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My Own Personal "Aftershocks", Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)
Written by Nozomi Johnston

Talk about feeling USELESS and HELPLESS here. I have not been able to do a thing yet. Sure, I’ve helped with a few meals for the relief workers. Sure I donated my time a bit to do small things here and there. But due of the timing of the year, I haven’t even been able to have Joy Group. April is the Japanese version of the American “summer break”—the school year ends in late March, and they begin their new year in April. Our friends are busy spending time with their kids, and trying to bring some sort of “fun” during this time for the children. I am waiting anxiously to debrief with my Japanese friends.

I am also anxious to go up north. I’m tired of just hearing about it and talking about it...I wish I could just go. At this time, however, it’s easier said than done. The last thing I want to do is to be in the way of the other workers who have had training in the “initial” stages of disaster relief (operating machinery, recovering bodies, emergency medical needs, etc.). We also don’t want to overwhelm the local churches and evacuation centers who are struggling to meet their own needs let alone host another person. So I must wait for the Lords’ timing to go through the most helpful way for them, and truly go to meet THEIR NEEDS, and not go to make myself feel better for helping out.

Jeff has been amazing, and I see God using his gifts at this time. He is the “communications department” for Asian Access, so he has been pumping out story after story of people’s blog posts, reflections, various news items, etc. from all over the world. I’m grateful that he has promoted the Asian Access Japan Tsunami Relief Fund, which will focus on long-term recovery. I’m excited about the MILLION DOLLAR MATCHING GIFT CHALLENGE that Asian Access has set up (please get the word out! through a very generous donor. I’m also thankful that Jeff was able to go to Sendai to talk to and interview pastors who have amazing stories of hope and love in the midst of their own sadness. You see, the Japanese will still be here, even after all the media cameras and the relief workers have come and gone. They will still need funds 1 year from now when the world has “Compassion Fatigue” (true concept, unfortunately) and will be on to the next story. Funds will be much needed 2 years from now, and even 5 years from now. My prayer is that through Jeff’s ministry of communication, that many would be moved to pray, give, and/or serve Jesus in Japan FOR THE LONG HAUL.

Another part of my personal “Aftershocks” refection is the fact that I am completely appalled by the media...and the power of the media. I’ve always known that the news will sometimes present only a part of the truth, or will make things sound exaggerated for the purpose of sensationalism. But to see it and then have to live within the consequences of that kind of news coverage has been exhausting. Initially, when I first heard the words being thrown around like: meltdown, explosion, leakage, radiation, high dosage, damage, health risk—of course I got scared. Who wouldn’t be? But then I started reading up on the “fine print” that the news does not talk about, it turns out that the “high dosage” is not enough to be harmful, and that even now the radiation that we have in Tokyo is lower than what some other countries have on normal days! What’s sad is that even the areas within the 30km radius is not at dangerous levels, nor is their drinking water polluted. But because of the feelings of fear presented by the media, the world has panicked on our behalf, and sadly, it has backfired. Those who need water and food within the radius are suffering, because some relief workers have been forbidden to enter due to fear.

And the Japanese economy will suffer even more because the media has made such a fuss over the radiation levels in the food, that no one will purchase even the items that are just FINE. Today on TV, they showed the vegetable farmer who brought produce from Fukushima; he had a Geiger Counter in his hand! The poor guy had to take that drastic measure to prove to his customers that his produce from Fukushima is not radioactive. I felt so bad for him. Trust me...the Japanese are too anal about safety...they will not sell food or water that is bad, even before this incident, but especially now when the world’s eyes are upon the industry.

The morning that it was announced that radiation was detected in the drinking water in Tokyo, guess what happened? Everyone ran to the store first thing in the morning, and hoarded. As a result, bottled water could not be found in any store for several days all over Tokyo. Once people started learning the fact that it was still fine for adults to drink, then things settled down. Even the deal about babies ages 0-3 using bottled water was a “just to be safe” kind of thing. If they would have had gallons and gallons of it, then sure, it may have some negative effects. I’m learning that “level-headed” news is boring, so that’s why calming words are not used. Who wants to hear that everything is okay?!

Just to give you an idea of what some of us are dealing with, I’ll share this. I was answering an email from a person in Germany who was concerned for the people of Japan, and was amazingly kind in offering his home for anyone who needs it. I thanked him and explained that our focus needs to be on the people up north, and not the people in Tokyo, and that we are fine. I asked him to please send help for northern Japan. He wrote back immediately to tell me that he disagrees with me, and that we are NOT fine in Tokyo, and that because I live here, that I must be too close to the situation to see the truth. Um, huh??

And finally, may I just say this--what is the deal with all of the American Embassy people leaving the citizens behind?? They were one of the first ones outta here! Maybe I've watched too many patriotic movies, but my idea was that the Embassy would be the last to leave, so that they would provide for its citizens in times of need.

Anyway, see what I mean? I’ve already taken up too much time and energy just complaining about this. Sorry to be negative but I needed a place to rant, and this is my blog:) I need to get back on track, because the message that I want to shout out is that the RADIATION IS NOT THE TOP NEWS!!!! I wish the media would focus on the thousands of people who need specific help due to the tsunami. Or the people with amazing stories of survival. Or those who are hurting so much that they just need to talk about their story of loss.


Please read Part 3 if you are interested.

(To be Continued...)

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