Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Great Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami One Year Later

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

It is Sunday, March 11th, here in Japan, exactly one year after the horrendous earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan killing thousands (15,850), injuring thousands, and leaving thousands homeless.   There are also thousands (3,287) who remain missing twelve months after the event.

The Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant was severely damaged in the quake and ensuing tsunami to the point it has been off-line since the devastation of last March.  Questions about its current safety as well as its long-term prospects have had a substantive impact on the Japanese political scene, and nuclear power, which had seemed ready to make a rebound, is now being looked at more cautiously on a world-wide basis.

Here on Okinawa we had no physical contact with the horror of March 11, 2011, but many of the Japanese businesses have had out collection canisters all year to help with recovery efforts.  My housing agents told me that several Japanese from the effected area relocated to Okinawa.

I hope that those who have moved here from northern Japan have not traded one set of troubles for another.  I have felt a half-dozen minor quakes since arriving on Okinawa nearly two years ago, the most recent being at 4:30 a.m. one morning last week.  It measured 5.4 on the Richter Scale and shook my bed for over thirty seconds.  A couple of months ago we had a more severe one that broke a few things in my apartment.  Being squarely on the Ring of Fire, a big one is almost certain to hit this little island someday.

Japan and the United States and all of the other countries that have invested in nuclear power need to give serious consideration to where they place these facilities.  The full story on Fukushima Daichi has yet to be told, and indeed new horrors regarding the disaster at the plant are still being discovered.  Public distrust of government statements regarding the safety of the Fukushima Daichi plant have led to many Japanese purchasing portable radiation detectors so that they do not have to rely solely on what their government tells them.

There is a great deal of information on the Internet regarding the placement of nuclear power plants in known earthquake zones in the United States.  We have a clear choice:  either become better educated on the role that nature can play with regard to these plants and then get active, or sit back and trust our government to protect us.  The Japanese had been content to trust their government - and they paid a heavy price for that complacency.  Will southern California be called on to pay a similar price for the benefit of energy giants and their pet politicians?

Unfortunately, we are one year out from the disaster that struck northern Japan - and people are beginning to forget the horror of what befell the Japanese.    If we do forget, it will be at our peril.

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