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メガ津波から二週間


 3月11日に起きた東北関東大震災から二週間以上経過しました。この間、テレビの報道に釘づけになった人も多かったと思います。

 今回の震災は世界中からも注目されました。当然のことです。歴史に残る悲惨な状況です。マグニチュード9.0という巨大地震の発生、それに伴う巨大津波の怖さ、そして数多くの死者と避難民の発生、その深刻さが映像を通じて瞬時に伝わりました。

 さらには福島原発事故が加わります。まさしくトリプル災害の発生です。世界中のメデイアがトップニュースとして連日報道を続けました。

 未曽有の災害に対する政府の期待も高まりますが、その実行力に不安を感じている国民を多いのではないでしょうか。政府の発表に関して、そのタイミングや内容に対し、マスコミによる批判も多く聞かれました。「もっと正確な情報をタイムリーに国民に開示、知らせるべきだ」といったものです。

海外の友人の反応

 今回の震災に海外の人々、とりわけ日本に住んだことがある、あるいは日本人の友人がいる人達の関心度は大変高いものです。

 私達夫婦のもとにも、早く日本を脱出して自分たちの家に来るようにといったメールも届きました。被災地の状況は映像で見ることが出来るものの、東京の実情は分かり様がないのです。

 海外の友人、知人が心配する気持ちは良く分かります。地震から2日後の3月13日、私どもからこれら友人、知人に対して一斉同報の形で、幸い我々は無事であることを伝えました。また同時に、やっと連絡が取れた相馬に住む親戚が家を流されたことも伝えました。

 するとまたメールが沢山寄せられました。皆さん、それぞれの地、立場で日本を応援するため活動を起こしたい、寄付を行ったといった激励のメールです。

海外の友人に実情を知らせる

 一つ一つのメールに返事を送ることは出来ません。一方、時間が経過するにつれて海外メデイアの報道も急激に少なっています。

 正確な情報をタイムリーに知りたいというニーズは、日本に関心ある人達にもあるのです。そこで3月25日、災害から二週間目の節目に二度目のメールを一斉同報しました。一回目は我々自身の安否を知らせることが目的でしたが、今回は私がこの災害とその後の状況についてどう感じているかを知らせることにしました。

 これから、日本は復旧、復興の段階に入っていきます。息の長い海外からの支援、応援も必要です。我々の報告を受け取った友人の数はわずかなものですが、彼らが日本の実情と復興に向けて、草の根の応援を押し広めてくれることを期待しています。

3月25日に二回目のメールを発信

Subject: Two weeks from Mega Tsunami

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all the warm messages and concern for us and the people of Japan during this time of great catastrophe.

Two weeks have passed since the earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11. Perhaps there is a limit to the amount of information and news that is reported there so we would like to give you an update from our perspective on what is happening here.

On March 11 at 2:46 pm we felt a great tremor in Tokyo. It was the biggest tremor we had ever felt. It was like being on a ship in rough seas, rocking back and forth, lasting for more than 1 minute. Until now quakes had strong shaking but this time it was rolling for a long time.

Toshi immediately put on the TV and there was a report of a large earthquake off the NE coast of Japan. It was reported that a quake of magnitude 7.9 had struck off the coast of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. The Kobe earthquake registered magnitude 7.3 so this was greater than that.

Soon after the magnitude was upgraded to 8.3 and then again to 8.8, an unprecedented level in Japan.

Within one minute after the quake was reported, a tsunami was predicted to hit and an alarm was sounded for all people along the coast to quickly evacuate to higher ground.

The hardest hit area of Miyagi, with its jagged coastline, has experienced many quakes and tsunami in the past. The residents have trained often to evacuate to higher ground in case of emergency and know the procedure.

From the data of earthquakes and tsunami for 400 years, they have maintained strong embankments that can bear a 7 meters or 23 foot high tsunami. Then a safe elevation zone for evacuation was built at 7 meters or a higher place.

But this time the tsunami was 14 meters or 46 ft high and even higher in some places. At the highest point the tsunami registered 23 meters or 70 ft high and the measuring equipment was destroyed and unable to record correctly.

The predicted tsunami was more than double the size imagined and the first tsunami arrived at 3:15 pm, 30 minutes after the quake.

