She is seventeen. She came here as an exchange student in February. Since then her world has fallen apart. She desperately wants to go home but there is no home to go to.
Her older brother, Hiro, was in Tokyo when the disaster happened. He is safe. They have not heard from their parents. They will almost certainly not hear from their parents. Hiro's messages from Tokyo leave no doubt. Junko is still hoping.
I know her brother. He was here several years ago. I read his thesis for him. He had impeccable manners and, unusually, was willing to take advice. When he left he also left an invitation that I would, one day, visit Japan on my way to London. His family would like to meet me. They all spoke some English he assured me. Now it is just the two of them. He has asked me to talk to her.
Junko is waiting for me on the seat outside the library. I am early but she is earlier still. She is also sitting quite still. When she sees me her expression changes just a little from almost nothing to something like faint relief.
I sit next to her. I do not sit too close. She needs support but she also needs space. I am a stranger but I am also not a stranger. Right now I am her one link with home. I know her brother.
I wait and, at last, she starts to talk. She tells me little things. She is thinking Japanese and talking English. Her English is slow and not particularly good. In other circumstances it is probably much better but she looks utterly exhausted.
Then comes the big thing. Hiro has asked her to stay here. He has told her there is nothing to go back to. If she returns she will add just one more person to all the displaced people. She will be one more person to feed in a country that is struggling to feed everyone right now.
Her exchange family have told her the same thing. Stay. They will have her as long as she needs to be here, longer than originally planned if necessary.
She knows it is sensible but sensible is not what she wants right then. She wants home. She wants her family. Each word is a struggle by now. There is a damp patch on my shoulder where she has started to cry. I wish I was her mother.
Then her "Australian mother" here comes out of the library.
"Junko?" she asks quietly.
Junko leaves me and buries her face in her "mother's chest" sobbing. Over the top of her head her "mother" looks at me and mouths,
"It is the first time she has cried."