Reactors 'out of control'
Photo: AP
Ariel Steiner - leaving Japan with heavy heart
Photo: Ariel Steiner

Israelis flee Japan

Many Israelis leaving quake-stricken country over nuclear disaster fears. Talking to Ynet they explain their internal conflicts, family pressures and why Japanese locals seem so calm: 'TV reports say everything is fine, not showing what foreign channels are showing.' IAEA: Situation at nuclear plant 'reasonably stable'

Israeli citizens residing in Japan have been abandoning the capital Tokyo over the past few days for fear of a nuclear disaster, this following reports that the situation at the Fukushima reactors is out of control.


Earlier, Israel's Foreign Ministry recommended that all citizens leave Tokyo and head to the south or even consider leaving Japan entirely, but it seems that many Israelis decided not to wait for the travel warning and chose to leave beforehand. Those who remained in Japan are anxiously awaiting a flight that would take them farther away from the nuclear hazard.


"I don't think there is anyone left in Tokyo that doesn't have to be there, Israeli or foreign. Everyone I know has left," Gili Shperling an Israeli living in Japan told Ynet. Shperling, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday, said that from talks he had with friends who are still in Japan "the situation is entirely different, they are also extremely stressed".


Shimrit Mizono, a resident of the city of Chiba spoke to Ynet just as another tremor shook her home. "There is another earthquake, things are falling around us, it's frightening," she stated, "over the past two hours the earth hasn't stopped shaking. They say it is three to four on the Richter scale."

Shimrit Mizono and family - 'I hope it's not too late' 


On Saturday she is set to leave Japan with her Japanese husband and two children, a three year old girl and a seven month old boy. "I just hope it isn't too late," she noted.


Mizono, who has been living in the land of the rising sun for over a decade, also said that nearly all her Israeli acquaintances have left Japan. "Everybody here was worried. The Japanese are relatively calm because the TV reports say that everything is fine, plus that's their nature – to accept everything with reserve and restraint. The local TV isn't showing what the foreign channels are showing."


Counting the hours

Yet it isn't easy to leave Japan these days, and Mizono is asking the Foreign Ministry to help Israelis: "This is an emergency situation, it's hard to get plane tickets, and they are taking advantage of the situation and charging outrageous prices.


"We are counting the hours. They say that the radiation has spread to an area 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Fukishima and we're just 200 kilometers (124 miles) from there; you start to worry that this is the end."


Ariel Steiner, an Israeli who has been living in Tokyo for the last three years told Ynet that he decided to pack his bags and leave Japan "to pacify my mother". In a conversation with Ynet he explained why he decided to leave after days of indecision: "It seems that things here are out of control.


"There have been additional explosions in the reactor area and the information coming through has been conflicting – the Americans say one thing, the Japanese deny the claims and that indicates real confusion. You could say that I'm disappointed, I left Japan with a heavy heart."


According to Steiner, many of his foreign friends left Japan, as well as some of the Japanese locals, but not nearly as many. "The Japanese see things differently," he explained, "unlike the foreigners who one by one pack their bags and disappear some out of Japan and some to the western regions of the country.

'Empty streets, empty shelves in supermarkets' (Photo: AP) 


"Meanwhile the Japanese are trying to maintain the daily routine at any price and continue working. The last images I have of Tokyo are of empty streets, empty shelves in supermarkets and people who prefer to shut themselves in their homes."


Efrat Aderi, the wife of Chabbad's Tokyo representative said that the majority of Israelis did indeed leave the city and the country. "We have been in constant contact with the Israelis and are on the alert here," she said.


Purim as usual

"Except for my husband who went to help with aid efforts in Sendai, we try not to leave the house and keep getting updates if something changes or if the situation worsens." 


In her opinion, the Japanese are also frightened. "They don't talk about it too much, they worry in silence, that's the Japanese way of doing things," she noted. "We follow the rebbe's path, there are people who we can help, and the brain needs to trust the heart."


And in spite of everything, the Chabbad House isn't planning on giving up on its annual traditional Purim party. "There are a few Jews left here and we plan on giving them a Purim party at the Chabbad house so that the tragedy will become a celebration of joy and happiness," Aderi explained.


A senior UN nuclear watchdog official described the situation at Japan's disaster-hit nuclear power plant as "reasonably stable" compared to the previous day.


"But it is still possible that it could get worse," Graham Andrew, a senior official at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told a news conference Thursday.


Reuters, Ronen Medzini contributed to this report.



פרסום ראשון: 03.17.11, 18:56
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