I just finished reading 2:46 – Aftershocks (aka #Quakebook). Hats off to all involved in this sterling fundraising effort for Tohoku disaster relief. One week after the disaster up north, blogger Our Man in Abiko had a brainwave and tweeted it. People far and wide responded, wrote, edited, translated and submitted artwork and now the finished e-book is available for download on amazon.com & amazon.co.uk. 100% of the full purchase price goes to the Japanese Red Cross and in the time it took me to read it, on its first day of availability it became the best-selling current events book on amazon. All in all that’s a very impressive achievement.
The book is a collection of accounts, by people in Tohoku, Tokyo, and further afield of how the disaster and its reverberations have impacted on their lives. Some of the accounts are very sad:
People of the Tohoku region are stoic, compassionate, calm and humble. They have always just dealt with the situation without complaining. Of course they have questions and fears, but they hesitate to show them as they know other people are experiencing far worse.
They don’t expect the government will help them, but they’ve made up their minds to stay here and fight. Rumors about radiation pollution continue to grow. What have we done to deserve this? We are suffering like others in disaster affected areas. The difference is we have an unnatural and unseen danger to deal with. Please don’t abandon Fukushima. Please see the reality. Please give us accurate and timely information. Please get this nightmare power station under control as soon as possible. And please know that Fukushima is doing its best.
This was written by Yuki Watanabe whose hometown Tamura is right on the outer edge of the evacuation zone. I used to live in Fukushima and have taught at Tamura high school. I find it so hard to believe that this beautiful prefecture, my former home, has now become famous for all the wrong reasons. It breaks my heart to think that on top of the tragedy of the disaster the people of Fukushima have a nuclear nightmare to deal with too. But there are other words of wisdom and encouragement too such as this from Grandfather Hibiki in Sendai:
I’ve lived for many years. Night has always turned to day and rain has never failed to cease. Conditions have greatly improved during this week, and will get even better next week. This is a manifestation of the fighting spirit of someone born in the first decade of the Showa period. We need to stay strong.
Another account from South Korea of former victims of Japanese imperialism, offering messages of sincere and heartfelt comfort and consolation had me in tears. Sometimes tragedies really do bring out the best in people.
Please invest in a copy. It is both a record of a terrible tragedy and a means to a very important end. There are some star names in there too, such as Barry Eisler, Yoko Ono and the great William Gibson. I was also pleasantly surprised to find a couple of people I know personally in there: my old friend Ted Taylor for example and a newer acquaintance, Wesley Cheek. What unites the various contributors is love for Japan and a simple desire to help. To download the Kindle e-book, you need to download a Kindle reader to your PC or smart phone first, but that’s EASILY done and more importantly FREE. And like I said, every penny or cent you pay for the book goes towards the Japanese Red Cross and will help those people in Tohoku who have suffered so much. How could you say no?