In the area where the tsunami hit the quake tremor was much greater than what we felt in Tokyo. Most of the houses and buildings could withstand the power of the quake. If there had not been such a big tsunami the damages would have been far less.

As of today, the people who have died and are missing in this disaster already number over 27,000 and is expected to rise. The survivors who were able to escape to higher ground than the regular evacuation place are lucky to be alive.

The people who escaped to the upper floors of schools and hospitals were swept away. If the tsunami had only been smaller more lives could have been saved.

Two days after the quake the data was again upgraded to magnitude 9.0. If the magnitude measurement increases by 2 points, the power is multiplied by 1,000. This means this quake was 1,000 times stronger than the Kobe earthquake. It was the strongest earthquake to hit Japan in 400 years.

The 14 meters or 46 ft tsunami hit the nuclear power plants in Fukushima which were built to withstand only half as much.

At the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant along the coast four of the six reactors have been seriously damaged. The Fukushima No.2 nuclear power plant, which has four reactors, located 10km away from No.1 plant are in safe condition.

At the time of the quake the reactors were immediately shut down properly for emergency procedure.

The difference between No.1 and No.2 is that the No.2 power plant cooling system is working normally after the earthquake, but No.1 is not. The tsunami washed away the No.1 plant emergency diesel generator that runs the power plantユs cooling system.

After stopping the operation of the reactor, fuel rod heat continues. You may see on TV discharging water from a fire truck for cooling the heat. Parallel to the discharge work, wire leading to the cooling system has begun. Hopefully restarting the cooling system will be realized in the near future.

If the cooling system is activated normally, then it could escape the worst. A million thanks to those who work for fire fighting and power restoration overcoming the dangers of radioactivity.

We want to tell our American Tomodachi (Friends) all about the U.S. military relief efforts.

Immediately after the earthquake, U.S. forces in Japan at the request of the Japanese government has started the rescue operation, named "Operation Tomodachi".

Located almost in the middle of the disaster areas, Sendai airport was devastated by the tsunami and responsibility for the recovery was the work of the U.S. Marines from Okinawa. It took four days after the earthquake to use the airport and the airport can now be a base in carrying relief supplies to affected areas.

Because roads are cut of by tsunami devastation, the urgent task is to deliver relief supplies to affected areas. We all have word of thanks to U.S. military activities in this.

Atsugi base, shared by US Navy and Japan Self Defense Forces, which is located near our house in Ebina, put all their functions on supporting the earthquake victims.

The Atsugi base is running for 24 hours since the 11th and allocates full functionality of the military to disaster assistance involving some 4,000 soldiers.

Water, diapers and foods are transported from here to Sendai airport by helicopters and cargo aircrafts and also from the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier moored off the coast of Sendai.

U.S. government for nuclear accidents has been supporting us in various forms. Your thoughts to the Japanese people are well communicated. Thanks, thanks.

Finally, we will tell you about Yuriko's cousin in Soma, Fukushima.

After the tsunami washed away their house, they evacuated to their parents who live in Minami-Soma city, 10km away. But unfortunately the parent's house is located within 20 km or 12.5 miles radius of a nuclear accident evacuation area.

Yuriko's cousin and family had to evacuate again to 50 km away from there.

We proposed to them to move to Tokyo and stay with us. The distance between the place they evacuated and Tokyo is 300 km or 190 miles. Because gasoline is not available there, they had to give up on driving here.

The most serious matter is relief for people who lost their beloved family members and homeless people. Tohoku area is still cold and light snow falls. Petrol tankers can not pass as well to bring the gasoline and kerosene, and people spend cold nights without heating. People are completely without electricity, gas and water lifelines.

However, the situation has definitely improved. People in Japan and many companies continue to work hard to help them. In addition, the support by U.S. military continues.

Last night we got a call from Yuriko's cousin, she told us they will come and stay in Tokyo this coming Sunday. We will welcome them warmly.

Sometime later, we will be able to report on activities for reconstruction and rebirth activities.

We have more things to tell you, but this is all for now.

Again, Thank you for your concerns and emails received from everybody.

Toshi & Yuriko

March 25, 2011



2011.3.28  木下 利信