Earlier today we shared an email from Japanese student Kana Igarashi, who attends Santa Monica College in California. She told us about her mother, who is in Fukushima Prefecture, one of the areas hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami, and the site of the nuclear plants that are in danger. Kana's father, grandparents and sisters are also there.
Kana says her family lives about 80km from the nuclear plants. Currently those within 30km have been told to evacuate or stay inside, but the U.S. embassy has advised Americans to stay at least 80km from the plants.
I spoke to her on the phone this morning to find out more.
On how she heard about the earthquake. I only know me from Fukushima, and my friends know that I’m the only one from Fukushima in this college. Many of my friends called me to call to Japan because they found out that the earthquake hit my area – my prefecture and then the next prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture.
On the first 24 hours and hearing news from her family. I actually was really really worried about it – worried about them. I couldn’t go to sleep. I was just watching the NHK news on the internet. And then I really got scared because my prefecture is really in countryside and I didn’t really expect that many cities I know and then my city is on TV. And then seeing those disasters on TV all the time and then I wasn’t able to talk to my family.
In the daytime everyone tried to call to their family in the north and then the connection is really packed. But still there is some way to contact with them. So what my parents did was woke up like 2 in the morning to call me.”
On her family staying in Fukushima. I talked to my mom yesterday too, actually, last night. She also told me how many victims are trying to save other victims and then people in Fukushima are trying to stay in Fukushima to help those people who are in worse areas. And my parents are even donating stuff like blankets and stuff because it’s really really cold over there.
So I really really am proud of my family, but at the same time I really just want them to run away from prefecture because it’s already the nuclear radiation.
On what happens next. I was hoping that I can go back to Japan after graduation, which is around July this year. But the thing is, my mom also said I should be here, probably. ‘You should change your plan,’ that’s what my mom said.
It’s really sad to think about, but my family are thinking that Fukushima the city might not be able to be the place to live anymore for probably 10 more years since the radiation is all around. And the water probably people cannot grow anything. People cannot survive in Fukushima. My mom thought that it might be a good idea that I am here, then they might be able to come here. They might have to come here to be with me if that’s possible.
On watching the news. It’s actually too difficult to watch. I don’t want to really feel depressed all day. I know what my parents would want me to do is go to school normally and study so that I can be successful in the future and I can support them probably.
So I know that many other Japanese students are not coming to school and are crying and watching TV all day, but I am more like those people who are trying to move on and I try to be positive. I don’t want to watch those TVs which show still earthquakes are hitting Japan and radiation exploded again.
On the support of her classmates. People are starting to donate money to Japan and Red Cross are trying to collect money for Japan. My college also are supporting Japanese students right now. They also emailed me, ‘how’s everything.’
I feel like I’m not alone and I feel like I’m really happy that I was Japanese. People are helping Japanese people right now.
We closed the phone call by saying that we'll talk again once her family is out of danger, and we can have a happy conversation. I hope that time will come very soon.