Message from EWCA Kansai Chapter Leader

This is a message from Seiko Furuhashi (ICC 82-84, 89), EWCA Kansai Chapter Leader.

Dear EWCA Alumni and Friends,

I would like to let you know that I was in Hawaii when the horrible earthquake and tsunami attacked North Eastern Japan on March 11, 2011. I am sending this report as many friends have asked me to keep them up-to-date with what is happening in Japan.

Thanks to my the support and encouragement from friends, I could complete my plan to attend the memorial services for my good friend from Hawai’i and meet friends and colleagues at the EWC, the University of Hawai’i,  and the Waianae community. I wish I could have had more time to meet all of my friends but I had limited time and needed to check news from home on regular basis.

On March 18, 2011, I came back to Nagoya safely. We flew over the coast line ,where the tsunami attacked.  Also, we  flew over Mount Fuji: it was  so clear and beautiful that I felt that although our land was severely damaged, our land is still there.  Here’s a picture of Mount Fuji that I took on the plane.

Aerial view from Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft).

I am glad to report that Nagoya (where my father lives), Kyoto (my hometown), Nara (where I used to work and still have many friends) and Oasaka (where I work now) are all unharmed.

There is a lot of confusion on the situation regarding the nuclear power facilities. We are very grateful from all the hard work that the Hyper Rescue Teams of the Fire Department, the Defense Force and other government authorities, international rescue teams, and the workers of Tokyo Electric Company, but sometimes it is hard to remain calm. Currently the government is facing the dilemma of how much information to release because the slightest of bad news may easily lead to mass hysteria. Recently we were informed on TV that radioactive substances exceeding the “normal level” were measured in milk and spinach produced near one nuclear plant and that the government put a ban on the distribution of these products. Quickly after that, people stopped buying milk and vegetables from North Eastern prefectures, even though they are far away from the nuclear plants. It is so sad that these milk and vegetables (although they are not from the banned area) are discarded while the survivors are desperately waiting for food. I believe there needs to be a better media strategy to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.

At the moment in Kansai, we cannot do much to help except collecting and sending provisions, and taking part of regional volunteer groups. I am trying to do my part by gathering donations at my father’s house. We are planning to donate these relief goods by for sending them to Tohoku in the North Eastern region.

In some positive news, I have watched in TV that the reporters are always eager to hand their microphones to the tsunami and earthquake victims so that they can communicate with their loved ones. They call out the names of their relatives and friends and describe their situation in tears.  Despite their devastating situation, many of them sign off their testimonies by saying “Shinpai shinai de. Ki wo tsukete ne.”, which means “Do not worry about me (us). Take care of yourself”.

Also, I watched the interview of three leaders of Hyper Rescue Teams who did the first successful water spraying of a nuclear plant. Although they fully knew that they were in serious danger during their operation, they were very humble about their accomplishment  One leader said, with tear in his eyes, that he was happy to be able to complete the mission but feel so sorry to put his subordinates and their families in such a risky situation. Another one said that after he had text messaged to his wife informing her that he was off to this dangerous operation, his wife returned message with ” Be the savior of Japan.” He told to the press that her words gave him the courage to tackle this important mission.

When thinking about the Great Hanshin Earthquake back in 1995, the recovery was  much quicker back then because the affected area was more limited when compared to the current one. This time the affected area is so spread out that it includes many remote and rural areas, which makes relief and rescue operations much more difficult to implement. Still, our people are very patient and cooperative with the authorities, so we hope that the recovery will progress much faster. One of our major concerns is that the situations at all nuclear plants can be contained.

That’s all for now. Thank you for your continuing concern and aloha,

Seiko Furuhashi


2 thoughts on “Message from EWCA Kansai Chapter Leader

  1. Seiko, many thanks for your detailed, touching account. I am a bit worried about my family in Kumamoto. I believe one son moved to Osaka and that’s as far north as the Tagashira family is living. They are on the coast but facing south and I presume they were not hit by the tsunami.
    I tried to search Tagashira on Google and 4 came but but all did not translate to English. Gail

  2. Aloha Gail, Glad to hear from you. How are you doing?
    I tried to check the name of Tagashira on Internet but there are so many!

    Well, Geographically, Kumamoto is the far end of Kyushu Island, the South Western Japan. So you do not need to worry about your family there as to earthquake and tsunami. As I mentioned earlier, Osaka/Kansai area is also OK so far.

    Only issue is the effect of the the disastrous Fukushima Nuke Plants which we do not know what comes next at the moment. The situations is changing day by day and hour after hour.

    Yesterday I returned to my university/International Center. The policy of the IC is to face this crisis not reactive but proactive and doing our best for the students and international education. The IC has been having regular meetings with students and communicating with partner institutions to give information and assistance to them while carrying the regular class sessions.

    I still do not know what kind of challenge we have to face from now but we will do our best.

    Mahalo for your concern and support.


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