At a time when many in Japan are suffering — without basic necessities, missing loved ones, under constant threat of more disaster — it seems silly to talk about my worries. I fear that talking about them will somehow trivialize the tragedy that has occurred.
At the moment, Tokyo is not in any danger. That being said, Dan and I have a difficult decision ahead, one many ex-pats currently face: do we stay or do we leave?
Right now, my heart belongs to Japan. Tokyo has finally started to feel like my home. We have been here for 9 months, and though I’m a somewhat transient lady, this is where I prefer to hang my hat.
I know I am incredibly lucky — I am an American and have confidence that my embassy would help if there was an emergency. I have friends in many countries, and Dan has a solid job with a company with resources. I do not feel I would ever be stranded or forgotten. I know how extremely lucky I am because I had the resources to move to Japan in the first place.
But, we have the opportunity to take a little break from Japan for a while. Do we stay or do we go? As the situation at the power plant becomes more threatening it becomes easier to make the argument to leave. But at this point Tokyo is not in danger. And Tokyo is my home.
Some foreigners have been criticized for leaving, criticized for inducing panic or abandoning Japan in her time of need. What can I do to contribute if I were to stay? I can donate money, but otherwise I must sit and wait.
Leaving Japan is a personal decision and no one should be judged for doing so. Whether for the safety of your kids or the sanity of your nerves, taking a break from the drama shouldn’t be viewed negatively. Alternatively, no one should be criticized or harassed for wanting to stay. News coverage in the United States has been more sensationalized than here in Japan, and frantic calls from abroad help no one. We are aware of the severity of the situation, thankyouverymuch. I’m a smart lady with smart resources, and can make the right decision. Most importantly, it is the right decision because it is my own decision.
So then why is it so hard to choose, and why do I feel so bad?
It might be guilt, or adrenaline withdrawal, after being so close to a disaster and narrowly missing its wrath. It might be the solidarity I feel with my new friends in Tokyo and the life I have here, a solidarity I feel I’d be abandoning.
And so, we’ve decided to leave. It is sad to go, but it is a short trip and it feels like the right thing to do at the moment. Hopefully my absence from Tokyo can help conserve energy, resources… anxiety. There are difficult times ahead for Japan, and I’m in it for the long-haul. Even if I’m not for the short.
You can see my other reactions to the Tohoku Earthquake here and here.
You don’t know me, but I lived down the street from Dan in Bachmanville PA when he was growing up. Our family moved from there in 1989. I may even have taught him a few months of piano lessons before we moved (it was either him or Seth). I found your blog because Nick posted it on his facebook.
I just wanted to say thank you for the thoughtful heartfelt posts about your experience during this earthquake. It provides such a human touch compared to the endless onslaught of viral videos. It helps to have sensible, honest and humble voices like yours to balance what we hear in the media. My thoughts are with you and Dan during this tough decision time.
Jon, thanks for your thoughts and encouragement. Hope springtime in PA finds you well!
Jon speaks the truth, Angie, and he’s good people – as good as they come.
I hope you guys can do some posts from Beijing – I’d love to hear what it’s like. I was there in 2001, but I’m sure it’s basically unrecognizable now. Am especially interested in hearing what you’ll be eating, but that’s just me.
Hi Angie & Dan,
I was relieved to hear you were okay, that all you felt was some shake, rattle, & rolling. With Japan being an island nation, I am surprized that there was not more damage. I guess it all depends on the “lay of the land” so to speak.
Did I miss where you were going when you leave Tokyo? Will you be going back to Tokyo later? Are you coming back to the USA for awhile? I’m sure your parents would breath a little easier.
I’ll keep you both in my prayers.
Love to you both from Aunt Carol Ann