Tokyo food supplies run out but it’s ‘business as usual’

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The devastating trio of an earthquake, a tsunami and now the threat of nuclear meltdown has left the Japanese people in a bewildered state.

On one hand, I have witnessed the panicked buying and mass hysteria all too common in the aftermath of such events.

In Tokyo, restaurants are jam-packed with people but most supermarkets have no food to sell anymore, except soft drink cans and fresh salads.

"It’s because of the earthquake. The factory used by our suppliers was destroyed in the earthquake," whispers one shopkeeper, while smiling and apologizing unrelentingly to customers.

80 miles away from bustling Tokyo, in the coastal city of Mito, anger is rising. "Train are still blocked but rescuers are now cleaning the roads to let the trucks get in," a Finnish journalist told Metro via telephone. "In Mito, I saw people fighting for a bottle of water,"

Yet on the other hand, I see this famously stoic nation calmly getting on with the daily lives, only days after the most tragic event in Japanese history since WWII.

"You see? This Monday, it’s business as usual," Fujigo Nagana, a 78-year-old widow, tells me as she peers down from her apartment, watching office types walking to and fro in Yoyogi, a neighborhood in Tokyo’s central business district.

"My daughter lives in Germany. She is freaked out and wants me to join her but it’s so far away, so I am no going anywhere now," she says.

Down the street, I meet Akio Gondo, 60 years old. He works as a dental surgeon in the neighborhood but took a break to join the long queue in front of the local fuel station of Sendagaya.

"Now, whenever we have to leave the city, I will be ready," he says.

Akio shows a calm confidence about the nuclear crisis that threatens his country. "I support my government when it says the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant is still under control. And I trust the news reports from NHK [national radio and tv] or the Asahi Shimbun [national newspaper]. So unless an experienced Japanese atomic specialist comes up and tells us to escape, I am not worried".

But as he watches Prime Minister Naoto Kan give the latest TV speech on the situation at Fukushima, Akio wonders: "Well, 300 kilometers [186 miles] between Tokyo and Fukushima is quite a small distance, isn’t it?"

 

Voices from Tokyo:

Fujigo Nagana, 78 years old.

Q: Are you scared?
A: No I am not and I feel very lucky after the earthquake.

Q: Do you trust official information about Fukushima?

A: Yes, I do and I watch goverment statements on tv all day long.

Q: Would you leave Tokyo?
A: I don’t want to even if my children ask me to.

Akio Gondo, dental surgeon, 60 years old.

Q: Are you scared?
A: I was a little bit afraid tonight after our prime minister’ speech on Fukushima.

Q: Do you trust official information about Fukushima?
A: Yes, we have to or what else can we trust?

Q: Are you ready to leave Tokyo?
A: Yes, my fuel tank is full and I have another house in Nagano

Nosomi Adashi, nail artist, 29 years old.

Q: Are you scared?
A: I think my foreign friends on Facebook are more scared than me

Q: Do you trust official information about Fukushima?

A: Not at all, I think the situation is much worse but they don’t want us to panic.

Q: Are you ready to leave Tokyo?
A; If i did not have an important exam this week, I would join my older brother in Shimane.


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