A few days ago, here in the Land of the Rising Sun, there was a 7.1 Magnitude earthquake, a tsunami warning was issue – it technically did happen, in some places in northern Japan there was a tsunami a good few centimetres high.
Now I live in Osaka, so I didn’t feel the quake, and it was unlikely to affect me personally – on a map Osaka might look a little close to Tokyo, but tremors are rarely felt here in Osaka. And yet I could not sleep. Was the reason for my lack of sleep concern for my friends in Tokyo and beyond? Maybe, it is certainly part of it, but it is not the whole story.
The earthquake, which was initially thought to be 7.3 in magnitude, happened about 2:41am. I had the misfortune to still be awake and the TV still on. NHK, as all TV stations do, announced the quake a tsunami warning, with a ringtone like warning. Every foreigner gets used to the quite frankly, over cheap and cheerful tone with which earthquakes and other major natural disasters are announced, you sort what them to play something more macabre. But also you are, for a good few minutes at least, maybe an hour or two, completely glued to the box in the corner of the room. The incident is announced, warnings of future aftershocks and tremors are issued by text prompts being placed on the screen. In the background of such alerts, video images of landmarks through Japan, Shinjuku Station, Fukushima Dia-ichi Power plant and the like are displayed. It becomes a media event, it needs to be in a way, and you don’t want to be too relaxed about.
You email or call your parents, tell them you are OK, yes you got the text alert warning, yes you know you parents have seen reports through Twitter that the tsunami is already here. But it is all OK, honest it really is Mum and Dad. You upload a YouTube video perhaps saying all is well, there – one’s duty to loved ones is fulfilled, to bed, or futon in my case surely?
Well, no. At the back of my mind at least, is this thought, what if it really does happen this time? You know it probably want but one guesses that’s what the people on March 11th thought. Thankfully, at some point, the tsunami warning is cancelled – 4am this time around, but that thank God this doesn’t happen every day, as I need my sleep.