Duke professor remains in Japan to assist her staff

Reiko Mazuka

March 16, 2011 8:23:58 PM PDT
A Duke professor remains in Japan despite fears of a nuclear meltdown in order to help the research staff she oversees at Japan's Science Institute.

Reiko Mazuka is a professor of psychology and her husband John Mertz is a professor of Japanese language and literature at NC State.

Mertz stays informed on the situation in Japan through the internet. Mazuka remains at the couple's Saih Tah Mah apartment just north of Tokyo and about 200 miles from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

Mazuka says there's a lot of anxiety, even in Tokyo. She was supposed to fly home Tuesday but says she decided to stay in Japan after being unsure that she could reach the airport.

She also says she was concerned about the research staff she oversees.

"I can't sort of leave them here," Mazuka said. So, she plans to stick around and see how things go.

Mertz says he understands and respects his wife's decision, but would like for her to return to Durham.

"I would kind of like to see her back here," he said.

Mazuka says she has not seen much damage around her, although her lab has partially shut down because of rolling blackouts and chaos in the streets.

Her husband says his biggest concern is over the damaged nuclear plants and what could happen in a meltdown occurs.

"So the question for us is what about tomorrow?" Mertz asked. "What about next week? When exactly will this thing be at an end?"

Mazuka says everyone in Japan is very grateful for the help they have received from U.S. troops. She says she will probably be heading home sometime in the next few days.

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