Americans in Tokyo reflect on disaster, future safety
Despite last year's natural disaster in Japan and predictions a major earthquake will hit Tokyo, many Americans still call that city home. In his final report in his series from Japan, Dean Meminger spoke with Americans about their choice to stay.
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Tens of thousands of Americans live in Tokyo. And the experience of last year’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake, followed by a nuclear meltdown has changed the way many of them live.
"Even now I have my earthquake backpacks really close. They are not next to the front door anymore, but we definitely have them," said Chicago, Illinois native Libby Hopkins.
"I don’t love being on the 50th floor of buildings anymore," said Purchase, New York native Lisa Jardine.
There was minimal damage in Tokyo, but hundreds of miles away the Fukushima Nuclear plant had a meltdown. It spewed radiation, some of it reaching Tokyo. Many Americans left Japan but then returned. They say with a few precautions, they’re safe.
“Costco became very important as well, everybody wanted to buy American beef," Jardine said.
"Our Japanese friends and just Japanese people at stores, restaurants, wherever were so overwhelmed with appreciation that we were still here," said Minnesota native Katherine Hall.
Former New York resident Jon Omori said he’s still very concerned about radiation. So his family moved to New York City a year ago while he remains in Tokyo to work.
"You get very, very lonely. I think the girls miss me. I miss the girls and my wife. Fortunately we have Skype and Facetime," Omori noted.
There are also concerns about other nuclear plants in Japan, because the country has hundreds of earthquakes a year.
The government and scientists in Japan say they believe a major earthquake is going to hit Tokyo in the near future. And with some 13 million people living there, it's projected more than 10,000 people could be killed.
Lance Lee, the president of the Tokyo American Club, says he’s not concerned.
"If there was going to be a natural disaster anywhere in the world, I rather be here, because the Japanese people know how to handle themselves. There’s a calmness about Japanese people," Lee said.
“Even with the radiation, even with the ongoing earthquakes that happen. The positives of living in Japan, outweigh the negatives, they just do," Jardine added.