I love Japan and decided to stay here with my Japanese wife and our kids. When Fukushima disaster stroke and many expats left in a panic, we resisted the urge to follow the crowd as we felt reasonably secure in the western Japan, and OK to visit Tokyo for a short stay. This may not be true anymore – anywhere in Japan. Newspapers, TV and websites are ever more censored, propaganda is in full fledge that “Japan is safe, we must economically support the stricken regions”. Just as in times of war, information is hard to get by and rumors must be judged on account of verisimilitude. It is a dangerous exercise and I don’t pretend to have the truth: I’m just trying to survive as long as reasonably possible here and your help in sharing information is welcome. I’d appreciate my friends to keep my anonymity as I might lose my right to stay in Japan – and I guarantee to keep yours.

  1. Mikkai says:

    Thank you for your invite.

  2. uhohjapan2 says:

    My thoughts exactly.

    Hang in there, SJ.

  3. I just found this site and will have to look through it carefully. I live in western Japan too and share your feelings. I was ready to go in March or April, but then decided to stay as Western Japan seemed out of harms way, but the food and waste burning situation is threatening to bring the contamination here. I’m filling in my e-mail address so I can post this. I’d be happy if you could e-mail me as I’m curious where you live. Also, please feel free to check out my youtube videos about Fukushima related issues, my most recent one was about food contamination.

    Thanks for your hard work.


    William Milberry

    • Thanks for contacting me William, I share your concern for the same reasons which is why of course I started this blog. We’ll be in touch however I’m keeping anonymity for the moment. With your permission, I’ll use any material relevant in your YouTube channel for this blog in which you can easily find posts on the same topic by clicking on tags I think (like “food”). Peace.

      • lriii says:

        I thank both of you for you efforts to educate us on this catastrophy,It is hard to get facts here in US… more important stuff on TV (sarcasm) but true, people think I am wacko for being concerned…cannot help it… was within about 5 miles away from TMI 1979…

  4. A.H. says:

    I was an expat parent living in western Japan. I left in March with the kids, just after the nuclear accident, on a quickly made decision while ticket prices were skyrocketing. My spouse remained in Japan. I returned in late April, thinking it was safe, only to leave again 5 months later in frustration over the denial/”head in sand” mentality that was so pervasive. I want to return to Japan again, but reading your blog reminds me of what I’d face, and it doesn’t sound like things have gotten any easier. I hope you are surrounded by supportive people and that you have a good Geiger counter!

    • I hope that your family now lives together in a safer place. Sorry for the bad news, but I confirm that things haven’t gotten easier, especially since Japan stated that the accident is over and that business resumes as usual – which is of course the epitome of the “denial/head in sand mentality” that you describe. As of January 2012, the situation is as follows:

      – Fukushima is out of control, still emitting radioactive material recorded as far as Yokohama and reactors can blow up again anytime (nuclear criticality, not only hydrogen explosion). Apparently, the corium leaked as through a colander instead of a big lump. Hard to know if it’s a good or bad news, but it could mean that it spread instead of boring deep, which would be better in order to avoid the water table.

      – Contaminated food spread over all Japan (down to Okinawa farthest islands) is the new normal. A false sense of security is given by a PR campaign of radiation screening. About 8 percent (one person in twelve) of mothers in Fukushima left for good and I believe this is about the same proportion of people who are somehow careful about their food around me. However, even less are efficient in their screening as shown by the number of children who test positive with Cesium in their urine. I suppose that until enough farmers drop dead from eating their own products, this will go on – this, or the crumbling of the subsidy system from a combination of TPP / overindebted government.

      – Radioactive waste incineration is still planned but some scandals about its cost may derail it as media pick up on the growing public dissension and now investigate/report about such practices after months of echoing the government propaganda. Actually, the government will probably not finish this fiscal year and new elections could change the game once again.

      – Business is terrible, with 70% of execs forecasting a flat year at best and real unemployment rampant. Expats are either in denial/workholic oblivion or preparing their exit strategy. Some already left in a hurry like you did, some refused to take an open position and never arrived, some with local contracts were fired and given a return ticket to their home country as companies cut costs and retain only Japanese staff. Not to say that the situation is better in the US, China or Europe – everybody braces for a hard landing this year, it just depends where you want to be when the crash occurs (and what you want to eat then). On a more positive note, there seems to be quite a few openings in Tokyo in technology (local, non-expat contracts) – and the healthcare sector especially towards the elderly should be successful (not to mention all the new “non-radiation related” disorders such as mycoplasma pneumonia, leukemia, miscarriage, etc.).

