OSAKA, Japan – All four of the Washington State University students studying in Japan this semester say they will remain there to complete their work.
The students are living in Osaka, which is about 500 miles from the areas hardest hit by the recent earthquake. They are part of WSU’s Education Abroad program.
Shelby Shuler wrote that life for her has changed little in the wake of the powerful quake:
“I live in Osaka, which was almost completely unaffected by the earthquake and its after effects other than almost imperceptible shaking. As for the nuclear plants, they are too far away to cause any problems in Osaka, and from what I can see, they are bringing the situation under control.”
She said there are a number of students who have made the choice to leave:
“Many students have fled the country, either returning home or going to other countries. Many European students have returned home, especially the French and Germans, but most have plans to return within two weeks.”
Similar sentiments were shared by Doug Lomheim, who wrote, “Until someone tells me I have to leave, I will be staying.
“I’ve heard that the radiation levels are not enough to worry about outside of a 30-mile radius of Fukushima, and even within that radius the only ones in any significant danger are the nuclear plant workers still working to stabilize the plant,” said Lomheim. “As I am over 500 miles away, I’m not worried in the least.”
Asian studies student Kelsey Hoskins said she will continue with her plans to tour parts of the country:
“I’m planning on staying in Japan for now. My dad’s here now and we’re planning on traveling around in the southern bits of Japan. I don’t feel any danger for our area of Japan, and as far as I know, even the radiation levels in Tokyo are normal and they’re much closer to the nuclear plants than we are.”
Jocelyn Irle said she too plans on staying:
“As things stand, I’m not currently considering leaving Japan. The Kansai area was almost entirely unaffected by the earthquake, and only a few were perceptive enough to feel the quakes. As far as the radiation scare is concerned, all data I’ve received indicates that radiation levels here (in Osaka) are still within the average range, and pose no health hazard.”
The students are studying through Japan’s Kansai Gaidai University, which is well south of the country’s troubled nuclear power plants. Yet one frustration most have shared is that there isn’t more they can do to help.
“One sentiment that most of us do share is our desire to go up and help the families who have had their lives destroyed by this disaster,” wrote Schuler. “Unfortunately, there is nothing we can physically do at this time, but we are eager for the day when the Japanese government will accept volunteers to help with cleanup.
“For now, we are staying away from the area, so as not to drain resources or get in the way of relief efforts. There are also several groups on campus accepting donations, which many of us have contributed to.”