Letter from Fukushima: A Vietnamese-Japanese police officer’s account
Editor’s note: This letter, written by a Vietnamese immigrant working in Fukishima as a policeman to a friend in Vietnam, is circulated on facebook among the Vietnamese Diaspora. It is an extraordinary testimony to the Japanese spirit and strength and dignity. And it’s an interesting slice of life near the epic center of Japan’s current crisis, the Fukushima’s nuclear power plant.
Brother, how are you and your family? These last few days everything was in chaos. If I close my eyes, I see dead bodies. If I open my eyes, I also see dead bodies. Each one of us have to work 20 hours a day. Yet I wish we had 48 hours in a day so that we can continue to go help rescue folks.
We are without water and electricity, and food ration is near zero. We barely manage to move refugees and there are new orders to move them elsewhere.
I am currently in Fukushima, about 25 kilometers away from the nuclear power plant. I have so much to tell you that if I could write it all down it would surely turn into a novel about human relationships and behavior during time of crisis.
The other day I ran into a Vietnamese American. His name is Toan and he is an engineer working at Fukushima 1 and he was wounded right at the beginning when the earthquake struck. With the chaos that ensued no one helped him communicate with his family. When I ran into him I contacted the US embassy and I have to admit that I admire the Americans’ swift action: they sent a helicopter immediately to the hospital and took him to their military base.
But the foreign students from Vietnam are not so lucky. I still have not received any news from them, and if there are exact names and addresses of where they work and so on, it would be easier to find out as to their fate. In Japan the police do not keep such exact data of residency the way they do in Vietnam and privacy law here makes it difficult to find them. I met a Japanese woman who worked with seven Vietnamese women who are here foreign students. Their work place is only 3 km from the ocean and she said that they don’t’ really understand Japanese and when they fled they followed her. But when she checked back they were gone. Now she didn’t know if they managed to survive. She remembers one woman’s name Nguyen thi Huyen (or Hien).
No representatives from the Vietnamese embassy have shown even though on the Vietnamese news on the internet they say that they are very concerned about Vietnamese citizens in Japan, all of it a lie.
Even us policemen are hungry and thirsty so can you imagine what those Vietnamese foreign students are going through? The worst things here right now are the cold, the hunger and thirst, the lack of water and electricity. The people here remain calm, and their sense of dignity and proper behavior are very good so things aren’t as bad as they could be. But given another week I can’t guarantee that things wont’ get to a point where there would no way we can provide proper protection and order. They are humans after all, and when hunger and thirst override dignity, well, they will do what they have to do. The government is trying to provide air supply, bringing in food and medicine but it’s like dropping a little salt into the ocean.
Brother, there are so many stories I want to tell you but there are so many that I don’t know how to write them. But there was a really moving incident. It involves a little Japanese boy and he taught an adult like me a lesson on how to behave as human being.
Last night, I was sent to a little grammar school to help a charity organization distribute food to the refugees. It was a long line the snaked this way and that and I saw a little boy around 9 years old. He was wearing a t-shirt and pair of shorts.
It was getting very cold and the boy was at the very end of the line. I was worried that by the time his turn came there wouldn’t be any food left. So I talked to him.
He said he was in the middle of PE at school when the earthquake happened. His father worked nearby and was driving to the school. He was on the third floor balcony and he saw the tsunami sweep his father’s car away. I asked him about his mother and he said his house is right by the beach, and that his mother and little sister probably didn’t make it. He turned his head and wiped his tears when I asked about his relatives.
The boy was shivering so I took off my police jacket and put it on him. That’s when my bag of food ration fell out. I picked it up and gave it to him. “When it comes to your turn, they might run out of food. So here’s my portion. I already ate. Why don’t you eat it.”
The boy took my food and bowed. I thought he would eat it right away but not at all. He took the bag of food and went up where the line end and put it where all the food was waiting to be distributed. I was really shocked. I asked him why he didn’t eat it and instead add it to the food.
