By now, the whole world knows about the death and destruction that hit Japan yesterday afternoon. Japan Zone is located in Nagoya, Central Japan and a good 800km from the worst hit areas. We most certainly felt the earthquake shortly before 3pm, and it was prolonged and frightening. But this region and western Japan suffered no deaths or major damage. Tokyo and the Kanto region were less lucky, with scattered damage, injuries and even a few deaths. Public transportation was paralyzed for hours and many people spent a bitterly cold night on the streets or trying to get home. There continue to be power outages and life will be disrupted for some time.
But the real story, the terrible tragedy is in the Tohoku region of northern Japan, in particular along the Pacific coast. A steady barrage of tsunamis washed away whole communities and the death toll is likely to be in the thousands. One particularly shocking report told of 200-300 bodies being washed up on a beach. And a major ongoing fear is the damage suffered by nuclear power plants on the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. A deterioration of that situation could have deadly consequences that would dwarf what we’ve seen so far.
So, thank you to those who have contacted us to express your concern. We urge everyone to do and give what you can to support the relief efforts that will continue for some time. We have yet to figure out any way Japan Zone can contribute other than offer our support to existing groups. If you have suggestions, let us know.
As I write this I am in the park watching my young children play and thankful that, this time, we are far from the devastation. But I am also in touch with friends and colleagues as we try to figure out how best we can help. Life goes on in much of Japan, though our hearts and thoughts are with those who have died, suffered and lost so much. This country is strongest when something brings the people together. This is such a time and the Japanese people will rise to the occasion, and we will be standing beside them.