Column of the Day: Escape plan

Having warned about the spreading contamination ,I did not do so much to protect myself but buying bottled water and eat frozen veges.

Winter is coming. Wind will blow from North.

On 9/14,they detected 133 times much as back ground radiation from the rain in St. Louis.

(He should not have put the counter directly on the plate.)

The plume is expected to hit Tokyo directly in this winter.

I might be alright next spring.

The level of internal exposure might not be harmful at this moment.

However,in the long term,it is impossible to live in this situation.

Even if I can survive,foreign companies are withdrawing from Japan.

Radiation risk will decrease the investment from overseas.

Economy will not bloom in this country never.

There is no merit to stay here,and the risk is too much to take.

so I’m planning to move out of Japan by 11/19/2011.

■ Destination

1) Romania

A friend of mine recommended me to move to. and Euro is cheap. Prices are cheaper than Japan too. Without a job,I could survive for 3 months in I expect to be able to survive in Romania for 9 months till I find a job.

2) Chile

The admin ,Nika recommended me to move to. I have been conned by a Chilean customer before.He owes me about 4000 USD. It’s time to rip him off. I heard the economy is the most developed in Chile among South America.(If I’m wrong,I’m sorry for other countries.) Prices must be cheap too.

So far,I have prepared nothing. so I will keep my escaping diary here.

I’m a civil engineer now,but I’m no longer meant to be a civil engineer where I evacuated to.I’m not interested in the industry at all.

I will go to Romania or Chile with a tourist visa and will seek for a job locally.

■ Bottle neck

1) My turtle boys.

I have two turtle boys. They are assumed to be 20 years old.20cm long. I need to check if I can bring them to Romania or Chile.

2) Leaving this apartment.

I have tons of waste here. It costs to abandon them. Also, I have damaged the room ,so repairing may cost. I’m afraid of the damage.

3) Home

I’d like to arrange where to live before I actually go,so I can send furniture by sea mail,which takes long but cheap.

■ Next steps

1) Check up the websites of the embassy of Romania and Chile.

2) Ask them if I can bring my turtle boys safe.

3) Ask the owner of this apartment about how much it costs to repair.

■ My ambition

I’d love to keep this blog going on,and hopefully,want to make it more profitable so I can concentrate on spreading news about Japan.

If you have any idea,please leave comments here.

Fortunately,I have no property or family to take care of here in Japan,and no loan to pay either.

  1. I am crying after reading your post here. It’s HEARTBREAKING that the Japanese Gov isn’t EVACUATING ALL OF JAPAN! I’m sorry…so sorry. Watching this whole crisis unfold is beyond anything I ever imagined happening.
    HUGS TO YOU. 🙁

    1. Merci. I really thank you for your understanding. We will be the race without home land. That’s how we must be. but radiation will wrap all around on the planet. You do take care please. and Beware of the food.

  2. You are one of the lucky few who can evacuate as you have a good command of English
    and enough money to support yourself until you find a job. I’m sure you could find work teaching Japanese in the UK . You have my email address. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Good luck.

  3. I think many of us underestimate the difficulty in re-locating to a different country.
    My best wishes to you in your efforts.
    If it is possible for you to re-locate to the Southern Hemisphere, that would be the prudent choice, IMO.
    Good luck!

  4. I don’t know about Chile but in Brazil a lot of foreigners are moving in, specially engineers, that are much need in this time of economic boom.

    It even pays more than in New York and this momentum will last for at least 20 years, I guess. It’s all about the huge reserves of oil found deep in the seas of Brazil.

    Here are the most japanese descendants outside Japan, also.

    Chile is alright too, or even Argentina.

  5. Be warned it is very, very difficult to get jobs in the EU if you don’t organize it beforehand.

    You are only allowed to stay in any EU country for **three months** as a tourist. If you stay longer, you will have a problem. They can expel you and not allow to come back for years.

    Also, it is almost impossible to change the type of visa. Even if you get work, you have to leave and change the visa from tourist to work visa first.

    I am southern European, but not from the EU. I grew up in the EU but I don’t have legal residence there (my parents didn’t take care of that). I speak 7 European languages (I’m an academic and a language freak), I have a lot of friends, etc.

    All that didn’t help and I could NOT get residence there except through fake marriage, which I didn’t want. So I had to leave Europe and 10 years later I still can’t get permanent residence there. I go only as a tourist.

    BUT — because you are trained as an engineer, you might get lucky. Just PLEASE, PLEASE be aware that because of the tight visa regulations you might have to leave Romania after three months even if you find a job.

