Fukushima Nuclear Crisis: My Situation

Many news outlets will be warning people that the nuclear problem at Fukushima is a problem that will spread across oceans and get many people sick- while it is a possibility, I want to help clarify a few things.

To start off, I want to say that though the situation is unstable at the Fukushima Power Plant, I am in no danger. The Fukushima power plant is roughly 700km, or 450 miles away from Kyoto, and Kyoto is sheltered on three sides by a staple-shaped mountain range. None of the food Nicky and I eat and none of the water we drink is contaminated, nor are we experiencing any sort of supply shortages. Business is as usual in Kyoto. As well, in the case of a full nuclear fallout (which is highly unlikely), the radiation would spread a maximum of 100 miles.... and even at that distance, the radiation would not be dangerous. The situation is improving at the plant. I repeat, I am in NO danger.

If you are confused about how the plant is melting down, or rather was, then I urge you to watch the following video.

In addition to the complications at the power plant, the U.S. government issued a Travel Warning to all U.S. citizens in Japan. This was something that I direly hoped wouldn’t happen, as it meant that my EAP program would be canceled and I would be forced to return to America. Given that I had seriously been working to create a life in this country with Nicky and our dog, this was terrible news- we would be given a matter of days to evacuate. Luckily, the company in charge of helping students evacuate was willing to help Nicky and the dog as well- the bad news was that Nicky would have to pay current sky-rocketing airfare (United Airline was charging $4,500 for a one way ticket out of Japan), which included layover in Narita (Tokyo’s airport). As well, the vet had never given Vaaska his rabies vaccination despite my asking them last year in October, so it was possible that he would either be quarantined or not allowed to fly at all.

Problems continued to compound; due to the cancellation of the EAP program, all of my financial aid would be due back immediately for the Spring term. I had no jobs waiting for me in America, and Nicky wouldn’t be allowed to work because she is only a tourist in the states. Eventually, my parents suggested that it would be most economical, since we were in no danger, to just have me go home and take care of all of my school affairs while Nicky stayed in Japan. This instantly seemed like the best option, even though it would have us separated for some weeks. The main reason for this is that, officially, once I would have landed in the U.S., I would have no longer been a student of UC Berkeley.

Yet, even this seemed rather ridiculous, that I was being forced to evacuate when it wasn’t really a dangerous situation, only for a single document that my school needed. As well, the financial burden of needing to return quickly (in a matter of weeks), with no job, no financial aid was a little scary.

Luckily, I was finally able to get in contact with my school advisor, who informed me that I don’t need to leave Japan at all. I’ll be able to stay on in Japan and simply wait for my degree to process while I look for a job. So, yesterday I sent off around 20 applications, and will look for work visa sponsorship. As my friend Valerie said, this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise- I was ready for school to be over, and I want to have a more financially secure life with Nicky here. I already have an interview this week, so we’ll see how it goes!