Courtesy of Steven Negishi
Steven Negishi poses in front of cherry blossoms in Yokosuka, Japan about a week before the earthquake struck.
By Miranda Leitsinger, Senior Writer and Editor, msnbc.com
Steven Negishi’s friends are leaving Japan, his family is bundling up at home to stay warm since there is no heat and the shelves are nearly empty at the stores – but he wants the world to know, Japan “will come back.”
“This country is not going to become a nuclear wasteland,” the 34-year-old Japanese-American said in a phone interview. “I’ve always felt that this country was at a tipping point economically, socially and politically, and the last thing this country needs is the world to turn its back against us because of our government’s ineptness and incompetency. If people are going to start labeling Japanese as unsafe, or Japan as unsafe, it’s going to do major psychiatric damage to all of us.”
Negishi has been working out of his family’s house in Yokosuka, about 30 miles southwest of Tokyo and home to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, since the quake on March 11 upended the country.
Courtesy of Steven Negishi
Stranded passengers glued to NHK Public Broadcast's coverage of the earthquake inside JR Tokyo Station on March 11, the day the quake struck.
“It’s very difficult, the supply shortages and the physical and the mental toll that it takes. We don’t know when this thing is going to end, if the government is … disclosing real information to the public,” said Negishi, who works in the finance industry and lives with his parents and two sisters.
“It was quite a challenge this past week having to work from home,” he said, noting there was no gas in his city. “We cannot go and get kerosene for the kerosene heater, so we just bundle up and try to get through the day.”
His family had been lucky to dodge several scheduled power outages, but they had the first one on Thursday.
“The power went out, the Internet was off and I couldn’t do any work and that’s when it hit me, the severity of it, feeling isolated and lonely and I ended up calling a lot of people… just to try to alleviate the loneliness as well as being in the dark,” he said.
He said his company had offered to relocate him, as other companies are doing – some domestically, others elsewhere in Asia – but he said he needed to look after his family, as the oldest son.
“I can’t abandon them,” he said. “People are leaving left and right, I’ll be honest with you, it’s very sad. And, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to meet these people (again).”
A photo Steven Negishi took of bare grocery store shelves in Tokyo.
Still, he said he thinks the recovery process could bring a renewed sense of hope and a rebirth, which “was lacking in this country for a long, long time,” and said he deeply appreciated international efforts and outreach.
“This is a dire situation. We are all victims of this,” he said. But he noted that Japan has recovered from many natural disasters. “This is going to be a big, big challenge, but we will come back.”