    In that respect, South America (including Brazil) is much better.

    Canada, Australia and NZ are also good options, because it’s a lot easier to get work visas, but they are more expensive to live in, and you have to wait for a couple of months for paperwork to be done. I don’t know if you have the time to wait. I don’t think you should wait.

    So unless you have really good connections and promised work in Romania, I would bet on other places.

    PLEASE take my advice seriously, I would be miserable to see you suffer because you did not get adequate information. Most people in Japan, the US or western Europe don’t have paper and residence problems, they have no idea how difficult it can get.

    Best wishes!!!

    1. M.X.,
      it seems that, in case of Romania, foreigners can stay one year in RO under the following circumstances; if they stay a little less than 3 month, than spend at least one day in other country, when enter RO again get 3 month visa again. In short,
      “3 months IN, one day OUT”, but only 4 times IN within 1 year – the 5th time they need to apply for residence permit.

      Does anyone know about this kind of procedure? I asked on a RO forum, but got no answer yet.

      On the other hand, M.X., I think just like you:
      it would be good for Iori san to prepare himself for teaching Japanese; most of my Japanese teachers in Romania could speak only Japanese and English.

      Other solution I think it would be to enroll at an university first, because this should guarantee his visa for the period he’s a student…

      In RO , for example:
      1 year university fee: 1980 euro + visa 120 euro.
      If he enrolls at the Department of Japanese Studies, University of Bucharest, for example, with English as the 2nd language, will be easier (+ the diploma is recognized in many European counties.)
      In the meantime, he could teach Japanse in private

      1. I’m very glad to hear that.

        No doubt regulations are a bit easier at this point because Romania is not completely integrated in the EU yet. My experiences are with Germany, the Netherlands and France. In each of them, it is almost impossible to get residence.

        Enrolling at a university is definitely a good solution for the residence problem, but this year it is too late, because in Europe and the US, school year starts in September.

        Now the questions are:

        1. Can a tourist visa be converted into a student or a work visa without major problems?
        2. Does he need to prove that he has health care and that he has enough money to live (usually done through bank statement)
        3. Does he need to know Romanian in order to enroll at the university?

        1. Hi, M.X.,
          Well, Romania and Bulgaria have just been left outside Schengen space for an indefinite time…

          To answer at your 3 questions:

          Before coming to Romania, the non –EU citizens should obtain a valid visa for study in
          Romania from the Romanian embassies in their own countries.
          “Once you receive the letter of acceptance to study the educational institution in Romania will have to attend Romanian Embassy or Consulate of your country, so you can submit documents for the release of long-stay visa for studies”

          “The citizens from non-EU countries can be registered for studies in Romania without entry examination, by supplementing enrollment figure approved for Romanian

          Yes, he needs to prove he has enough money to sustain himself for a year:
          it seems that this means (in Romania) minimum 200 euro/month
          = 2.400 euro / year.
          he needs to prove he has a place to stay (to rent an apartment in advance, or find someone who allows him stay in his house).

          The health insurance can be payed in JP or RO.

          “If you do not know Romanian, will have to follow a preparatory year for learning the Romanian language, which will be completed with a diploma. (fee: 1960euro)

          Duration: one school year (September to June)

          Entry: is made in late August
          or during the course
          ==does it mean he can enroll anytime of the year???==,
          following that the hours lost to be recovered”

        2. However, there are universities in English language, he could enroll at a master course, for example:

          Technical University of Civil Engineering of Bucharest
          • Civil Engineering


          “International Recognition of Romanian Diplomas

          Through commitments assumed at the European level, focused on quality assurance, credit transfer and ransparency of educational programmes description,
          qualifications (diplomas) obtained in the Romanian Higher Education ensured the
          academic and professional mobility of the graduates all over the world.”

  6. PS

    Also please be aware that there is A LOT more criminality in South America than in Europe or Japan. You have to make sure your goods are shipped safely. There are people who would want to steal from you when they see that you don’t know Spanish (or Portuguese, depending on the country). So you have to very careful about those things.

    But it is also true that people in South America are a lot friendlier and warmer than many Europeans. It’s a lot easier to be an immigrant there than in Europe.

    And as “Someone” in the post above said, there is a large Japanese community in Brazil. Not all of them speak Japanese, but it might be easier for you emotionally.

    1. The most dangerous countries of Latin America are Mexico and Colombia. I didn’t go to Chile yet, but I guess it is pretty safe there.

