Japan tsunami aftermath: Flight to Osaka

ByGIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
March 17, 2011 01:08

'Post' correspondent reports from Japan's second-largest city on Tokyo exodus; situation at Fukushima reactors remain precarious.




A resident walks past destruction in Sendai, Japan

Japan bicycle destruction 311 (R). (photo credit:REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak)

OSAKA – Rattled by an earthquake, devastated by a tsunami, for Japan things went from bad to worse over the past few days when three nuclear reactors north of Tokyo emitted serious amounts of radiation and continue to do so with no end in sight.

Still, the flight to Osaka, part of Japan’s second-largest metropolis, located in the south of the country, was 80-percent full on Wednesday, according to the Cathay Pacific stewardess.

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Koki Homma, an academic from the University of Kyoto specializing in agriculture, was returning home to Nara from a business trip to Thailand.


“I’m not worried about radiation, which is in the north,” he said. “Osaka is safe. There are no power outages. In Tokyo, however, the situation is different.”

It may sound funny coming from a person living in the volatile Middle East, but I asked Homma how he dealt with living in a disaster-prone country.

“When we buy a house, we take into consideration the earthquake preparedness,” he said. “Some people I know won’t live near the sea because of a tsunami, others won’t live near a mountain because of mud slides. But we are very well prepared.”

Japan is a nation roughly the size of California, consisting of several mountainous islands. The leaky Fukushima nuclear reactors, located on the northeastern shores of the main island, are roughly 200 kilometers north of Tokyo and 700 kilometers northeast of Osaka.

While radiation levels detected in Tokyo on Tuesday suggested some radioactivity had spread to the sprawling megalopolis of 30 million people, these were still far below the level that might pose a health hazard.

On Wednesday, that significant, albeit low level of radiation – about the same dosage passengers are exposed to on flights – was dropping, media reported.

At the same time, the situation at the Fukushima reactors remained precarious, prompting most Israeli media outlets on Monday to pull their correspondents from the country in case the situation deteriorates.

Channel 10 and Channel 2, which both sent their anchors to Japan to cover the catastrophe, put their staff back on flights to Israel.

Follow Gil Shefler on Twitter @GilShefler

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