It’s been 9 years, 3 months and 19 days since I landed in Tokyo, a little bleary-eyed but eager to see what the Land of the Rising Sun would hold for me. The plan was to stay here a couple of years and then go back to England and start a career in my real […]
Posts Tagged ‘earthquake’
On Saturday it will be 3 months since the Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck Japan and caused the ongoing nuclear crisis in the country. A huge amount of donations were received from all over the world to help with relief efforts so I thought you might like to see how some of your hard-earned and well-intentioned money has been spent. The Japan Today website posted up this picture of the results of all of our donations and how they have helped one particular family.
It’s the situation that quite a few people (including your eternally cynical narrator) kid of expected. Yup, they still living in a cardboard box inside an “evacuation centre” (see school gym or similar). 251 billion Yen was received (around USD$3bn) and under a third of that has been spent so far. The rest is being withheld until discussions have been made about how best to spend the rest.
Seems that the government has more pressing things on their mind though, as it’s time for the annual ousting of the Prime Minister and a new, old face being brought in. Kan became PM in june of 2010 and so it’s natural and par for the course that he’d lose his job on or around the 12-month mark. So a no-confidence vote was held earlier this week. He survived the vote but has said he will step down. He wants to remain in power for a little longer though (reports have said until the end of June or the end of August) and then he will hand over the poisoned chalice. It looks like the frontrunner for your Japanese PM for summer 2011-2012 will be Yoshihiko Noda (pictured right), the current finance minister.
So obviously there is no time to discuss victims of one of the worst natural disasters to have struck the country when there’s a chance for someone in the old boys club to become PM for a year. This might be too maverick for some (did I really just use that term? My English is getting worse every day, I swear), but how about stopping the discussions about when the current face of the party is going to change for another 50-something face who’ll just follow the party lines, and start helping people who’ve lost everything because of this? Won’t hold my breath waiting for an answer on that one.
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.
This morning at 5:31am there was a huge earthquake which struck 80km east of Naha, and around 29km underground. It was classified as a magnitude 7 quake and was easily the strongest I’ve experienced in my 5 and a half years here in Okinawa. Put it this way: I have never before considered hightailing out of my apartment and getting to somewhere open. Given my position in Okinawa on the southeast coast, I was probably one of the closest to the epicentre of it, too.
Woke up with my phone going off making a strange noise (which I later found out to be the earthquake alert). Seconds later the apartment started shaking violently. This was accompanied by a roaring noise which sounded like a bulldozer was passing by or something of that nature, but the shaking that came with it was too strong for that. I sat up immediately and for a few seconds was ready to grab my dressing gown and getting out. Things fell of my shelves as the seconds ticked by, and it seemed to go on for an age. In fact, the violent shaking lasted around 40 seconds with the earthquake continuing for over a minute I would guess. Eventually it died down and all became quiet again. I checked out the apartment to look for damage to the apartment and to do a little cleaning up.
There was a tsunami warning issued for coastline areas, but nothing on the village PA system was broadcast so I just stayed up watching the NHK reports for a little while. There are only a few reports of minor injuries I think and only a little damage has been sustained (mainly ruptured water pipes). Need to check in with people today to make sure everyone’s ok, but I wanted to check in on here first.
Take care folks, and let me know if you were in Okinawa and what your experiences of it were. Personally, I don’t want another one of those in a hurry.