11
Mar
2012

Japan mapOne year has passed since the tragedies of March 11 in Japan.  Though 366 days have passed, the horrors of that day persist, and probably will for decades.

The Japan Earthquake-Tsunami has immediate impacts on the people of the country, but as work continues to clean up the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, it has become obvious that the contamination has become widespread.

I have continued to follow the news out of Japan for the past year, and it just seems that every time I turn around there is a set back to getting this country back on course.  However, Japan being Japan, no matter how overwhelming things may seem, the country pulls together.  As of Mid-February of this year, volunteerism had reached 930,000 people according to the Japanese Council of Social Welfare.  This does not include the number of people who had also donated their time via private community groups.  Stories are everywhere you look of Tokyo residents leaving the capital after work on Friday to travel the 200-plus miles to the devastation zone and spending their weekends cleaning up the wreckage, delivering food to temporary housing encampments and even assisting in cleaning up family photos found in the wreckage.

Japan, as always, rallies around its sense of community, and it’s not surprising.

One thing I did see through out the year that annoyed me mainly came from Twitter.  Time and time again I saw people tweeting about how no assistance should be given to the country until it agreed to stop its whaling.  Look, I’m not a fan of the whaling either, but holding relief hostage from completely innocent people that have nothing to do with the action?  Are you insane?  People that had absolutely nothing to with your cause du jour have lost everything from their homes to family members, living in temporary housing in horrible conditions, and you’re going to keep tweeting about how no assistance should be given until the Japanese government, which has some fairly serious matters on its plate such as melting nuclear reactors, takes time out to vote on your cause of choice?

See that corner over there?  Please go sit in it and think about what you’ve done.

Japan is recovering, but as one would suspect when you have an event of this size, it’s slow going.  This is sure to be something that needs to be revisited time and time again over the coming years.

For now, my thoughts go out to the families and loved ones of the 19,000 who perished on March 11, 2011 and in the days that followed.

25
Feb
2012

Pray for JapanAs we approach the first anniversary of the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami of March 11, a documentary is due to be released that will show you what the aftermath was like, and how the people of Japan pulled together to rebuild their lives.

In the time that has passed since the March 11 tragedy, I have followed all of the news that has come from the story, and the hashtag #fukushima has been a staple of my TweetDeck ever since.  Things are still not good there as the nuclear plant continues to expel radiation, and the pollution spreads to other parts of the world. The media, for the most part, has forgotten the story and moved on to covering whirlwind marriages that last 72 days, while the people in this disaster still struggle to get their lives back on track.

Stu Levy, an American living in Japan, opted to document the aftermath for six weeks as he volunteered to help with cleanup in the Tohoku region.  His film, Pray for Japan, will be released on March 14 with proceeds going to charities that support the recovery efforts.  You can learn more about the film and where it will be shown on the site, PrayforJapan-film.org. You can read the synopsis and watch the trailer below.

On March 11, 2011, Japan’s Tohoku coastal region was destroyed by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami that followed.  PRAY FOR JAPAN takes place in the devastated region of Ishinomaki, Miyagi – the largest coastal city in Tohoku with a population of over 160,000 people. Filmmaker Stu Levy – an American living in Japan – filmed the tsunami aftermath during his trips to Tohoku as a volunteer and over a period of 6 weeks, captured over 50 hours of footage.

PRAY FOR JAPAN focuses on four key perspectives of the tragedy – School, Shelter, Family, and Volunteers. With each perspective we meet victims who faced significant obstacles and fought to overcome them. Through these four vantage points, the audience is able to understand the vast ramifications of this large-scale natural disaster – and the battle these real-life heroes fought on behalf of their loved ones and their hometown.

Losing loved ones cuts emotional scars which run deep.

We can help heal these wounds by paying tribute to the amazing resilience and quiet spirit of the many victims and volunteers of Tohoku. By letting them know we admire and respect them, we encourage them to continue the good fight – at a time when even the strongest warriors would grow weary. We also gain insight into how our own inner strength can help us if we ever find ourselves in a life-threatening situation.

