Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Earthquake in Japan –Osaka Point of View

A few months have passed since the Earthquake and a LOT has happened because of it. It didn’t impact us much in Osaka in terms of damage but it has had a huge impact on the whole of Japan’s society, and I suppose you could say the Uni’s society too.

The week after it happened, the week after I wrote that last blog on the 14th it wasn’t just Italians who left. Every single day more and more people were getting messages that they were being pulled out of the program. First the Italians, and then the French and then most of the Europeans before the Americans started to go too. The thing was that although we had the news all the time here covering the earthquake and as the missing and death toll rose and rose, the thing we were all afraid of was getting that email from our universities telling us we were being pulled out. After the power plant happened the number of Americans who got dragged away was stupidly high. And when I say dragged, I mean dragged. Students were getting blackmailed by their unis to go home. They’d cut their funding, cut their support, take away their insurance etc. It was stupid.

I did get an e-mail from The Uni of Kent saying that if I did want to go back the insurance company would pay etc. But I turned them down, explaining why and begging them not to cancel their program. Thank goodness they have a head on their shoulders and were actually listening to us and why we wanted to stay (unlike a lot of American unis). I get the feeling that they told us that just as a precaution so that if anything did happen they could say that they gave us the option. I think the reasons people weren’t listening to the students out here was because of pressure from insurance companies or from families. Actually one friend of mine, her family were fine with her staying but her uni called her up everyday saying “when is she coming back, it’s not safe etc” and harassing her family and making them paranoid until she did go back.

The most frustrating thing was that our area was safe. It is hundreds and hundreds of miles from the disaster, even if the power plants had gone into melt down, it wouldn’t have been enough to impact us here. But people in foreign countries were seeing just the really bad news and spinning it in a way that made it looked like it was the end of the world, just to sell the news. Even the BBC were making it out to be worse then it was. I’m not saying it was terrible, it really really was a horrible disaster, but the Japanese news was focused on keeping people calm while informing them of what was going on. The Japanese news was great, just like all Japanese news and TV, it’s a very optimistic media in comparison to America and Europe.

Then the end of the week came and I was studying in the library for something and I get a message saying Brittany was going home. She had only found out that morning after telling her parents the situation, and they were so worried her mum booked her a flight on the same day. So she got her things packed and came to uni telling me she was leaving. She said it was a temporary leave but I think in our hearts we knew that wasn’t likely, especially because she didn’t even know when she was coming back, “hopefully before midterms” she said. I tried not to be sad, at least not infront of her, but after she left…

Brittany really did grow to be my bestest, best friend out here. Spring break was after that, and then midterms. I kept messaging her and things weren’t clear until a few weeks later, 3 weeks after she’d gone she said she wasn’t coming back. The problem was the nuclear plant, if that was still in the red her family wasn’t going to let her come back.

I just think it’s frustrating how ignorant people abroad can be, and how much the news blows things out of proportion, I’m never trusting the news ever again.

Since the incident life in Japan has been pretty normal and Japan has been quickly picking itself up. The news here went from “bad” to “things are looking better”. It began to show people and their stories of what happened to them and their families, to people being evacuated to schools, to the slow implication of necessary foods and water. The news began to cover a lot more good things about people after the incident who were picking up their lives. It’s not only the news who is staying optimistic though. It’s nice to see that everywhere I go I see Japanese people in groups with boxes for collecting donations for the earthquake victims and people always give them money. I was in Toyosato the other day for the K-On school again and there was a poster of the K-On girls with “Pray for Japan” t-shirts on. Even anime is supporting the earthquake victims.

A month or so has passed since then and things have gone back to normal. News doesn’t cover what’s been going on much anymore and people aren’t being dragged home, a few even came back! People are still collecting donations, I don’t think that’ll stop for a long time. And apart from missing a lot of my friends who were unexpectedly taken away, things are pretty much just as they always have been.

1 comment:

  1. I admire you staying and not caving in to fear mongering and paranoia. In a small way, you too were a victim of the disaster. Not as seriously as someone directly affected, but you did lose your friends and those close to you as they had to leave. So like others, it changed your life in Japan and made things tougher. It's good that you pulled through though. Thanks for the post - i'll be a little more sceptical/wary of western news in relation to the disaster and anything similar in future. Let's hope Japan recovers swiftly!