‘We will rebuild
Parmesh Bhatt, a resident of the Land of the Rising Sun
for 40 years, says while the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear
crisis did shake up the country, it cannot match the
Japanese people’s resilience
India Abroad April 1, 2011
Iwas in my office working at my desk when the earthquake happened. Having lived in Japan for the last 40 years, we are used to earthquakes once in a while. But only on a small scale. There is a quake and then we get on with life. But this time something was different.
We got a jolt and there was a big noise. Since the building was
unstable, everything else was unstable too. I asked one of the
staffers to open the main door. The first thing you do when an
earthquake occurs is keep the door open. If the building collapses
and the door jams, you have no way of getting out. We used to run
to the toilet because it’s a safe place to stand in as it is small.
The Fukushima area had a tsunami some years back when the
waves came from the east. At that time the tsunami had hit Chile.
Japan had built a huge wall to thwart the tsunami danger. There
was a barrier against water.
Western newspapers write that the government’s response was
slow. I don’t think it’s true. The government had to take decisions
on the basis of inflow of information. Right now, we are not facing
a risk of radiation.
Normally, in Japan, we get earthquake warnings on our cell
phones. The seismic P waves are picked up by authorities through
seismometers and e-mails are immediately sent, the television
starts announcing it and we get alerts on our phones. We normally get the broadcast measurement data, the level and effect of radiation in our e-mails. In a few seconds, everybody in Japan knows
that something is going to happen. But this time we didn’t get it.
Maybe the time was too short. At 2.46 pm March 11, the earthquake happened without any warning.
A ferry perched on top of a house in the aftermath of an earthquake and tsunami in Otsuchi, Japan, March 13