The first, who lived just outside of the exclusion zone around the reactor in Fukushima, had decided as early as Sunday to get out with her son, and she's on a plane to Canada as I write this. She was planning a move there anyway, this just hastened her plans by a few weeks. Then a friend in Tokyo was encouraged by her family and friends in Germany to get out with her two sons. She is due to move to Bangkok in two weeks, so I suppose that made her decision easier too.
Then today I heard from two more Tokyo friends who live near the sea, and have decided to flee, utterly frazzled by the constant aftershocks and tsunami warnings. I am presuming they will both be back, as both have very established lives here.
Another facebook contact declared she'd had enough, and was leaving - only to have her plane bookings fall through. AFWJ's Tohoku Rep decided to get out today too, and then I heard one more facebook friend and fellow Japan blogger had made the heartbreaking decision to take her daughter to her parents, but come back by herself to Japan. Finally today AFWJ's website coordinator is at this moment researching ways to get out - it's not easy for these people, with trains and buses out of action. The friend I mentioned first took a taxi to the next town.
I wish them all the best of luck getting out, and hope they either come back soon, or find new lives.
Even Kanji mentioned leaving today, the possibility of moving to NZ. First he said, 'But what work could I do?' and we couldn't come up with much apart from opening a service station or working in a sushi restaurant! Then he said 'What about you, you wouldn't be able to find a job'. I said 'Mmm', but then managed to think of about half a dozen things in the next five minutes!
I always thought the decision to leave would be easy, that everyone would be going, that it would be like those images from the last days of the fall of Saigon with women passing children up begging the soliders to take them in the final helicopters. That you'd just KNOW and just GO, but reading these friends' announcements, it's clear that it really is a decision, that they are weighing up their options, and that staying is a valid option.
But no, we are not planning to leave just yet, even though Kanji's exact words were 'Japan's gone to hell'. And that was BEFORE I told him the volcano erupted today...