Today in Japan marks three years since the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster in the Tohoku area of Japan—the 3/11 triple disaster. Japanese society marks services for the passing of the dead at specified intervals, including one at the third anniversary of death, making this year especially important. I would like to join my heart and prayers with all those honoring the death of loved ones, and the loss of so much history and heritage.
I occasionally worked in Soma, with some wonderful people. On 3/11 I was so proud that they were able to evacuate hundreds of people in LESS THAN FIFTEEN MINUTES, all of them getting to safety and out to help their families and communities. Most of the facility itself was inundated, much of it lost. Not all were so fortunate. On this third anniversary, 2,636 people are still missing. The official death toll stands at 15,884 in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, according to the National Police Agency. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people still live in ‘temporary’ dwellings, three years later.
For many communities, anxiety over radiation poisoning remains high, as many in Japan discuss either re-opening the nation’s nuclear plants or closing them entirely. National planners wish to get Tohoku areas rebuilt but often there is a sense of disjunction between the views of bureaucrats based in central cities and those of local Tohoku dwellers living in affected communities. The Seattle Times has run an excellent article entitled, “Recovery isn’t in sight 3 years after Japan’s tsunami.” I also found an article about the technological advances that are occurring because of this disaster. I have long been opposed to nuclear power, and pray the Japanese people will find other workable power sources for their needs. Last year at this time many Japanese were wearing masks, as chemical pollutants from China had drifted their way. We need to be better stewards of our planet, and what stronger call has there been?
For those of you who love movies as I do, this month the first Japanese film on the Fukushima nuclear disaster hit theaters. Entitled Homeland (Ieji or “The Road Home” in Japanese) — it features scenes shot in areas once declared no-go zones by the government due to high radiation levels. The film is about a farming family forced to leave their ancestral lands and live in temporary housing. I know I for one can’t wait to view it.
A college friend of mine who is a long-time personality on Japanese television, Dan Kahl, has been wonderfully responsible about keeping all of us informed about developments in the area of Japan in which he has lived for decades. You can follow Dan on Twitter if you are interested (he often posts in Japanese, and in Tohoku dialect at that).
The 3•11 area is really gorgeous. In closing, I thought it might be a fitting honor to share with you a timelapse movie of the natural beauty of Fukushima Prefecture.