He answered: “Because I see a lot more people hungrier than I am. If I put it there then they would distribute the food equally.”
When I heard that I turned away so that people didn’t see me cry. It was so moving. Who knew a 9 year old in 3rd grade can teach me a lesson on how to be a human being in a time of great suffering? A powerful lesson on sacrifice and giving. A society that can a produce a nine year old who understands about sacrifice for the greater good has got to be a great society, a great people.
It reminds me of a phrase that I learned in school on capitalist theories from old man Fuwa [Tetsuzo], Chairman of Japanese Communist Party: “If Marx comes back to life, he will have to add a phrase to his book, Capital, and that’s ‘Communist ideology is only successful in Japan.’
Well, a few lines to send you and your family my warm wishes. The hours of my shift has begun again.
Ha Minh Thanh
The Philippine Consulate General in Osaka reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that 12 slightly injured Filipinos who figured in a road accident in Kameyama City, Mie Prefecture were discharged from the hospital.
Nine other seriously injured Filipinos remain confined in six different hospitals.
The victims were involved in a road accident when their minibus collided with a truck at an intersection at about 7:45 a.m., Sunday. Six other passengers perished in the accident.
The 26 Filipinos, including one naturalized Japanese citizen, were on the way to work at the Sharp Kameyama facility. The minibus driver, a Japanese citizen, was also among the injured.
Kameyama police authorities arrested the truck driver, 45-year old Takao Moriwaki. The truck driver was required to stop at the crossroad.
In an earlier statement, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration released the names of the fatalities as Mabini Bangi Paler III, 30 year old; Analou Paler Dogami, 30; Randy Bayron Cornel, 30; Alma Dula Adarlo, 33; Remedios Bertoldo Cargullo, 24; and Ceferino Salengua Pedro Jr., 28.
According to the President of the Sharp Kamemaya, Ms. Adarlo was a Japanese citizen. The rest are classified as nikei-jin (of Japanese descent) or holders of long-term Japanese resident visas.
Two among those injured are trainees.
Together with their employer Sharp Kameyama, the Consulate General is working on the documentation requirements for the disposition of the victims’ remains, as well as extending assistance to those that are in the hospital, among others, the DFA press release said.
21 June 2010—The World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Regional Trade Agreements (CRTA) is considering the Japan – Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), according to its chair Ambassador Alfredo Suescum of Panama in Geneva last June 15.
The WTO General Council established the CRTA to examine individual regional trade agreement (RTAs). The Transparency Mechanism for Regional Trade Agreements adopted on 14 December 2006 governs the process.
DTI Senior Undersecretary Thomas Aquino heads the Philippine delegation and is the lead negotiator for the JPEPA. Officials from the National Economic Development Authority, Board of Investments, Bureau of International Trade Relations, Department of Agriculture, Tariff Commission, Department of Justice, and Bureau of Customs, as well as officers of the Philippine Mission to the WTO composed the Philippine Delegation.
Deputy Permanent Representative Kuni Sato of the Japanese Mission to the WTO heads the Japanese delegation. He said: “The conclusion of the EPA with a country like the Philippines, which is one of the core countries of ASEAN, would create a positive and demonstrative impact on other economies, particularly those in East Asia, and help further develop and enhance the comprehensive economic partnership within the region as a whole.”
Senior Undersecretary Aquino said that “Japan and the Philippines have a positive and forward-looking economic partnership, and that Japan is the Philippines’ largest trading partner within East Asia Region and has sustained its position as the Philippines second largest global trading partner.”
Aquino further stated that “the JPEPA underwent fine scrutiny from Members, which contributed to the better understanding of the Agreement’s objectives and specific provisions by WTO Members.” Japan and the Philippines both prepared the joint written replies as well as responded to questions from the floor.
The JPEPA was signed in Finland on 09 September 2006 and entered into force on 11 December 2008.
Aside from the JPEPA, the CRTA likewise considered the free trade agreement between Australia and Chile.