What now for Japan?

The question that everyone asks me right now is “so, are you still going to Japan?”

The answer is increasingly that of “I don’t know.”

I have been keeping a very close eye on the nuclear powerplant situation. Should there be the possibility of radioactive fallout fall in Kyoto and further south then we will have no choice but to cancel our trip. Hopefully Jetstar will be kind enough to comply penalty, as they have been for those destined for Tokyo before Friday.

But so far, the south seems safe enough and is not shut down due to power cuts. These alone mean that Tokyo is probably off our list of destinations. I had attempted to book a hotel there before the tsunami through Zuji for an excellent price, but the payment kept being refused. After the frustration of chasing it up through Zuji and the bank I’m now glad that I was forced to book through Expedia, who offered a fully flexible, though more expensive, booking option.

I was watching ABC television coverage of the aftermath of the tsunami and the reporter was pictured in Tono. I’ve wanted to go there for a while, too see the kappa statues and buy a book of fairytales for Alex. But now I wonder when I’ll have the chance. We’ve never seen the Tohoku region, it’s where we were planning to go. I poured over maps showing obscure railway lines and towns that most of the world had never heard of until now.

Many of those towns and railway lines are gone now, washed away. Will they ever be rebuilt? Can Japan afford these low patronage rural lines anymore? I’ve tried to travel on them with the knowledge that their future is limited as Japan’s population declines and moves to the major cities, as the country’s economy becomes more moribund. Now I fear that I am too late, that this earthquake will hasten the decline of Japan.

I feel sad for all those that lost lives and livelihoods, but I feel sad for the future of Japan as well.

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