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March 17, 2011

Back in Tokyo: Earthquakes, tsunami, and nuclear

Category: General — Marc Trudel-Bélisle @ 10:39 AM

Well, we can say this last week has been packed with action…

I came back in Tokyo after 3 weeks in Canada on the 9th of March; once I arrived in Narita, I went to drop my things home, and went to work to drop my passport for the immigration counselor. While I was away, I have applied for a new work visa, and my passport was required to get the immigration office’s official response to the application. After discussing with my boss, I went home, to sleep for a while.

Thursday was a great day, as I finally received the long-awaited response: approved, for a 3 year duration. To celebrate, we of course went for a couple of beer after work. Little sleep again, but I was so happy it did not matter much.

Then Friday came.

On the 11th, starting at around 2:45 JST, a serie of earthquakes struck many cities in the north-east of the country, including Tokyo. Ever since, it has been a succession of nearly-sleepless night; taking care of worried friends, following up on my martial art school’s activities, following the news, speaking out in Quebec’s medias to reassure people about the situation, postponing the move to my new apartment (which was planned for last weekend) etc. And of course, at the same time, it was very important for our company to keep on doing whatever work we were able to get done; this was essential to assure our survival on a long-term basis.

Today, at around 6PM, a group of my colleagues have decided to temporarily relocate to Osaka; because of the current turn of event, many could not refrain themselves from worrying (a very understandable reaction, of course), and prefered to get out of Tokyo at least for the long week-end (Monday being a holiday). Food, transportation and electricity are disrupted at various level, and that seems to affect many people here; getting away from this for a while, as a group, will surely help many to clear off their minds and focus on something productive.

However, considering the current state of event, I have volunteered to stay in Tokyo; from a company standpoint, I felt we needed to keep a presence here. Also, from a personal standpoint, I prefer to stay close to my school and the other people which practices there, and try to keep living a normal life. I have to say that I am not really as affected, sleep hours aside, by the current situation as some of my friends are. Moreover, I believe that in the very unlikely event where things would hit a catastrophic point, I would still be able, on my own, to get quickly out of the city through my own means. For added safety, my boss left me the keys to his apartment and asked me to stay there for the rest of the week-end.

For now, the  situation in Tokyo is uncomfortable, but stable and entirely bearable. It is extremely unlikely that the city will receive any significant level of radiation, let alone a life-threatening level; earthquakes are also diminishing in strength with time, and all lead to think that this should also go back to normal soon.

I must admit, now that I have some time alone to reflect on the week that just passed, that at no time I was taken by fright or panic. A strange thing perhaps, which I am not sure I can really explain clearly. Many things are happening at the same time in my life, aside from the disaster we are going through at the moment, which should draw worries and anxiety out of me; however, for some reason, only quietness inhabits my mind; I truly rejoice of such thing, as it allows me to focus solely on helping people around me and be purposeful in my actions.

Many have written to me to enquire about my whereabouts and my well-being; I would like to thank you very much for doing so, and at the same time would like to reassure you and let you know that in no time either I have ever been endangered by the current situation. I believe it would be safe to say the same about most of my friends and colleagues.

Of course, the times to come will most probably prove to be difficult ones for the people I work with, my friends and of course the Japanese population; however, I have strong hopes that we will all get through this and gain great strength in doing so.

If you wish to follow up more closely on what is going on, please follow my updates on both Twitter and Facebook:

www.facebook.com/stelcheck
www.twitter.com/stelcheck

And of course, if you have any questions in regards to the current events, write to me!

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