Japan: One Year Later

Japan marked the one year anniversary of the deadly earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people and set off a radiation crisis that shattered public trust in atomic power and the nation’s leaders. It was just last year when a 9.0 earthquake unleashed a wall of water that drowned about 16,000 innocent people, and the country is still grappling with the human, economic, and political costs.

The whole country went into a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m., the time when the quake struck. They paused again 33 minutes later, when the 75 foot tsunami crashed down. In Okuma, where the disaster triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Plant, people were allowed back for a few hours to honor the dead. Authorities imposed a 12-mile no-go zone around the nuclear plant, and no one may ever be allowed back because of the dangerous risks.

Many felt betrayed by the politicians and bureaucrats that promoted nuclear power as safe and clean. Protests were held all over Japan, where they gathered to express their anger and frustration as well as the call to scrap all of Japan’s reactors. Fortunately, most have been shut down for checks and maintenance.

There are about 326,000 people that are still homeless, including 80,000 people that have been evacuated away from the Fukushima Plant. The slow progress of rebuilding is deepening the misery of the survivors. The nation lives under a cloud of anxiety over the long term health affects of radiation. Japan also faces the huge financial burden of dismantling the nuclear plant cleaning up an area the size of Luxembourg. It will most likely take decades to complete and advance technologies have yet to be developed.