By Fox News Radio's Alastair Wanklyn

One rainy afternoon in Tokyo, I collect radiation pills from my embassy. I stand in line with about 40 long-term Japan residents, many with children.

Air-borne dust in the capital is described as only mildly radioactive. But better safe than sorry, these people say.

However I recall one Japanese mother earlier telling me of a darker fear. "I think the government is not telling the full truth," she confided. "Not lies, but not the complete truth."

Two days later, a broad threat to health is confirmed. Tokyo tap water is dangerous to infants. In fact it is spitting radiation, officials announce, with iodine-131 showing up at more than double the recommended limit. 

I give my potassium iodide tablets to the Japanese family.

They might never need them. And should it get that bad Japan's government will do what it can to protect people. 

But by every appearance authorities here are overstretched right now.

Many of the 400,000 or so homeless survivors of the quake and tsunami are left to fend for themselves. No car, no cash, no home, and in many cases enough fresh water to drink and wash one's hair but nothing more.

Private citizens are organising aid runs, sending trucks to the disaster zone and helping to serve out cooked food. They're collecting donations on many streets around Tokyo.

Larger charity Peace Wings tells me it's dispatching five trucks filled with with blankets, kerosene and Snickers bars. The Japanese Red Cross is appealing for blood donations.

All this won't end the ordeal, but it will augment the government's response.

And after TV reports here on the aid effort by crews from American bases here and from the offshore USS Ronald Reagan carrier support group, strangers tell me of their gratitude to America too.