The American media is blowing things out of proportion. You can't possibly be surprised.
No plants have blown up. There have been explosions at the plants.
No reactors have exploded, just the outer buildings. Those have happened because there was too much steam in the cooling chambers and it wasn't adequately cooled or vented, not because something radioactive blew up.
There has been some radiation leakage, yes. But it's still only dangerous if you're actually at the plant. Several days ago they evacuated people living within 20km (12mi). That area has not changed, nor does it need to. People living between 20-30km (12-18mi) away have been advised to stay indoors. I'll remind you we live about 300km (200mi) away. In US city terms, imagine the the Statue of Liberty in NYC is the Fukushima nuclear plant. The evacuation area is from there out through Queens. In this analogy, we live in Washington, DC.
There are things on fire and it is bad. Agreed. But Tokyo is not in any immediate danger, nor do we have any reason to expect it will be.
The US State Department has advised people not to travel to Japan at this time, but has not suggested that any Americans leave the country. I know many people that have or are in the process of doing so, but not a single one is associated with an American military base. Every single person in or with the military isn't concerned.
My sources are sound. One is Husband. He is Government Man, he works for the government, the government has sent him. He is in The Know.
My other source, as of today, is a friend of ours who is a helicopter pilot and has flown up to Sendai every day since the earthquake. The city of Sendai is fine as far as radiation is concerned, which is a blessing because quite frankly they have enough other things to deal with. Like 10,000+ missing or dead along the coast. When you hear on the news that there is no power or water, it is that area, not where we are.
I've heard several times that we should leave before it gets too bad, because we may not be able to if it gets bad enough. I see the merit of that argument and don't fault any foreigners or Japanese citizens for either flying out of the country or temporarily staying elsewhere in the country, but we don't share that mindset.
Husband's rationale is this: He's been trained in how to deal with things like nuclear war, so a partial meltdown 200 miles away isn't even registering on his alarm-o-meter. Slight chance of infrastructure/social collapse? He did two tours in Iraq. Been there, done that, brought me a souvenir T-shirt. Natural disasters? He's from Florida.
Japan is the most prepared and able country in the world to deal with something like this ("this" being the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear fiasco), and I have faith in them. TEPCO (the company that owns and operates the Fukushima plants) may be a different story, but for the most part it's amazing how much worse the whole disaster could have been. There hasn't even been any looting! The Japanese remain calm, polite, and considerate. If I need to live through a natural disaster, I'd rather do it here than just about anywhere else.
In our house, things are stable. We have rolling blackouts, but otherwise we have power, running water, drinkable water, food, shelter, gasoline for our car, and each other. Nobody's glowing in the dark. I'm not saying there isn't a problem 200 miles north, just that there is no immediate danger and you can dial the anxiety down. I really appreciate all the concern my friends and family have for me, but it's really not necessary. If it becomes necessary, I will let you know. Remember, the internet didn't go down when the phone lines did after the big earthquake. This won't take it down either.