We can all learn from these incredible heroes!

Over the next few weeks, I plan to have several more posts about the state of the disaster as it stands today.

20
Sep
2011

Typhoon Roke is headed towards Fukushima, Japan, and in turn the heavily damaged Fukushima Dia-Ichi nuclear plant.

Packing winds of 144 kilometers per hour (89 MPH), with gusts of 216 kilometers per hour (134 MPH), Roke is making landfall near Tokyo and then working its way towards Fukushima.  The town, and its accompanying nuclear plant, were ravaged by the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami of March 11 and while the area has been evacuated for months now due to radiation, a larger area is new being included due to the impending storm.  Up to an additional 1 million people are being told to leave the area immediately for their safety.

Besides the actual danger of the storm, there is an issue with the amount of contaminated water currently residing in the basements of the reactors that have been used over the months to cool the exposed nuclear rods.  Apparently there is up to 500 tons of additional ground water that have leaked into the buildings due to cracks in the cement, and the addition of the rains plus winds whipping it around, there is no indication of just how far these waters could be spread now.

You can see a picture of Typhoon Roke below (click for a larger view) and you can see this is a massive storm.    It is moving rapidly and has the potential of making this already horrific event that much worse.  Even taking the radiation out of the equation, Japan is about to be rocked with rains, flooding and even more damage.  Just how much can this nation take?

Typhoon Roke

Please remember you can help by checking out the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Relief. It has been over a month since the tragic events of March 11th, but they still need our help.

[Via Bloomberg, thanks to jdawgc for the tip]

28
Aug
2011

I continue to find interesting videos of the  Japan Earthquake-Tsunami of March 11, but this may be one of the scariest yet.

While there have been some shocking videos of the event to be sure, this one was filmed from inside a car in Sendai City as the earthquake happened and the tsunami water poured into the city.  It isn’t clear to me if this person stayed with the car as this was a dash-mounted, but from the way the video ends, I don’t believe they did.  All I can assume is this was retrieved when the car was later found.

This will certainly make sure I never question the power of water again.

Please remember you can help by checking out the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Relief. It has been over a month since the tragic events of March 11th, but they still need our help.

21
Aug
2011

Ever since the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami of March 11, Tokyo Electric Power company (TEPCO) has remained rather quiet about how things are going at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The Japanese are not known for their desire to lose “face”, so to make admissions of fault sometimes take longer than we’re used to here in the West, but at times, you have to wonder about the person who ends up giving the apology is the one to do so.  In this case, it is the general manage of the plant. Masao Yoshida,  who is shown int he below YouTube video apologizing to the people of Fukushima, and explaining where they are in their clean-up of the nuclear waste.  While I understand this was the man in charge at the time of the disaster, he was certainly not the man who designed the power station or made the decisions on how much it could withstand.  I’m also not sure there was much he could have done to stop a combination of an earthquake and tsunami that actually shifted the entire planet on its axis.  Yes, it’s good to finally get some insight as to what is happening there, but I don’t think we can put too much blame on this guy.

In general, things are not good.  While repairs and containment continue, the residents of the region are moving out in droves – and who can blame them – the economy is devastated and radiation is showing up in the food chain now.  No matter what they do at the plant at this point, damage has been done that will impact the entire country for years to come.  Having people show up on video to apologize is just the way of the Japanese, but it seems pretty useless.  I was in Tokyo in 2001 during the anniversary of the surrender to the United States, and despite nearly 60 years having passed at that point, I was shocked to see the prime minister issuing the annual apology for the war and the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Um … okay, apology accepted … I think we can move on now.

Still, with only a little over five months having passed since March 11, this video at least gives us some insights, but at the same time makes you realize just how much is still left to do.

Please remember you can help by checking out the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Relief. It has been over a month since the tragic events of March 11th, but they still need our help.

11
Aug
2011

Japan mapWhile aftershocks are to expected in the wake of a major quake, to be having ones that register 6.0 on the scale five months later has to be a bit unnerving.