      1. Certainly there is a lot more criminality in Brazil and in Chile than in most of western Europe or Japan.

        Especially in Brazil, as a foreigner without knowledge of Portuguese, you have to choose your apartment location carefully. People who grow up there learn it quickly, but people who come into the country without knowing it and without having friends are at a greater risk.

        This is not a value judgment, simply a fact.

        I am a European living in the US, and the US is also a lot more unsafe than most of Europe. There are neighborhoods which are completely safe, but many others are only safe during the day.

        I don’t like cars, so I don’t drive, but I have to walk at night. In the US, I have to be a lot more careful than in Europe, where I would walk at 2 AM in the morning and never feel in danger.

        But as I said, Brazilians and south Americans in general are a lot friendlier to strangers and foreigners and it’s easier to start a new life there. You just have to be careful, especially in the beginning.

  7. Romania is a very poor country with lots of emigration (to Italy, France, Spain…) I don’t think you’ll find a job easily there. Unsure about Chile: it is in the midst of very strong popular revolt but it’s relatively well off in the context of Latin America.

    As for what people say about evacuating all Japan, I think that it would be ok if only Fukushima pref. and nearby areas were evacuated AND the government gave an impression of seriousness in managing the crisis, testing for radiation in food and so on and NOT just pretending and extending. While the nuclear disaster is very bad, it is the weak, cowardly, cheating attitude of the authorities what is really extending the damage to the rest of the country, which otherwise could have been left relatively unscathed.

    1. Romania is not “a very poor country”! It’s a country of many “contrasts”, you find much too much luxury and poverty , but there is much too much to talk about it.
      Salaries can vary from 250 euro to 1.000 euro (or more) for the same job, depending on the employer.
      The romanian money don’t have “power” abroad, which is a very different matter: with an average salary, people can’t afford making trips etc. But don’t worry, few people are starving, because most of them have also a house with land in the country side.

      About the young people immigrating: they want more money, to see the world, they have more chances in their field of study/work to get promoted and with the money earned abroad can buy houses, land etc cheaply in Romania. Romanians are very well known abroad about having “shopping mania” not only in RO, but also abroad. The big probl is they invest most money in foreign things.

      About the “very poor country” affirmation you made: why don’t you ask a foreigner who ACTUALLY lived for some time in Romania?

      I can’t write much now, but I’ll be back

      1. Maybe, D. All I know is that Spain, Italy and other European countries which are not that buoyant after all are full of Romanian immigrants. Thy may be less visible than Moroccans or Malians but they are by very large numbers in any case. If they leave their country to work hard and uncertainly in a foreign country that must be for a reason.

        By comparison there are few Chileans over here these days (and it is a destination for Latin Americans as well – but the immigrants are from other, less well-off, countries like Colombia, Peru, etc.)

        So I would compare Romania to Peru or Mali by economical standards.

        1. Let’s not make a confusion of terms :
          RO is not a “very poor country”,
          but a “poorly administrated country”,
          which is something else, I think

          we have stupid leaders,politicians educated during the communist era to have narrow views and selfish ideals. Communism was not “for all to be equal”, but “for some people to be “more equal” than others”. We need young politicians educated in other counties, with different views and more understanding about how to rule a country and about their obligations etc.
          According to the English Wikipedia, “Romania is now an upper middle-income country with high human development”.

          You can’t call “very poor” a country which actually doesn’t need to import anything, with wide fertile land, with all we need inside the ground,mountains. We have gold, silver and so on, just don’t have enough money or not well administrated money to do something about it. We should probably invest more money in tourism.

          Other problem is that RO is too thinly-populated, with actually less than 20 million inhabitants because many couples don’t make children;

          on the other hand,the “necessity” of getting out of RO could be tracked 50-13 years back, to the time when RO was a socialist republic, when almost nobody was allowed to leave the country and it was a shortage of food and only foreign goods were high quality, while the high quality Romanian goods were exported all over Europe. That time going out and getting foreign goods was everybody’s dream and that’s what children heard all the time: “you have no future in RO (must get out!)” – I think this idea has been inculcated very deeply in the background of our minds.

          As I said, most Romanians work abroad because they get better paid jobs, gather money and most of them go back some years later. The people you see doing agriculture-short term-related jobs are country side people which have land/goods but no job in their village, no money to rebuild their houses and buy a car.

          Is true that most of my friends left Romania after graduating; most of them work as teachers, by the way.

          It’s partially parents’ and teachers’ mistake, I think: they encourage the children/teenagers/students to fight not for what they have, but for what they don’t have!

