Japan Marks Fifth Anniversary of 2011 Tsunami

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Tsunami that struck north-eastern coast of Honshu, Japan's main island on the 11th of March 2011 caused widespread damage on land and initiated a series of large tsunami waves that devastated many coastal areas of the country.

This tsunami also instigated a major nuclear accident at Fukushima along the coast of Japan. Fukushima which is about 150 miles to the north east of Tokyo suffered a partial meltdown post the tsunami and around 470,000 people were forced to vacate their homes and find temporary shelter.


Five years down the line Japan has recovered much from the earthquake and the resultant tsunami however, still much needs to be done. Permanent housing has been built for nearly half of the evacuees and many people who were living around Fukushima plant have been allowed to return to their homes.

Five years after Tsunami:

Tomorrow Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will appear for national service in Tokyo to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The nation will observe a minute long silence at 2:46 pm. At 2:46 pm five years back earthquake had struck about 40 miles offshore.

Japan will continue to mark the anniversary of 2011 earthquake till the time recovery efforts continue.

Progress of relief work:

Japan would need $263 billion to reconstruct roads, bridges, houses, etc. destroyed by the tsunami. As yet 174,471 evacuees have not returned to their homes. Still 58,948 people are living in temporary houses. All of them will be able to move to permanent homes only by 2018.

Tsunami had destroyed or damaged 399,923 buildings, caused 15,894 deaths and 2,563 persons were reported missing. This tsunami followed a 9 magnitude earthquake. As per a report about 53 million tons of debris was hauled off to massive landfills and incinerators.

Total loss reported was 16.9 trillion yen.

The plan ahead:

The region plans to repair the embankments and build higher sea walls despite knowing that this may not help the earthquake prone Japan. The residents just hope that this may help them buy more time to reach higher grounds and also that the water will not reach as far as it reached during 2011 tsunami.

Japan also had plans to convert Fukushima nuclear power plant site into a tourist destination and there was a proposal to allow people to visit the site without protective suits by 2046. However, this plan has been scrapped as many opposed to it and called it 'dark tourism'.

Reasons for slow relief work:

The first two years were spent clearing the debris that was hauled off the landfills and to build the basic infrastructure.

Some of the delays are because of a shortage of construction workers. Also there is shortage of materials as most is diverted to the massive repair of the Fukushima nuclear plant and projects.

Fukushima nuclear plants needs to be completely ready for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Otsuchi town took a year to just develop a recovery plan as nearly all of its government administrators were killed in the tsunami and also all the records were destroyed.

One problem that Japanese authorities are facing is that of 160,000 people who were evacuated from towns around the nuclear plant due to radiation contamination, many have settled outside their hometowns now and they have started new lives and they do not intend to return to their original homes.

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