Friday, July 8, 2011

Making a tough decision after the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami and the radiation fears

I have been living in Japan for 25 years and have experienced many earthquakes but they were nothing like the one I felt on Friday, March 11. I was in the office on the eleventh floor. Japanese are normally used to  earthquakes so when the shaking started everyone was casual. Earthquakes normally pass quickly but this time the shaking only increased. I clearly remember the moment when we all looked at each other in panic and then began to hide under the tables. With my long legs I was struggling to get fit under the table but still wasn’t easy. At one time I stood up and looked around the office but could not see anyone, they were all under tables.
The quake lasted about two minutes and came in two waves: A strong, rocking rumble, followed by something that felt like the floor being jerked violently back and forth. I became scared and confused because my mind went on my daughter who had taken the bullet train from Tokyo to Sendai. I knew she would be in the bulet train the time the quake happened.
Finally, when everything stopped, we turned on the TV in the office and the news unfolded was tsunami sweeping houses along the costline in the Tohoku region.
Luckily no one in my family nor the Ghanaians in Miyagi prefecture was hurt, and there was very little damage. But the catastrophe, for us, had just begun.

News of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant unfolded and it wasn't good. For days, no one knew how far the damage would go, and how long the situation would last. There were so many rumors and a lot of people didn't know what to do. The conclusion for most of our friends was to leave Japan. Any call we got the message was simply “we’re living”.

Some of our friends attempted to leave Sendai by car through Yamagata to the western part of Japan. The situation in Sendai wasn’t the best so my son-in-law who is leaving in Nagoya drove from Nagoya to pick my wife and daughter including our pet (dog) to Nagoya.
The radiation problems was posing a serious problem and threatening. At one time the only option was to make a decision to send my three daughters who are pregrant to leave Japan for the US. But my wife had more faith to cool the tempo down by asking us to hold on for awhile and see if the situation would improve.
I visited Ghana briefly for my mum’s one-year anniversary. When I got to Kotoka International Airport (Accra) and pulled out my Japanese passport at the immigration, the lady at the counter quickly shouted “Eiii wofi Japan?” “are you coming from Japan” ? Ka wo ho ko fie, won nyinara woo kwen wo” meaning hurry up and go home they are all waiting for you to celebrate. The immigration staffs were so happy to see me back home from Japan.
The danger has not passed yet but home is where my family is so I have returned to Japan hoping that the Lord will have favor and protect us for these natural disasters.

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