          One of my friends, for example (older than me, family friend), teaches mathematics at a university in America and prepares students for international Olympiads etc: he left because his chances to show the best he could were not in Romania…

          We just need to become aware of the value of what we have in our country, how to make the best of it, administrate it, and quit buying mostly foreign goods, because they are no better than the ones in our country(which foreigners buy, by the way)

          1. Iori san, I apologize for the too long reply, didn’t realize I wrote so much…. Besides, the reply was pretty “off topic”…

  8. It is a very difficult decision and I think you are very brave. Chile may be a better choice because Romania has a very high level of industrial pollution and is near to Bulgaria (with very dangerous nuclear plants)… I also hope this site will continue because we all need your informations about what is actually going on in Japan. Good luck and thank you for your work !

    1. Romania doesn’t have much industry, in the first place, I think… Just too many cars in Bucharest… But I don’t feel the air dirtier than the one in Tokyo, for example… All big cities have a high or higher level of pollution.

      Don’t know about Bulgaria’s nuc plants, but can you name a country with
      “safe nuclear power plants”?
      Name it and I’ll move there! Anyway, Romania has only 2 nuclear reactors, close to the Black Sea.

  9. PS 2

    Sorry for posting so often, but I am worried about you and other people in Japan.

    You have to act quickly because immigration laws everywhere change a lot and do so frequently.

    If there are many Japanese looking for work abroad in the next year, many governments could make it a lot more difficult to get a visa.

    Next year this time, it could be almost impossible.

    So I would act as soon as possible. Please also tell your friends and family that they don’t have a lot of time.

    Take care, with my best wishes.

  10. Good Lucky…

    It is very sad ,but you are the courage man in Japan!

    Thanks for all the true stories told from Japan.

  11. Hi Mochizuki,

    First of all thanks a lot for all the effort that went into this website! \(^-^)/

    Berlin is very cheap compared to other European countries and as a japanese person it is very easy to get a visa.
    I have a one room apartment not far from the city center and I only pay 350 Euros (Rent + Gas + Electricity + Internet). Which is about 36.883 Yen. I think the Job situation is also better than in Rumania for example. And the best thing is that Germany will abolish nuclear reactors until 2022!
    I can totaly understand your wish to move away from Japan, I love Japan and I have been there many time even to Fukushimaken and it makes me very sad and very furious at the same time how the japanese government is handling the nuclear disaster, but to be sincere Japan seems to be doomed, socialy, economicaly and politicaly.
    I wont go to visit Japan anymore,


    Doitsujin yori

    P.S.: In case you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask me, I also can read and write Japanese.

  12. Good choice Mochi-san. Have you thought about Seoul or Hong Kong? There are sizable English-speaking communities there, and you might find it easier to get a job that pays competitively with the one you have now.

  13. Doitsujin, it is true that Berlin is still very cheap.

    But in terms of getting a WORK visa or a PERMANENT RESIDENCE (Aufenthaltserlaubnis), it might be even worse than Romania.

    The only way to get it easily would be through Mochizuki’s company. Again, he would have to wait for a few months for all the papers to be arranged.

    Until then, he can only get a tourist visa in Germany for three months. You cannot change the visa when you’re in the country, you have to leave, change the visa at a German consulate outside of the EU and then return.

    Speaking from experience (specifically in Germany).

  14. Mochizuki-san, God bless you and all in Japan. Thank you for your column and all the info. Gambatte kudasai! Leave as soon as you can, inform yourself very well before travelling. Good choices of destination are Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil ( the southern part has much less crime than Rio or S.Paulo!),and maybe emerging China.Good luck to you.

  15. Hi dear friend,

    I am going back to Europe leaving Japan. But I am European and I find it difficult myself to get back there and start again a decent life with a decent job…it’s not easy to get a job now, it would be even more difficult for you not speaking local language (unless you go to UK) and having to deal with tourist Visa rather than working Visa…then Romania, is not really the land of opportunities, they are all migrating to western Europe looking for better jobs (which then they won’t find and keep living in poverty). I advice you to try other destinations. UK may be more expensive but may have better opportunities for you. Or Latin America, Australia, China are better for both, the Visa problem and job opportunities, in my opinion (and in many cases nicer people!). I would also go there if I could. Anyway, to start with, I would enroll myself to a language course in the country you go (Romanian language if in Romania), this gives you the student Visa first, and quicken your language skills for future jobs. I always found it best to start as student in a new country if you can, It gives you the time to understand the country, to meet people and then find the best opportunities for you. But of course you need an initial investment for that, a year language course may cost, I don’t know if you can afford it. Do it only where you think it may worth it.
    Good luck

