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TOMOE YAMAGUCHI

18/03/2011

 

Tomoe vit à Yokohama. Elle n’a pas grandi au Japon mais en Angleterre, autant dire qu’elle n’a pas l’habitude d’affronter les séismes.


Where do you live in Japan?

I live in Yokohama, work in Tokyo.

What were you doing at the time of the earthquake?

I was at my office on the 15th floor in Ogikubo, Tokyo.

What did you think when it happened? Was it the first time for you that you had to face such a strong earthquake?

Since the biggest earthquake I had ever experienced was less than 2-magnitude, I was scared to death when it started happening.

As I am sat by the window, my instinct (this, I realised later) was to get away from the window. I ran over to my colleague who sat in front of me, nearer to the center of the building, and was holding on to her. The shake was so strong that it was hard even to hold on to the desk which was fixed to the floor while the drawers next to me where I was squatting down were opening & closing with the rhythm of the shake. I was afraid that the building would fall apart. If I was going to die, windows will shatter, the building will fall apart and I slip away and fall of the 15th floor. The shake was so long it seemed like ages.

What happened exactly with the Tsunami? Did you hear about it just after the earthquake?

Information about the earthquake and tsunami were up on the internet news (also on the top page of yahoo.co.jp). They are a pair of information sent together to the public. However, we only saw the seriousness of tsunami in the evening of the day and the devastation of it the following day.

Were you shocked when you discovered the images on tv?

I was not able leave the office to get home until 11:30 p.m. due to the lack of transportation. However, when I finally got home at 2 a.m. and turned on the TV, I was speechless. In a way my mind was numb and I think if some people saw me then, they would’ve thought I was just staring (not « watching ») the TV. The devastation of the earthquake was so much more than I could’ve ever imagined and was getting worse by the second, and still is.

What do you think about the nuclear problems happening in Fukushima? Did you think that such a problem could happen with a strong earthquake? Do you think the government and Tepco answered the problem quickly enough? Do you trust your government?

It’s really embarrassing but I wasn’t aware that the Japanese was not against nuclear power. As I grew up abroad, in International Schools, I have learned the nuclear power plant as something we are opposed against.

What do you think will happen in Fukushima?

Honestly, I have no idea. Travel industry, farming industry will take a long time to recover, if it ever will. With regard to the nuclear power plant, Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) was planning on building another nuclear plant in Fukushima but I am hoping that plan is out of question now.

Do you think you will to escape from where you are at the time? To where? Why?

I thought about escaping many, many times to where my parents live in the UK. Some friends of mine have even told me to escape and if I can’t get the means they will arrange everything for me. Having been told that, I am staying put. Not only because escaping will mean leaving behind my dear colleagues and friends but also because “if” something really did happen, I could not live with the fact that I alone survived.

Can you describe Tokyo at the time or any other city you are in? Can you describe the atmosphere?

At a glance, it seems as if we are living their normal lives. Waking up in the morning, taking a train to work, getting home from work, etc. However, behind all these, I believe people are in panic mentally as they are stocking up on food and toiletries. I believe this is the Japanese way of panicking. On top of this, there are several factors that remind us of the difference to our everyday lives: frequent aftershocks (of earthquake), planned power-cuts (three hours a day, some six, depending on the region) and TV programs. My everyday life certainly has been affected and it is hard to keep track of what day of a week it is and it is difficult to sleep at night as I keep waking up feeling the earthquake when there wasn’t any.

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