Takeshi's in Tokyo now. Leaving tomorrow. His visit went all too quickly. On Monday I organised a dinner, now that the sale of the business has been safely concluded, to thank some of the people who've helped and supported me over the years. Seven people: the elderly accountant, lawyer, old friend and self-made businessman Sakai-san, the bank manager, Toshiaki, Takeshi and me. It was a lively evening, lots of laughter, and, as I'd hoped, heaps of praise for Toshiaki for pulling the deal off.
There was general agreement that we were very lucky that the sale went ahead in spite of the disaster. Lucky that the contract was so close to being signed and lucky that we were dealing with the leader in the packaging industry, Rengo, who can't so easily renege on a deal.
Most of the conversation is not worth repeating, bits not repeatable, but here are a few things that are perhaps worth passing on. There's not a hotel bed to be had in Koriyama. The town is full of insurers and assessors. The hot spring resorts are doing well, either with evacuees or admin officials from other areas. Pachinko and game centres are doing well, as are taxi companies (since the evacuees have time on their hands, compensation in their pockets and nothing to do!). The restaurants are full of officials in boiler suits out having dinner. Some people have bought geiger counters but, in Sakai-san's opinion, they just make life more stressful.
There was scepticism about the way the monitoring is being carried out and a general realisation that things are probably a lot worse for Fukushima than we think. But this was masked by a kind of black humour since somebody has to stay on and keep things going. Takeshi was relieved to see for himself that we are getting on with life and said he was glad he'd been.
He didn't get to experience an earthquake. There was one today (about force 3) but it was the first noticeable one we've had in a week. Radiation levels here continue to fall (1.28 microsieveltss/hr) but remain high at Fukushima Daiichi. They now say that the melted rods of uranium burned a hole in the bottom of the containment vessel. So that means more leaking radiation. 100,000 tons of contaminated water, increasing by 500 tons per day. Plans to get purification systems going but not up and running yet. Also today the news that reactors that had closed for servicing are not being reopened due to local oppositon and at this rate all 54 reactors (which currently supply 30% of the nation's power) could remain closed by next spring .
So Takeshi heads back to Holland. Laden with Japanese books and DVDs (courtesy of Amazon.jp) for little son Kaj (海) who from just a few months old has responded with enthusiasm to the repetitive, onamatopaeic sounds of Japanese children's stories.
Thank you for coming.
And love to you all