’m gonna be forsaking a few potential car upgrades to make a decent donation.
There’s almost blanket media coverage of the earthquake and its effects going on on other sites so I won’t even try to use up your time with updates as they will be instantly out of date as soon as they’re posted up. All I can is that the whole of Japan, even the places that haven’t felt any effects of the quake or tsunami, are saddened and in shock. Attentions are now turning to the relief efforts and other countries are just ready for Japan to give the request for assistance and they will send it. Hopefully the government will allow them to come and not repeat their stubbornness following the Kobe quake in ’95. Am also expecting that quite a few of the people in the US military here in Okinawa will be involved in humanitarian efforts up there, or at least I sincerely hope they’ll be allowed to be used and do something to help the people suffering.
The one thing I would like to share with you is how prepared Japan is for one of these big earthquakes, and mainly in the ability to give people those precious seconds to either hit the deck or get somewhere marginally safer. In the earthquake that shook Japan last year my phone just started blaring out a siren about 8-10 seconds before the quake hit so you knew what was happening. Well this Japanese guy was using an application that gives a warning and countdown for earthquakes. I can see this getting a few more downloads in the near future. The application itself can be downloaded from weathernews.jp but see how this system can give people the few moments that might prove the difference between life and death.
Overworked and underpaid! Well, that might not be the case for too much longer as there are quite a few changes on the horizon for your humble narrator. Since the start of 2010 some of you may know I have been teaching 5-6 year olds. While I don’t usually talk too much about work on here as I like to keep my professional and online identities quite separate, it has been one of the reasons behind my lack of posting. I’ve been working all through the day without being able to get time to get lunch, and usually I don’t eat breakfast on a morning. When I get in on an evening I’m getting dinner and because it’s the first and only meal of the day my body’s just wanting to crash because of it so I’ve not really had the motivation to tap away at the keyboard.
But “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” David Bowie sang and that is what might be happening for me on a number of fronts. Am changing job from April to slightly learners which is what I’m much more comfortable and effective at doing. Really looking forward to that as it’s going to give me more motivation, chance to grow professionally, and more money. The 2 latter things there come hand-in-hand; the extra money might mean I can put some money down and start an online Masters course in Education, which I probably need at this point. To continue teaching here in Japan, 7 years experience (and 10 years once I get through this future job) is great, but to really back it up you can’t beat that little piece of paper that says “Masters in Education” on it. Quite a sad state of affairs, but true. If that’s the game I’ve got to play though then that’s what I’ll do.
With the change in employment might also come a change in home. I’ll be staying within Okinawa of course, but might have to relocate to the centre of the island, closer to Chatan. While this will mean my rent will inevitably go up somewhat, it’ll mean I’m much closer to all the people I know. On the plus side, my travel costs will drop; on the negative side, my Starbucks costs will rise steeply! Should also give me an incentive to go diving this year, which I need.
Last year was a black year for me for diving, and again connected with work. I’m finishing the week with no energy at all and so on the weekend just can’t get up early and go out diving. It’s a big shame when I look back at a couple of years ago when I was in the water almost every weekend. Hopefully I can get back to that and I might just have the incentive to do that. A friend I know wants to get his Divemaster certification so I’m going to teach him that. To do that we’ve both got to spend lots of time in and around the water so I’m really looking forward to that too.
And then the final change is on the car front. A change in job and potentially location needs a change in wheels, and so I am saying goodbye to the RX-7. I’ve enjoyed driving it on the occasions it’s been out, but I just can’t justify the tax and insurance on a car that I rarely drive and don’t have the passion for that I should. I think I have found it a good home though once all the paperwork goes through. Most of you who know me know that having money like that in my pocket is burning a big hole and making me want to throw it at something. Well I may have already found it but I’ll keep you in suspense for a little while longer until everything is set in stone.
So until next time when the update might be a bit less cryptic. Thanks for keeping coming back here and seeing if I have something to talk about. Hopefully in a couple of weeks time I’ll have my energy and mojo back and will be back to my critical, cynical, diving & driving self.