Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Japan Bedeviled By Three More Aftershocks On Disaster Anniversary

Kevin Douglas Grant |
April 11, 2011 | 10:08 a.m. PDT

Executive Editor

Photo by Kordian.
Photo by Kordian.
Exactly one month after Japan was rocked by the largest earthqauke in its history, a trio of aftershocks threatened to undo some of the country's plodding reconstruction efforts.

The quakes, the largest reported between 6.6 and 7.1 magnitude, "temporarily knocked out the power to the Fukushima nuclear power plant and led to a 50-minute stoppage in the water-spraying operations to cool four of the plant's six reactors. Highways were closed, bullet train services to the region were halted briefly, and as many 220,000 homes in Fukushima prefecture were without power."

Japanese officials had already been planning to extend the evacuation zone around the plant:

"Authorities have already ordered people living in a 12-mile radius around the plant to evacuate, and recommended that people avoid the area within a wider radius of 18 miles. The government’s new measures on Monday came in response to high readings of radiation in certain hot spots beyond those areas, underscoring how difficult it has been to predict the ways radiation has spread from the damaged plant."

Japan is no longer pumping low-level radioactive water into the sea after pressure from neighbors China and South Korea.

As the Washington Post chronicled Monday, more than 150,000 people continue to live in shelters as desperation sets in along the country's east coast:

"Relief workers worry about unsanitary conditions and mounting stress. Local government officials worry that prefabricated houses aren’t arriving fast enough. Evacuees worry about the months to come, and the dubiousness of searching for new homes as permanent as the ones they lost." 

Shelters don't afford much privacy and some must close as the schools that house them reopen:

"Many local governments, according to aid workers, are making attempts to break apart their largest evacuation sites, as conditions in arenas and conference centers tend to offer the least privacy. Other towns have erected makeshift barricades, allowing personal space for families."

With aid steadily streaming in from around the world, Japan is hoping to leverage the disaster into a rebirth for the former superpower, the LA Times reported
"Many want to believe that Japan can emerge from the rubble stronger, as it did after the great 1923 earthquake and the devastation of World War II. But in interviews with young and old, businessman and homemaker, bureaucrat and educator, many expressed lingering doubts about whether the country could pull together and overcome such deep-seated problems as weak leadership and Japan's huge public debt."


 

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