    1. Elo san,
      I totally agree with you at this part:
      “Anyway, to start with, I would enroll myself to a language course in the country you go (Romanian language if in Romania), this gives you the student Visa first, and quicken your language skills for future jobs. I always found it best to start as student in a new country if you can, It gives you the time to understand the country, to meet people and then find the best opportunities for you”

      I thought about this kind of thing earlier this afternoon.
      Iori san could enroll not necessarily at a language course, but at a university, as a student in the country he decides to go…
      There were some foreign students at my university, for example. I don’t know about other countries, but in Romania 1 year at my university (University of Bucharest) costs almost 600 euro / year.
      I don’t know yet if they have special price for foreigners… but he could stay without problems with a student visa.
      It would be a solution, I think…
      If he doesn’t like that country, he can try to find another place to go in the meantime

  16. I am so sorry for your situation, the Japanese people are the least deserving of this type of tragedy, and from what I can see, you guys aren’t getting much help. You should really consider Australia, in terms of affordability, safety and lifestyle etc, it’s a good choice. I’m sorry I don’t know much about the working visa situation though. I have been to Japan twice and have always intended to return. Would you yourself have any suggestions on how people like me can actually help the people who have been displaced?

  17. When you cannot eat the food you cannot live where you are.
    I am opting for S. America soon (already away from the US).
    I will not return to the US because of the contaminated food and dilapidated nuke plants.

    You have a good skill set with engineering – why not match that to computer skills for new career choice? Learn CAD etc.
    Many industries short on computer skilled workers.

    Here’s a good tip – take important written things like addresses of friends, bank account numbers and passwords and e-mail them to yourself. If you loose luggage etc. in transit you will be able to restore that information online. Information is a lot harder to replace than clothes etc.

    Check yahoo groups and see if there isn’t one for Japanese ex-pats … many leaving.

  18. you should keep civil engineering job with Japanese company, becasu you understand Japanese. Most Japanese companies already have secret plans to leave Japan, so just say you are restless and want to live abroad & don’t mention your blog or anything, I don’t think freedom of speech is legal in Japan.

    1. Agree completely on this. You should not be open and tell people that your move is connected with Fukushima. That includes your employer and foreign embassies. You should say that you are interested in exploring new places and expanding your horizons.

  19. It may also be possible to get a job teaching Japanese at some language school or a private high school. That way, you don’t have to work as an engineer only.

  20. May I recommend Uraguay, Argentina and Peru in Latin America, and Panama in Central America. In Eastern Europe, you might try Belarus (It’s much better than the media says).

  21. I live in Colombia and am an expat. Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, would be better choices.

    Be careful shipping your personal items to South America, you could be charged an enormous fee, far more than what your personal belongings are worth.

    It’s cheaper to live in South America than Europe…….generally speaking.

  22. Chile is an excellent choice. We visited recently visited (from the US) and it is definitely an up-and-coming middle class economy on the move. We felt totally safe there and are thinking of moving ourselves to escape the continuing Fukushima fallout in California (cesium is showing up in our milk supply again). Beyond finding a traditional job, perhaps you could even start a business there, assisting other Japanese in their exodus as many more make the sensible choice to leave.

    Other good sources of information about where to live abroad with an emphasis on low-cost living:

    Best of luck to you!

  23. you can try Quebec, canada, if you speak french. Life is not as expensive as in western canada. immigration is not that difficult.

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About this site

This website updates the latest news about the Fukushima nuclear plant and also archives the past news from 2011. Because it's always updated and added live, articles, categories and the tags are not necessarily fitted in the latest format.
I am the writer of this website. About page remains in 2014. This is because my memory about 311 was clearer than now, 2023, and I think it can have a historical value. Now I'm living in Romania with 3 cats as an independent data scientist.
Actually, nothing has progressed in the plant since 2011. We still don't even know what is going on inside. They must keep cooling the crippled reactors by water, but additionally groundwater keeps flowing into the reactor buildings from the broken parts. This is why highly contaminated water is always produced more than it can circulate. Tepco is planning to officially discharge this water to the Pacific but Tritium is still remaining in it. They dilute this with seawater so that it is legally safe, but scientifically the same amount of radioactive tritium is contained. They say it is safe to discharge, but none of them have drunk it.


September 2011