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Oh the times, they are a’changing …

A few posts ago I wrote about my missions for 2012.

I've been living and working in Japan for over 5.5 years. It's had its ups and downs. I've enjoyed life here lots, and I've sometimes hated life here lots.

After the Magnitude 9 earthquake hit on 2011-03-11, things kind of went downhill. A couple of months later, the company I worked for – $WeMakeExpensiveNetworkingEquipmentLtd (name withdrawn to protect the guilty) – decided to close down the entire Japan Failure Analysis Dept. – guess who was working in that dept. ? That's right, I was!

Since then it has been quite difficult for me with no job on the horizon. That was a big factor in what's happening now.

Another factor is that as a non-Japanese living in Japan – I simply will not be able to thrive here, regardless of whether I could speak Japanese like a native or not. There will always be a certain amount of obstacles in the way – some of them insurmountable. I won't go into what they are for fear of upsetting some folks. Lets just say I personally don't find Japan as a whole to be particularly foreigner-friendly if you are actually living there as opposed to being just a tourist who'll eventually be leaving. Sure, I know an awful lot of great Japanese people here and like them loads, but as a Nation… well what I said before, I find to be the case. No offense, Japan is what Japan is, and to be honest I completely accept that it is that way. No grudges here. I've not managed to learn the language after all these years of living here, and frankly, I've lost interest in any further attempt. Japan is quite unforgiving if you can't speak the lingo – again, I completely understand that and even agree with the attitude! I think the same thing about people coming to the UK – if you can't speak the language then you're in trouble.

Another factor is – I question the wisdom of me keeping my wife and son here in Japan, what with all the natural disasters that happen here every year. After the March 11th megaquake, and the Fukushima nuclear plant explosions, I asked my son if he felt safe living here. We actually live in Koriyama city, Fukushima prefecture. My house is just 33 miles (54km) due West of the Fukushima dai-ichi nuclear power plant. When all the drama was happening at the time and the reactors were exploding, it was looking quite grim. The food and fuel supply chain was broken, due to damage to roads and the rail network. That wasn't so bad for us, as I'd for some reason gotten into Prepping (preparing for a disaster) about a year beforehand, so we had about 2 months of supplies to hand – the only thing which got me was I had stopped bothering with fuel storage and rotation before the quake, so the only gasoline we had was whatever was in the 2 cars we had. I can tell you now that going underneath a Honda Orthia and draining the gasoline from the tank via a bolt at the bottom of the tank, into a metal bowl, meanwhile worrying about what radiation may be falling around you outide, is NOT fun. I used the gas I drained from the tank to fill up the tank of our Suzuki Wagon R. I wanted a full tank of gas in case we needed to bail out of Koriyama and head for somewhere where a radioactive cloud could not reach us.

It turned out that we were lucky. The plume from the nuke plant explosions travelled north-west towards Fukushima city, then turned round and got blown south. Whilst it did reach Koriyama city, it just so happened that it didn't quite come over my area, which lies on the far eastern outskirts of the city. In April of that year I managed to purchase a geiger-counter which at that time cost WAY over the odds (because EVERYONE wanted to buy one), and at its peak, I measured about 0.28uSv/hr around my house. Currently it's about 0.24uSv/hr – so I presume what's left is radioactive Cesium (and other more long half-life materials). In the center of Koriyama about 2 months after the nuclear disaster I was measuring between 5 to 8 uSv/hr outside a friend's house.

Back to my question to my 10 year old son, and did he feel safe living in Japan – the answer I got back was an emphatic "No".

The lastest factor is that there's a 70% chance of a huge quake occurring in or near Tokyo within the next 4 years or so. Once that happens then life in Japan will become especially difficult – I think after an event like that there will be a HUGE collapse of the economy, which is already bad enough here already, plus other effects from that I can't even begin to imagine.

Anyway, the bottom line is that late last year I decided that I'd had enough of Japan, due to the above main factors, and that the best course of action for me and mine, was to sell up and move back to my home country, Scotland.

We have now found buyers for my house, and contracts have been signed, and I'm now quite busy preparing for that move.

This means that I'm going to be extremely busy with Real Life, meaning that my online projects are going for a bit of a break for now. Blogging will be VERY light from now on until me and mine get ourselves sorted out in Scotland. I'll keep an eye on the blog and will approve comments, do site maintenance etc. If anything really urgent comes by, I'll see what I can do.

So, with a bit of luck, and fortune favouring the foolish ;) I'll be fully back up and running before the end of the year :)

Thanks to everyone who have brought suggestions and improvements to the software, and to those people who have made donations!

Don't abandon the site just yet – like Arnie, I'LL BE BACK!

Regards to everyone :) and see you on the other side!

Kevin.

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