As the concerns over the nuclear plants become even more grave, we have decided to take little Woody to Oregon to breathe some fresh air. The levels of radiation in Tokyo are by no means high enough to cause harm to humans--they are in fact way lower than the amount transferred on a long haul flight--but, the situation is worsening and nothing seems to be secure. We've been keeping him safe in the house for the last few days to prevent his little developing lungs from being exposed. I'm going stir crazy.
The US government finally came through with an emergency passport for Woody. Our sister-in-law, Claudia, was able to make some connections from her work at government offices in D.C. to get us bumped up on the list. We'll be leaving for Oregon on Saturday. James is coming until his spring break is over and I'll be there with the little babe through April 22nd, or until things settle down.
James's brother, Gary, sent this photo to us from Narita airport this morning. They visited for 3 days--shortest trip ever!--before deciding to return home because it was a difficult time to be a tourist in Tokyo. Looks like long lines will be greeting us on Saturday.
In 5 years of living overseas, we've never had to depend on the US embassy for any kind of support. Through this entire situation what has become transparent is how politics and diplomacy plays a role in a crisis like this. Many Americans live in Japan and rely on the embassy for information in English when a situation like this occurs. We'd like to believe that our safety is their number one concern, as the ambassador has stated in numerous press releases, but the truth is, we know that politics is more important. Japan and America have a strong relationship and the US government can't afford to put it in jeopardy. To recommend the evacuation of US citizens living in Tokyo, like many European embassies have done, would undermine the Japanese authority. All week, statements from the embassy only say that we should heed the advisories of the Japanese government, giving little more advice or information about what to do. However, it became clear that the situation was more dangerous than we have been hearing when we learned that the US has recommended the evacuation zone be moved to 50-75 km radius around the nuclear plants and that the navy will begin testing radiation levels across Japan. It's a sign that they are carefully stepping around the Japanese government and taking matters into their own hands.
We feel a sense of sadness and disloyalty by leaving Japan. All the Japanese office and support staff at our school are still there. In a way, they have also become like family to us. They aren't leaving, but they have watched the entire international community flee. That spreads fear among them where maybe there doesn't need to be fear. We pray that they will be safe in the coming weeks.