April 19, 2011

Life in Japan Update April 2011

As I’m sure you all know, Japan was recently hit with a trio of disasters. As a member of ISCA Japan, I’d like to thank everyone for their concern and warm wishes. The outpouring of support from around the world has been very heartwarming.

I don’t know how up to date everyone is on the who, what, and where of what went on, so I thought an update/recap is in order. The large earthquake of March 11th and struck north-eastern Japan the hardest, but was still strong as far south as Tokyo. The pink area in the map above is meant to represent the intensity of the earthqauke. The ensuing tsunami hit the north east coast, destroying buildings and damaging a nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture. The orange area on the map showing the tsunami damaged areas.

This resulted in eastern Japan’s electrical grid operating at 85% capacity. After experimenting with rolling blackouts to save power, they have decided to stop scheduled blackouts until the heat of summer makes them needed. As far as I know, western Japan has been completely unaffected. They use an entirely different system, with a different voltage as well.

As for radiation, the initial event caused a large amount to be released. During the first week, there were reports of increased radiation on some nearby spinach, and a few water supply had enough radiation to make them dangerous to infants. There was also amount of radiated water released into the sea, causing some stoppages in the fishing industry. Luckily for Japan, what airborne radiation that is still leaking is mostly being carried away from Japan by trade winds.

While north-eastern Japan has a lot of re-building and the immediate area around the Fukushima plant won’t be the same for quite a long time, life for most people in Japan has largely returned to normal. The numerous aftershocks seem to have died down and there are no more gas shortages or blackouts. The news seems to be focusing on the tough task of rebuilding, and trying to find the best way to rebuild. The coming of spring and the blooming of the cherry blossoms has helped lift spirits as well. It has been a crazy month. One I certainly won’t forget, but the future of Japan is looking brighter again.