News this morning here seems brighter on the nuclear front. A meeting at the British embassy last night put out a statement that Tokyo is too far away to be in danger, that there is no possibility of it being like Chernobyl, that there is massive international co-operation and that the Japanese govt. is being upfront with information.
Tokyo is calm, though it felt ominous last night - closed shops, trains surprisingly empty, few people on the streets. The trains were less crowded, in part because there were more train services running but in part because it seemed that there were a lot fewer people in the city than usual. Yesterday we considered going to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, but like most museums in the city it is shut for the week. In Harajuku - one of the main shopping areas- many shops were shutting early or not open at all. There has also been panic buying at the supermarket. Yesterday evening there was no milk, bread, water, potatoes, onions, noodles, tofu, natto (fermented beans) , toilet paper, tissues in the local supermarket - probably other things as well. It seems distribution lines may have a problem - but we have plenty of food here. I am not sure how much the supply lines have been disrupted - I will see when we go out today how much restocking has been done.
The situation in the north is much bleaker. In the evacuation centres in the north infrastructure lines are down and most centres have inadequate food. Hiro was saying last night that people have a one onigiri allowance per day (about 150g at a guess) in many of the evacuation sites. This is not far from starvation rations. There were pictures of children scavenging for food in the ruins of houses swept away by the tsunami. There are so many people displaced, and such damaged infrastructure that it is proving extremely difficult to keep people supplied with food. Without doubt there will be many more people die in the coming days.
The power supply seems to be stabilizing with some of the scheduled power cuts not going ahead as planned.
I am so impressed with Japanese people. The other day we were searching out some bread. I asked a shop assistant at a bread shop in Ueno station. As he pointed to a single loaf of bread (actually it was more like 4 slices) a woman picked it up and he and I both said 'zannen' (what a pity). She must have heard us and put it back. Neither of us bought it. At the Keisei lines the queue was many hundreds long - it snaked to the corner out of sight. We were there as the reopened the lines after the scheduled black out. People filed in in an orderly way, no pushing, no shoving, no anger or frustration. Very good to see.