Reported by Josh DeVine
As the death toll and damage continue to mount in Japan, Mike Sowers of Brentwood is glad to be hearing from his son.
Special Section: Japan Earthquake | Help Japan Relief Efforts | Video: Local Man In Japan Debates Returning Home | Video: Metro Councilman Has Family Missing In Japan
"Drew had posted on his Facebook account that he is fine," Sowers said. "This is a passion that he had, and we're very happy for him."
Drew Sowers is from Brentwood but now lives in Tokyo. He's two years into a three-year mission to teach English to the Japanese.
"It was something that he really looked forward to doing for a long time and has really enjoyed the experience thoroughly," Mike Sowers said.
For years, Drew Sowers wrote about his time in Tokyo online, mostly his observations and things he would want to remember. But when the earthquake and tsunami hit, his tone changed.
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On Tuesday, he wrote: "I haven't really seriously thought about having to come back to the States yet, but I'm not opposed to it. I don't want to, but realize, given certain conditions, that it could be the best bet."
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"And he said there's been at least one significant aftershock every day," said Mike Sowers.
As aftershocks continue, Drew Sowers wrote about another concern grabbing his attention.
"I'm trying to weigh the facts, consult different sources and decide for myself. Right now, my biggest concern continues to be the nuclear plant."
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For his father, at home, it's a valid concern that, if it's safe, may not sway his son at all.
"He's real committed to seeing this through," Mike Sowers said. "(It has) given him a much wider perspective than he would otherwise have.
I'm not so sure he may not be there long term."
Councilman Has Missing Family Members In Japan
Among those watching it all unfold is Metro Councilman Eric Crafton, who has family still unaccounted for in Japan.
The councilman served in the military in Japan then lived, worked and met his wife, Miko, there.
"I mean, that's her hometown," said Crafton of the area hardest-hit. "So that'd be like waking up in Nashville being reduced to rubble and 10,000 to 20,000 people are dead, so it's a real tough situation."
Days after the earthquake and tsunami hit, several members of Miko's family are still missing.
"Still haven't located one sister that was in the hospital or an aunt and an uncle that live right on the coast of Sendai, so still worried about them," said Crafton.
But it isn't just Miko; Crafton himself has roots in this part of the world.
"I went to grad school there, and I worked over there as a consultant for three years, so very, very familiar not only with Tokyo, but that Sendai area," he said.
So while his family, like many, waits for word of loved ones, the public figure has a personal plea for people to help however they can.
"It's just a broad-reaching catastrophe, and we just have to keep all of those people in our thoughts and prayers and support them however we can," Crafton said.
Communication has been tough; Japan's cell grid right now is spotty at best. But on Tuesday, Miko did get a text message saying her sister was able to get a dialysis treatment.
Sen. Alexander Defends U.S. Nuclear Energy
The talk of nuclear energy and the problems in Japan have a Tennessee senator defending its role in powering the United States.
"Our reactors in the United States are built to the highest standards in the world," Sen. Lamar Alexander said. "We don't abandon highway systems because bridges and overpasses collapse during earthquakes. The 1.6 million of us who fly daily would not stop flying after a tragic airplane crash.
We cannot stop drilling after a tragic oil spill unless we want to start relying on foreign oil."
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In spite of the problems with a nuclear plant in Japan, Alexander said he still supports the idea of building more plants in the United States.
But some oppose his plan and said what's happening in Japan only proves their point.
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