News came this evening that the Fukushima region was rocked by another major aftershock to the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami of March 11.  Luckily no tsunami warnings were issued this time, and Tokyo Electric Power company (TEPCO) said that no further damage was detected at the reactor.

One has to wonder, however, when, if ever, this country is going to catch a break.  It was announced earlier this week that the population fell again for this past year recorded through March 31.  Not even counting the deaths due to the disaster, the count for the year came in at 1,212,094, while births totaled 1,065,909.  The economy was already in shaky ground, and the continuing decline in the population is not going to help matters for the future.  At the current rate, it is estimated that the population of the country will drop from 126 million to 90 million by 2050.

While there have been plans to help motivate people to have more children including a moths stipend to be paid to families for each child under 16, it has failed to materialize to the full amount promised, and now with the disaster, the government has said there will be no increase to the allowance.

Now there is a new wrinkle: A fear of radiation.  Women across the nation have been saying they are now afraid to get pregnant due to the potential for lingering side-effects from the radiation.  While health officials have said there shouldn’t be issues, try telling that to an expectant mother.

Five months may have passed since the initial disaster, but with every aftershock the nation of Japan is reminded that this tragedy will remain with them for decades to come.

Please remember you can help by checking out the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Relief. It has been over a month since the tragic events of March 11th, but they still need our help.

30
Jul
2011

Fukushima nuclear power plantIn a completely unsurprising announcement, the people of Japan are overwhelmingly calling for an end to the use of nuclear power in their country.

A recent poll conducted by the Kyodo news agency indicated that 70.3 percent of the population wants to see the use of nuclear power in Japan come to an end in the wake of the damage at the Fukushima plant.  Reuters is reporting that Prime Minister Naoto Kan is now echoing this sentiment, however, seeing as his approval rating has fallen to 17.1 percent in the wake of his handling of the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami aftermath, it isn’t the least bit surprising he would latch on to a popular opinion.

Fukushima is still leaking radiation four months after the disaster with no end in sight.  Of the 54 nuclear plants that were operational prior to March 11th, only 17 are currently online as the rest were shut down for safety checks.  The government has now delayed their return to service over safety concerns, especially after it was discovered that a pressure vessel at Kyushu Electric Power’s Genkai plant may be faulty.

As I predicted in a episode of Scattercast, I knew this would be the route the Japanese people would end up taking.  If they find something is dangerous, they usually just eliminate it from their society.  The problem is that almost a third of their power comes from nuclear facilities, so alternatives will need to be found, and quickly.  They can go wind, solar or even wave technology, but those are expensive and time consuming to roll out.  My theory is that they will do something to keep themselves going, but more than likely they will be doing heavy research into alternative fuel systems, and by the time they’re done, the whole world may end up benefiting from the time and research that will now into these projects.

For the time being, Japan is still not out of the woods.

Please remember you can help by checking out the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Relief. It has been over a month since the tragic events of March 11th, but they still need our help.

19
Jun
2011

Fukushima nuclear power plantTokyo Electric Power company (TEPCO) has  confirmed that a new water filtration system put in place at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant failed after only five hours of use.  It was originally estimated to have been workable for up to a month.

After the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami back on March 11th, TEPCO has had to pump water continuously onto the reactors in an effort to cool them.  The problem is that this has now contaminated all of that water and there is no where to put it all.  A new filtration system was brought in to handle the waste, and original estimates said that it would last a month before becoming to clogged with contaminates.  The system lasted only five hours before failing, suggesting that the situation is far worse than was first envisioned.

The situation has been made worse by the amount of standing water currently in the buildings, and if a solution is not found soon, several locations will begin overflowing out into the environment.  If the filtration system can’t be brought back online, the only alternative that may be left is to dump thousands of tons of the water into the ocean, something TEPCO has already had to do once before in the early days of the disaster.

With all of the other issues in the world going on, it’s easy to forget about this one, but it is still very much a reality, and still appears to be far from being solved.

