I had been meaning to write about this earlier, but given the way events are unfolding in the Fukushima nuclear crisis, an article published in May in the Japan Times about an ALT returning to finish his contract isn't so outdated.
On one hand, it's admirable that this guy and the other ALTs decided to stick around and finish their contracts. But on the other hand, I wonder if they are not fools for willfully living so close to a nuclear reactor that has melted down.
"Honestly, it came down to the people," Hauan said when asked why he ultimately decided to return May 10.
Besides, he added, he constantly received updates from his Japanese employers about the situation in Fukushima and was aware that things were safer than they were portrayed by some Western media.
In the early stages of the disaster, the Western media "reporting" was hysterical, but since then, they've calmed down and collected themselves. Now the public is left wondering if they can trust all the downplaying by the government.
Three months after the disaster and the truth is only finally starting to come out--reactors one, two, and three suffered a melt down and probably a "melt-through," too. Cesium has shown up in tea leaves as far away as Shizuoka, the water treatment system TEPCO is using to filter radioactive water had to be stopped after only five hours, and an increasing number of residents in and around Tokyo are asking for more radiation monitoring.
However, back in Tamura, 35km from the Fukushima reactor, life has "more or less returned to normal." In this case, normal means wearing long sleeves and a mask when outside, making sure the kids don't put any dirt or sand in their mouths, and avoiding some of the locally-grown food.
The image that seems to be taking shape now is that the nuclear disaster is far from over and the new normal will likely consist of a permanent exclusion zone. Many of the locals must be wondering if they will ever be able to return home.
Consider this an open thread. Anybody have information on how teaching has been affected in the Tohoku region? Business as usual, or has hiring been difficult?