Just a quick update as of March 16, 4:30pm Japan time.
School is closed still until March 22 and it seems my work email is only sometimes forwarding messages to me (just a laptop software issue) so if I haven't responded to anyone, I will be in the office Thursday morning Japan time to handle any and all correspondence.
Things in Tokyo are safe, people are stocking up on essentials, but there are no immediate worries. Japanese people are not evacuating south.
The Japanese government, the US military, the Canadian government, the British government, the International Atomic Energy Agency (UN), and the World Health Organization all agree everyone outside 30km exclusion zone around the Fukushima reactors are safe. That's about 230km from Tokyo. They say even in the worst case scenario, we in the Tokyo area are still safe.
You can find the official websites for these groups at the bottom of this update.
There are some non-Japanese leaving Tokyo. Either they had plans to leave later this year so they're going sooner, or they had been in Japan long enough anyway and decided now was the time to go. Some foreign company non-Japanese expat employees were ordered to leave by their overseas head offices and there are some non-Japanese people taking their children south or out of the country.
The concern about the unknown is causing them to leave it seems.
The expat staff leaving will most likely be gone for just a week or two and then come back when things calm down.
Expats I have heard from say the same thing. And some of the non-Japanese leaving early in their stay will of course come back to Japan.
The decision for international students to leave can only decided by students talking with their parents. We clearly understand if some students do leave and respect their decision.
Other than that, since I have my work responsibilities, I will stay as of the time of writing this message. I am making these choices based on the cold, hard facts from official guidelines from the above groups, and from the school.
A good example how how safe it is here is the fact that the US military has 50,000+ personnel in Japan, many of whom have their families here, but they are not evacuating their children nor the other civilians.
Again, there are lots of 'experts' talking on various TV news programs here and around the world, but I'm not listening to them.
Only if there is an evacuation order from the Japanese government will I leave this area, or maybe from my country's embassy, either for the south of Japan or another country, unless other credible information comes my way.
While I have woken up each day expecting for hear this reactor crisis is being controlled, it keeps going sideways, but not worse, in that a 100km exclusion zone is not being created to my knowledge at this time.
I honestly think we are still in the first week of shock and confusion, but by next week, things will be much better.
My heart goes out to the thousands of people still stranded up north.
The official websites I recommend following;
Japanese government in English;
US Forces Japan
US Forces Japan Commander's positive announcement
UK official site
Canadian official site
BBC live Japan - good, except for the odd sensationalist report
There were good articles in the Japan Times English newspaper today.
1) Japanese language and attitudes related to these issues
2) Helpful information sites.
Mobile internet lifeline in Japan
Sorting quake information in Japan
Feel free to contact me if you have any concerns or questions.
I will be in the office on Thursday, March 17 Japan time from around 8am for awhile.