Please remember you can help by checking out the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Relief. It has been over a month since the tragic events of March 11th, but they still need our help.

12
May
2011

Fukushima nuclear power plantTokyo Electric Power company (TEPCO) has now confirmed that the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant partially melted down in the days following the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami.

While Tepco suspected there may have been a melt down, nothing was confirmed until this week when a camera was finally able to reach the bottom of the reactor.  What they discovered was a pool of melted fuel rods laying there, which has now made some wonder if there may have been a hole melted in the floor, allowing radioactive water to have leaked out into the ground below.  There were already other leaks discovered, making the water fall to a level of 10 feet, three feet below the tops of the rods.

While the potential impact from this event is not fully known yet, the entire situation has now been complicated by the water situation, and bringing the reactor to a cold shutdown will take longer than was first anticipated.

As the checkups on the reactors has continued, leaks in other towers have been discovered that have lead to radioactive water leaking into the ocean in the surrounding area.

In short, while things aren’t as bad as they could have been, it’s still going to be a very long time before this area will be livable again or the true extent of the lasting damage will be.

Please remember you can help by checking out the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Relief. It has been over a month since the tragic events of March 11th, but they still need our help.

17
Apr
2011

Yet another video of the tsunami resulting from the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami may be one of the must gut wrenching yet.

This particular video is labeled as “South Sanriku — Tsunami seen from Shizugawa High School” and may be one of the hardest to watch yet.  Up until now I would have given that credit to the first-person video that came out shortly after the event, but this one now takes the prize.   It’s a mixture of seeing the people scrambling to safety at the end of the video, along with the panic stricken soundtrack of those people around the videographer.  The moment that got me though was watch for the people on the stairs starting at 5:01.  When I first watched it I couldn’t tell what they were struggling to get up the stairs, but then I rewatched it in full screen mode and that is when you realize it is people fighting to get someone in a wheelchair to safety.

I admit it, I teared up.  And I am again just writing this.

I can’t even begin to imagine the nightmare this day was for those people.

Please remember you can help by checking out the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Relief. It has been over a month since the tragic events of March 11th, but they still need our help.

11
Apr
2011

Japan mapThe crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant resulting from the March 2011 Japan Earthquake-Tsunami has been raised to a level 7 on the nuclear crisis scale, the highest it can go.

Despite numerous attempts to try to gain control over the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear reactor, things have continued to not improve.  With the assignment of the level 7 moniker, this disaster is now considered to be on the same level as Chernobyl.  The inability to cool the cores completely, and aftershocks continuing to be 6 and 7s on the Richter scale, what progress is made is constantly lost to concerns over the safety of the workers on site trying to control the emergency.

The facility is now filled with highly contaminated water, and about the only option is to cement the entire facility in.  The world’s largest cement trucks are currently en route to the facility to begin the process, but until it is determined how much water has leaked into the ground surrounding the facility, the true extent of this calamity will remain unknown.  The evacuation zone around the the location has been extended even further out in the past few days.

A month since the initial event, and things simply don’t seem to be getting anywhere near improving.

Please remember you can help by checking out the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Relief.

7
Apr
2011

Japan mapAftershocks are to be expected to last in Japan in the wake of the March 11th Japan Earthquake-Tsunami for up to a year, but I don’t think anyone was expecting them to be around a 7.4 up to almost a month later.

Japan was struck with a massive 7.4 aftershock today 61 miles east of Sendai, Japan, the city most famously ravaged last month by the impact of the 9+ earthquake.  While there was no major damage this time around, but there were some injuries and at least one train station’s roof began to leak leading to an evacuation of the facility.

Luckily the quake came in the middle of the night, so there weren’t many people out of their homes.  This is sure to have set back some of the progress that had been made of repairing previous damage.We’ll have to wait to see as assessments are made.

Although Japan is no at the top of the news any more like it was just a scant few weeks ago, things are still happening there, and assistance is needed.  If you have not yet donated to help, please do as things are only getting better any time soon.

Please remember you can help by checking out the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Relief.