Given the gravity of the situation in northern Japan, I felt compelled to check in on Kalamazoo’s sister city, Numazu, located along Japan’s southeastern shoreline in the Shizuoka Prefecture of Honshu Island, near the base of Mt Ashtaka and (further) Mt Fuji.
Directly exposed to Suruga Bay with an expansive sweeping shoreline (one of the largest in Japan), the city of Numazu has taken extreme measures to protect its inhabitants by constructing a retaining wall and a massive anti-tsunami barrier at the entrance to its harbor area.
According to Scott Donald, an English speaking writer and author who publishes a blog called Numazu Traveler, the city “appears to be fairly safe so far.” They are dealing with intermittent power outages (designed to divert power to the Sendai area), but Scott tells us that “all is fine” in Numazu after the Sendai quake. “(While) we did feel the earthquake,” Scott says, “there were no reported damages in our area.” He then adds, “Oh and a friend told me that the port’s tsunami gate worked like a dream.”
On Wednesday, March 16, Shizouka was awakened by yet another earthquake (magnitude 6.4). A tsunami warning was issued, but again, no major damage was reported.
Radiation levels in Numazu appear to be their biggest concern. “According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan,” Scott writes, “radiation levels in the Shizuoka, while higher than average, are currently not a risk. Levels (on March 16) for Shizuoka were reported to be between 0.089 μGy/h (millirems per hour) and 0.062 μGy/h with an average of o.o62 μGy/h, slightly above the US occupational limit.” Scott then adds, “…you would need to be exposed to that every day for a year before you would be over the US limit. There is no indication to suggest that this level of exposure will continue over a prolonged period of time. So everything appears to be fairly safe so far.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are affected by the disaster in Japan. If you wish to help, please contact the American Red Cross.