Japanese boys fear for their families

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ONE day after Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club’s development team played against a touring Japanese squad.

Having arrived in England last Wednesday, the 28 students from Meiji University’s Rugby Club learnt about their tragedy on the Friday morning news.

Most of its players are from near Tokyo, which was more than 230 miles from the quake’s epicentre, but two are from Fukushima, the north eastern region where a nuclear plant has been badly damaged.

They spent many tense hours unable to contact their families because the mobile phone networks were down. But late on Friday, after sending emails to phones, they finally received news that they were ‘safe and well’.

On Saturday, their coach Kiyoshi Murata said: “They were really nervous yesterday and could not speak much.”

Daisuke Watanabe’s sister and parents live in Fukushima.

He said: “I was very worried about my family’s condition and about the possibility of them being hurt. I just want to hug them.”

Taku Ando said: “My mother and big brother in Fukushima are both safe, I was very relieved to hear that.”

All that exists of both family homes is their shell, they were so badly shaken that their insides were destroyed.

The boys also said they were scared for their families’ health after hearing about the danger of radioactive contamination from Fukushima’s nuclear power plant.

Before the match, in which Meiji beat Bury 26-17, a minute’s silence was held to mark the disastrous events.

Mr Murata said: “We very much appreciate the sympathy.”

The team are due to fly home on Monday but they have been advised to use credit cards instead of cash in case they have to stay longer.