FOOD and power shortages are making life difficult for people in earthquake-ravaged Japan, according to a former Huddersfield woman.
And Sheila Shimizu, who lives in Tokyo, revealed that more than two weeks after the massive quake and tsunami, their home is still being hit by aftershocks – some as big as 6 on the Richter scale.
But she has praised the spirit of the Japanese who are battling to get life back to something like normality.
Mrs Shimizu has lived in Japan for 32 years. She is a teacher and lives in Tokyo with her husband Mamoru and two children, Emily and George.
They also share their home in Tokyo with Mr Shimizu’s mother Shizuko, who is 84.
In a message home she said: “The impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami has been beyond our imagination and the news seems to get worse everyday.
“More than 10,000 dead, at least 20,000 missing and thousands injured. Thankfully supplies are finally getting through to the stricken areas, but conditions in the evacuation centres are still dire, with no power or running water and midwinter temperatures.
“And then there’s the unfolding horror of the nuclear power plant disaster which seems to be wildly out of control. We are told that vegetables and milk from the afflicted area are contaminated and rumours abound that tap water is tainted and shouldn’t be drunk by infants. Parents of small babies are now being issued with bottled water.
“We are all trying to get on with our lives as best we can but sometimes it isn’t so easy.
“The bustling streets of Tokyo are abnormally quiet – as though we had been hit by one of those bombs that kill all the people but leave the buildings intact.
“And it’s so dark and eerie without the neon lights. Shops are closing at 6pm rather than 9pm or later, and supermarket shelves are still empty of many daily necessities such as eggs, milk, bread, flour and dried yeast. We can now get gasoline but the power cuts continue with no end in sight.
“The other day I met a young man called Adam Richardson, from Leeds. He teaches English in a school near my house. We asked each other ‘Where were you during the quake?’ I was in a cake shop nearby and he was making the final arrangements for his wedding.
“He married his Japanese girlfriend on March 20 and his parents flew from Leeds to attend the ceremony – which says an enormous amount about the true grit of Yorkshire folks.
“Over two weeks have passed but we still feel tremors, often quite severe, several times a day – like being on board a storm-tossed ship.
“Sometimes we get a warning and our mobile phones flash and beep like mad. A tiny man appears on the screen, urging us to run – but where to? This is simply not an option for my family as we have three cats, two dogs and my husband’s 84-year-old mother to care for.
“The aftershocks are enough to set everything swaying but not enough to break anything.”
Mrs Shimizu, a former student at Holme Valley Grammar school, said there had been good news, with the rescues of survivors from quake-hit buildings.
“I think this awful tragedy has brought out the best in many people. We smile at each other more and little acts of unexpected kindness warm our hearts and lift our spirits.”