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Former Bermuda student vows to stay in disaster-hit Japan

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A loyal teacher is refusing to abandon the life he loves in Japan despite his worried parents' repeated pleas to flee to the safety of Bermuda.More than 8,000 people are now confirmed dead and more than 12,000 people still missing.

Alfa Ming has defiantly said: “I'm not going anywhere” after surviving the massive earthquake and tsunami that ripped through Japan.

His parents Fred and Jocelyn Ming have told him they would feel “much more comfortable” knowing he was at home with them.

But the 36-year-old has returned to work and told his parents not to worry as his friends were looking out for him.

Mr Ming Jr has been teaching English to university students in Tokyo for about three years.

Dr Ming, who is director of Government's environmental protection, said he was “worried sick” knowing his son was in the midst of one of the world's greatest natural disasters.

He said: “He is showing no signs of leaving Japan.

“I had suggested that it might be a good idea for him to come here for a while to see how things go.

“He said he'd think about it, but he said he wanted to stay. I keep asking but he says he's not going anywhere.

“I would certainly feel a lot more comfortable if he was in Bermuda. But it's his decision and I have to respect that.”

Mr Ming Jr was born and educated in Canada but lived in Bermuda for several years when he was younger and briefly attended Bermuda College.

His father said his son had always had “a connection with Asian countries.” It was during his degree in Asian Studies that he started to make friends with people from Japan.

Dr Ming said his son has a “very strong network of friends” in Japan who he did not want to leave behind.

He also said his son probably “didn't want to abandon everything he'd achieved” as he had overcome challenges to settle into Japanese life. He added that Mr Ming Jr also enjoyed his job and was doing well learning the language.

As soon as Dr Ming heard about the massive disaster on March 11 he contacted his son on Skype and was lucky to get hold of him “almost immediately.”

It was the biggest earthquake Japan had ever seen and measured nine on the Richter scale.

Immediately after the earthquake Mr Ming Jr got together with his friends and headed to Osaka to try to escape the trembling from the aftershocks. But after a week he had to return to Tokyo to go back to work.

Dr Ming said: “We were so relieved when we got hold of him.

“We could see how very stressful and distressing the situation was for him. While speaking to us every couple of minutes he would look around the room as the building he was in was shaking.

“It's very difficult to see your son like that.”

Dr Ming said his son now seemed all right in himself but had been clearly shaken up by everything that had happened and remained concerned about the safety of some of his friends.

Mr Ming Jr has told his family that he could “visualise what had happened” as just a week before the disaster he had been on vacation to visit friends in northern Japan, which was the worst hit area.

Dr Ming said: “He is now back at work, but he says it's not the same. The aftershocks are still happening.

“He says people are going about their business but he says Tokyo is quiet. Tokyo is just not a quiet city but that's the word he keeps using.”

The teacher's poignant tweets on the Twitter website tell his personal story. He typed: ‘It's crazy, I was in a lesson when the café started jumping, made it to a safe zone,' then ‘People are trying to be normal but it's not over.'

In the next few days he wrote: ‘I heard crows and saw a cat, I think it's a good sign.'

Dr Ming says he is now remaining in constant communication with his son to check on his safety. He says he “gets more than a little anxious” if he doesn't hear from him for a couple of days.

Dr Ming said his greatest fear for his son had become the elevated levels of radioactive iodine in Japan's water supply.

He said: “When we can't reach him, it's very disconcerting.

“The worry is still there. There's only so much bottled water in Japan and you can't live without water.”

Dr Ming said having people in Bermuda asking after their son had been “a great comfort” to him and his wife, who teaches at the Berkeley Institute.

Local firefighters and others search for missing persons in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami-destroyed city of Rikuzentakata, northern Japan Friday, March 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
Alfa Ming

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Published March 25, 2011 at 10:00 am (Updated March 25, 2011 at 10:00 am)

Former Bermuda student vows to stay in disaster-hit Japan

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