We'll leave when...

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...the Japanese government announces Tokyo evacuations. Until then, Tod & I are staying here to experience this.

Friends and family have been so supportive since the disaster - old friends have come out of the woodwork to wish me well, my mother reports lots of people inquiring after my health, my sister offers to mail us care packages, my in-laws express their concern with lots of links to articles. Thank you all for putting Tod & I in your thoughts and prayers. It is comforting to know you care. And I understand that at least a few of you are deeply frustrated that we are still in Tokyo. I'd like to address that today.

The entire world is waiting for a resolution to the nuclear emergency - but the fact is that resolution isn't going to come overnight. Every day brings a bit of good news from Fukushima and some setbacks, too. We may have weeks or months to discover how this plays out. In the meantime, there is a huge disaster up north where over 400,000 people are suffering for real and right now. They should be getting the attention; they need our compassion and our help.

We are not ignorant of the state of affairs. We access news, speculation, rumours, opinions and worse case scenarios in two languages. We are paying attention, and we don't feel an urgent need to pack up and go. We talk it over daily.

"What do you think? Three more friends have left; they are getting stressed out. Should we go?"
"I'm not scared yet. Packing up and leaving is more disruptive than staying."
"Yep, that's what I was thinking, too. Good."

There have been deeper discussions, of course, but it boils down to that. We are staying because we aren't scared. Science backs us up.

We believe the dreaded worst case scenario - all six reactors explode simultaneously sending a radioactive plume into the air just as the wind swings toward Tokyo at typhoon speeds - is only one scenario among many. The more likely one, which yesterday's news seems to indicate, is that they will bring the reactor temperatures under control and start a long process of decommissioning the plant. This is a dangerous, complex situation but there are smart and brave people doing their best to handle it. I trust them.

There are many foreigners who are leaving Tokyo, that is true. Several governments are advising their citizen to consider leaving if they wish to, and are helping citizens in the disaster areas to get transit to Tokyo or elsewhere. A few have pulled their nonessential diplomatic staff back to the homeland.  Among our personal acquaintances, we've heard a  wide range of reasons for going: some friends cite concern for their children's safety; some have been pressured by their family; a few admit true panic and even cowardice. Others are leaving because they can't live in an environment with daily power and transit disruptions; some have left because they were planning to anyway and their work situation (cancellations or closings) allowed them to go early. The number one reason seems to be escaping stress from information overload. It's a long holiday weekend this weekend and many of our friends - foreign and Japanese both - have decided to spend it in Osaka, Kyoto, or one of the southern beaches where they can relax from the tense atmosphere. They will return next week.

But if we do decide to go - if the Japanese government says to leave Tokyo - then we will get ourselves to Osaka and will be on the first available plane bound for Australia.

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Good for you for keeping your heads and not giving into panic. Over here in the states, I've been depressed on how the 450,000 homeless have been all but forgotten in the focus on possible radiation leaks. The newspaper headlines seem intent on stirring people up over imagined scenarios while the people who are actually suffering right now are ignored.

I look to you and other friends whose blogs I've followed in the last decade for a glimpse of truth under the sensationalism. Thank you for sharing your story.

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