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Update from our comrades in Japan

Mar 25, 2011Update

“I will be never beaten!” – Extracts from the diary of Massa Takahashi, train driver from the Mito region and Member of the JREU, the RTBU’s sister union

15 March, 5th day of evacuation

We evacuated to a local primary school for shelter.

Sometimes groundless rumors spread, but some information emerged that was true: when we evacuate from leaking radiation we will have to move by ourselves. It began raining. Residents within 20- to 30- km radiuses have been instructed to stay indoors. As the roof of mum’s house is broken I was worrying about her. Around 2pm miso soup was distributed to us. It seemed to be long time since I ate warm meal. It was very delicious and it moved me.

After our decision in the meeting to save electric power, the rooms were dim inside even in daytime. The intercom announced that the pharmacy in the shelter had run out of all medicine but my youngest child still had a fever.

The situation of our members is changing. Because of the increased risk of a nuclear plant accident my fellow workers are leaving their houses behind.

Evacuee numbers in this shelter reduced from 900 to 699 but 5,000 people living in Soma City have already left their homes. We cannot ease the fear of radiation.

19 March, 8th day of evacuation

In shelters around us flu broke out. We have to wash our hands and gargle. We have established some rules: (1) When you have a fever you have to rest in the ‘nurse’s office’. (2) When you have flu you have to go to hospital. (3) When you have infective gastroenteritis you have to rest in the room at the corner of the building and not use the other toilets apart from a designated one.

Evacuees in this shelter are positive volunteers; cleaning, preparing for meals and distributing supplies. The number of administration staff is so small that they have to work for a long time, but other volunteers include high school students and residents who are helping with the work.

Moreover, we face the risk of radiation. We have to do what we can do by ourselves.

For last two days, lots of relief supplies were transported from all over Japan but because of staff shortages we cannot provide them to evacuees who really need them.

However, we have to stop the outbreak of illness.

Here in the shelter, many people have lost family and houses. After nine days passed I felt I became a different person compared with when I entered the shelter on my first day. At first my heart was full of despair and tragic emotion. Now, as my friends and relatives came to see me and their support has allowed me to regain my good spirits and power.

Today colleagues of JREU Mito office visited us to encourage us. This is the second time and my wife was very glad of that.

22 March, 12th day of evacuation

By now the main road to Tohoku is almost re-opened, and the long distance bus service between several devastated areas and Tokyo has started again, the Sendai to Tokyo route is full of passengers, and local roads in affected area can be used again.

As a result, people and supplies such as fuel began to reach the devastated areas. However, the disaster was so huge that lots of people are still missing and whole towns are destroyed by the tsunami. We haven’t confirmed if people concerned are safe or not, we are still searching for the missing.

JREU has 12 regional offices, 80 local branches and 800 sub-branches. About 12,000 members are living in the devastated area. At first it was very difficult for us to confirm our members and their families safety, secondly we have to grasp where they evacuated and this fact slowed our relief activities.

Recent news from Japanese rail unions:

■     By 18 March, JREU HQs provided supplies to JR-Joban Bus and Koriyama Infrastructure Office sub-branches, Koriyama branch and Miharu shelter. JREU Akita, Hachioji, Takasaki and Omiya regional office to Morioka.

■     19 – 20 March, Kaoru Tashiro, a Councilor, former executive of JRU visited devastated area and promised he would tackle reviving the area.

■     20 March, JRU Mito regional office opened its “shelter” in Tsukuba to accept members and family. Chiba regional office delivered supplies to this shelter.

■     21 – 22 March. Two 4 ton trucks loaded relief supplies and chartered by JR Hokkaido Railway Workers Union arrived in Morioka and brought relief supplies to Kamaishi, Miyakoa and Kesennuma.

■     Crisis of the accident of nuclear power plant continues, so, members and residents living in dangerous areas are evacuated to other towns, and we intend to follow them.