This will be brief because I have some work to do. I haven't had time to post much recently because I spent the weekend bouncing all over Tokyo and yesterday was my first day at the Public Safety Division at city hall. The division through me a welcome party last night after work at a really good Chinese restaraunt and I stopped by the Catholic church on before coming home.
It was nice to be in the International Affairs Division last week because it was pretty laid back. I spent most of my time reading about Yokosuka and studying Japanese. Yesterday, I officially began my study of Japanese emergency management. Some of the members of this division (including both of the bosses) sat with me in the morning and gave me a briefing about Japanese emergency management in general and on what local governments are doing to plan and coordinate their response to emergencies. It seems that the impetus for recent reform in emergency management here has been focussed on the possibility of an armed attack (say, by North Korea) or an Al-Qaeda-style terrorist attack. If terrorists or a hostile nation were to attack Japan, it only makes sense that Yokosuka, with its large American military presence, would be a prime target.
Next week I will be at the fire bureau. I have briefly gone through it once or twice, but I am really looking forward to seeing all of their facilities. City Hall is divided into three fairly large buildings, and the fire bureau occupies all of one of those buildings. It is the newest building and is built on a rubber or spring base in order to withstand a powerful earthquake. There are many divisions within the fire bureau (for example for building codes), so it is not just an oversized fire station. I think I will also be going to some local fire stations, too.
I guess I should wait to talk about these facilities until I have already had the full tour. I will be sure to take lots of pictures.
Speaking of pictures, there are some more from Tokyo that I'll put up later today (tomorrow morning U.S. time). I also have some from the battleship Mikasa, which I toured yesterday. The Mikasa fought the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War. We are coming up on the 100th anniversary of a major naval battle that Japan won. The Mikasa was the admiral's ship, but now it is a museum (one of only 3 battleship-museums in the world, I'm told...). It was cool to see, but one thing has me a little worried. The way it's positioned, the front cannons are pointed directly at the U.S. naval base and the dorms of American servicemen's families.
Mr. Ozawa (the division head and my guide on this tour) thought that was pretty funny. I think I did too.