      – Social life is also terrible, not many supportive people as far as I am concerned either in my company, family or friends: either people don’t understand or they don’t want to know (radiation is a taboo). Living in Japan and facing the reality feels like being in a strange cult these days, not eating the same as everyone and hence living in a kind of apartheid with a few fellows. Eating/drinking out is staking a few years of life as is accepting food/drink gifts and making dietary exceptions feels awful, especially when children are involved.

      – Doctors refuse to even consider the possibility of contamination, wherever you live. My pediatrician laughed in my face when I told him my child had vision blackout (actually probably some conjunctivitis disorder but another child of mine had sudden, unexplained diplopia in months following 311). You can read accounts of doctors saying that “Japanese cannot have thyroid disorders since they eat seaweed”, etc. The whole society is guilty in my book, not only politicians and utilities.

      I don’t have a Geiger counter, although I did mention that it would make for a nice birthday present to my family overseas… Fortunately, I can borrow one from time to time and the place where I live does not really require one (I personnally made sure of it). Geiger counters are expensive, delays are several months and screening food is more efficient (and also expensive as most I eat is imported or organic food from Kyushu, etc. – like crazy 800 yens butter for instance…).

      I would therefore recommend staying away from Japan until a revolution takes place as Fukushima is more a nation-wide political crisis than anything else these days – but we know it won’t happen so we can forget about Japan for a century (there will still be about 10 percent of Cesium left by then). Also, I recommend monitoring radiation outside of Japan since I discovered that many places (US, Canada, Europe, Australia) are far from being clean from that point of view: if you live in a country with or near nuclear power plants and/or uranium ore mining, and/or near past nuclear weapon test, you can be sure that you got some in your plate.

      Happy New Year, Brave New World!

      • A.H. says:

        Our family is still separated. It’s the most difficult situation I’ve been in. The kids and I are staying with my family west of the Cascades. The awareness here is even less than in Japan. People just can’t be bothered with it. At least I can worry less about severe food contamination now. In Japan I ate foods from Chiba, Ibaraki and Tochigi after being assured they were safe, but I felt unsually fatigued after doing so and woke up with backaches that I’ve never had before or since. It could possibly have been mislabeled Australian beef, but I don’t think so.

        It sounds like things in Japan are still getting worse. Food was by far my biggest concern there. I wouldn’t want to live there again without a Geiger counter. They can do more than I thought to test food using long count periods. Eating out or at people’s houses is the main unavoidable risk in addition to the lack of timely information and warnings.

        If we go back, I’d really want to make sure I can protect the children adequately since I’m the only one responsible. My spouse is less aware of and concerned about the risks, but I think it’s too big of a danger to make a mistake about…. no matter what I should err on the side of caution, and sometimes I have no idea where I am on the spectrum of needless worry or taking insane risks.

  5. I’m in a similar situation as you – a foreigner living and working in Japan with a Japanese wife and children. I suppose I am testing the limits of free speech in Japan by deciding not to be anonymous on my anti-nuclear blog. So far I’ve been at it for seven months and the authorities don’t seem to care.

    • Hi Dennis, thank you for making yourself known, I’ll check your blog more in details when I’ll have time. I agree that the nuclear parenthesis was mistakenly interpreted as “progress” and will hopefully be closed before we are extinct. Regarding anonymity, I respect your courageous choice and there are also other threats to keep in mind, such as losing your job, being ostracized in your local community and being harrassed or even murdered by the yakuza. They are present in every economic sector, apparently including as subcontractors to immigration services in airports:

      The Economist: “Japan’s immigration control : Gulag for gaijin”

  6. Nagoya Yamaguchi says:

    When I have time I post Geiger readings on my new blog. Information is important.

  7. D. Ikeda says:

    Wondering if you are still in Japan? Just found this website.

    • Nope. It is impossible now to control which food our kids eat and drink so Japan has become too dangerous a place to live with them. Politics have also gone back to ultra-nationalism, so it is less than ever a place for foreigners. Business is ugly, Japan is importing more electronics than it exports for the first time in its history, another dismaying record broken. It seems these days the only thing that goes for Japan is the Nikkei: a good place for childless traders, whom by nature embrace risk, before the bubble explodes (again). I hope that you could find some interesting food for thought on this blog. Happy new nuclear-free (?) year to all !

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