Dr. Takatoshi Okuno, awoke, “unusually early” last Friday, as the world now knows, he awoke into a nightmare.
“There was no reason for me to wake up but when I did I reached for my laptop to check my emails,” said the auditory systems expert at the University of Ulster, Magee.
Takatoshi rose at 6.30am Irish time, it was 2pm in Japan. Roughly the time of the quake.
“That was how I learned of the earthquake.” Immediately Takatoshi telephoned his parents. “I managed to get through immediately on Skype, thankfully they are OK.”
Understandably Takatoshi has been fixating on news sources ever since. Japan, having been struck with a force nine earth quake, a tsunami and now a threatened nuclear meltdown, is also suffering rolling power cuts, as well food and supply shortages.
“My parents who live 400kms from the disaster wanted to send some food parcels to the worst affected areas, but shops are sold out of noodles and other essentials. People are stockpiling food. Food is as hard to find as accurate information.
“Both are massive problems for ordinary people.
“Tokyo is in darkness which is very unusual.”
As he knows his parents are safe, Takatoshi has restricted his calls home, as: “I know my parents are safe. It is very hard to get through on the phone so I left the lines to people who live closer to the disaster zones. You have to do what little you can.”
Coping with earthquakes is in the Japanese psyche: “There is a national drill every September 1st.”
That said Takatoshi admits: “I do want to go home, it is very difficult and you feel isolated from the whole experience. It is very frustrating.” Takatoshi is particularly frustrated by the gap in information provided by the Japanese government and other sources. “I will have to wait to go there myself before I know exactly how things are.”
There are silver linings, which Takatoshi has identified. “It is the biggest disaster in generations but the people of Derry have been so kind.
“People all over the world has been so kind, rescue teams have left the disaster zone in New Zealand to help in Japan.
“Over 90 countries have sent support teams and all of Japan are very thankful for that help.”