Japan earthquake: Sendai evacuee's poster campaign

Dixon family with "Ganbatte Nippon" posters
Image caption Alastair Dixon's wife and children display their goodwill posters for Japan

The last British national to be evacuated from the earthquake-hit Japanese city Sendai has been adjusting to life back in Cambridgeshire.

Teacher Alastair Dixon left with his Japanese wife and three children, on the advice of the British Embassy.

Mr Dixon has now launched a campaign to send hundreds of goodwill posters bearing the words "Ganbatte Nippon" to Japanese children, to boost morale.

The phrase is a traditional greeting meaning "you can do it, Japan".

Mr Dixon, who is originally from Fenstanton in Cambridgeshire, said: "A physical representation of people's good wishes is an integral part of the Japanese culture.

"They send messages like this in cards to each other to show that they are thinking about someone and that they care."

'Goodwill campaign'

Mr Dixon said he did not want to ask people to donate money to the relief effort.

Instead, he and his family wanted to show the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami that people around the world were aware of their suffering and were wishing them well.

"Seeing these posters and knowing that children in Cambridgeshire, for example, have made them is incredibly important to such a caring culture,." he said.

"It's very much like receiving a get well card, or a birthday card."

He has been visiting schools in the county, telling pupils about the situation in Japan and encouraging them to design "Ganbatte Nippon" posters.

"I want people to take photographs of themselves holding their posters and I'll upload them to a Facebook page, then Japanese people can see how many people are thinking about them.

"I hope this will go viral and that people all over the world will join this goodwill campaign," Mr Dixon said.

Image caption Mr Dixon says he will take his family home once the radiation levels drop

'Last bus'

He and his wife, Mayumi, hope to return to their home in a suburb of Sendai, within the radiation exclusion zone.

"We live about 60km (37 miles) from the Fukushima nuclear plant, so we left for the sake of the children," he said.

"But my wife's extended family is still there, so of course we want to go back," Mr Dixon explained.

"Our home only suffered cracks to the walls, but the roads were destroyed and there was no electricity, water or communications for a week.

"It took a while for the British Embassy staff to contact all of the Britons who wanted to leave, and for us to make the decision to get on that last bus out, when the radiation situation got worse."

The school term in Japan begins on 18 April. Mr Dixon said he hoped to be able to return in time for that and to share the "Ganbatte Nippon" posters with children at the 11 schools where he teaches.

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