Here is some news about Japan from a friend’s blog: http://takameter.wordpress.com/

We have not heard much for awhile about the radiation situation- I think we have not been paying close enough attention to the news.  We are not alarmists, but realize that there are still long-term ramifications on the affects of the nuclear crisis that is still going on.

A missionary friend who lives in Shizuoaka (about an hour south of Tokyo) just wrote this update in an email update to friends and supporters.  This was new information to us:

The papers today revealed that Green Tea in Shizuoka prefecture is “contaminated with radioactive cesium at a level of 679 becquerels per kilogram, above the permitted maximum of 500 becquerels.”  First alerted about this one month ago, the local government  waited until they could do their own testing (and continued to allow the sale of the most valuable first cut green tea) before releasing their results to the public.  42% of the tea produced in Japan comes from our area so this could potentially have a devastating affect on the local economy not to mention the fact that one of my daughters drinks about 2 liters a day of green tea!

2.  AND, the national government just admitted that the nuclear incident was not just a “melt down” but the much more serious “melt through.” They are still not sure (or they aren’t telling us yet)  if or how much radioactive material melted through the containment facility and/or leaked into the ground.

Prime Minister Kan has signaled that he is likely to step down in the next month or so due to the Opposition Party and the nuclear reactor problems that continue.  Today thousands of Japanese staged anti-nuclear demonstrations in Tokyo and other cities as radiation apparently continues to leak out.

LevanjilTV.com news and CNN reports this:  The number of suicides in Japan hit a two-year high in the month of May, according to data released Wednesday by the nation’s authorities.   For the first time in two years, the monthly suicide number topped 3,000 in the month of May, the National Police Agency said.  The report says suicides in Japan totaled 3,281 in May 2011, up nearly 20% from the same month last year.

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That’s quite a lot of awful news. You would think we’d be glad to leave Japan in light of this, but we’re not at all. We are leaving Japan tomorrow and we’re both extremely sad to leave our dear friends behind. I am super excited to see our family and friends in Germany and New Jersey, but our hope is to be back in Japan long-term at some point in the future. For the time being, we have to consider my parents’ failing health before we can make any decisions.

The past week was totally exhausting but filled with happy reunions and lots and lots of talking. As I write this, I am very tired, but it’s a wonderful kind of tired. I don’t have time to write much, so here are some photos.

with former students I used to teach

With friend Teresa and her beautiful new baby!

with friends Michelle and Kana

with Chiemi – my first Japanese teacher and dear friend

delicious, Japanese-style sweets (dango, green tea ice cream, and warabi-mochi)

We’re off to Germany for two weeks and then we fly to New Jersey on June 28th. I’m looking forward to a great summer and many more happy reunions.

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