I woke up this morning still adamant that I will remain in Tokyo. In fact the British embassy specifically advises against evacuating from Tokyo. However, it never hurts to have options, and there is a fine line between panicking needlessly and being adequately prepared. I thus agreed to go with some friends to the immigration bureau in Saitama to get a re-entry permit. This means that if I do have to leave Japan (which I won’t), I will be allowed back into the country. Needless to say many other people had the same idea, and so I spent six hours queuing around and inside one of the most oppressive buildings in Tokyo, with the cold March air meaning that I needed assistance in filling in the forms, as I had lost the use of my hands. After about 3 hours we handed in our passports, received a ticket and went downstairs to wait for them to be processed. Almost immediately our numbers were called out, however any joy was quickly tempered by the realisation that a hastily scribbled ‘1’ had actually been written on the front of my ticket. It took another 3 hours to process those 1000 people. I am pretty certain that this will be a complete waste of a day, but like I say it doesn’t hurt to have options.
The efficiency and calmness of the officials at the immigration bureau was a joy to behold; if only the same could be said about certain elements of the media coverage. I was having just such a rant with one of my friends on the train ride home, when who should approach us but a journalist from the New York Times, wanting to know if we intended to flee Japan. I pointed out to him that as a Dr of Physics (certainly not the last time that I will pull rank I imagine), the only concerns I had were of the diabolical coverage by the Western media, and that I fully intended to stay in Tokyo until specifically instructed to do otherwise. Incidentally this journalist had been flown over by the NYT to specifically cover the ‘incident’. Says it all really doesn’t it.