Earthquake in Japan – Aftermath and nuclear implications.

From: Alyssa Young ’14
Published: April 1, 2011

On March 11th, the whole world was moved by the largest earthquake ever to hit Japan. Literally. The earthquake, of 8.9 magnitude, was so forceful it changed the tilt of the earth’s axis by a small degree. Thousands of lives have been taken and the land has been torn apart. Every step of the way, the world has watched Japan’s nightmare progress with a steady stream of heart-wrenching headlines and news reports. Now, food shortages, water scarcity, power-outages, and lack of housing are all issues that rock Japan as terribly as the aftershocks.

Officials say this is the worst crisis the Japanese have faced since World War II. Yet again, their country has been torn apart. Yet again, Japanese countrymen will have to gather together and rebuild – a process that will take years and cost billions of dollars. Unfortunately, the parallels do not stop here. Due to some terrible coincidence, or bitter karma, Japan currently suffers from nuclear threat. During World War II, Japan became the only country to suffer a nuclear attack. Now, as if all the other issues were not enough, there is an ever-pressing radiation threat from nuclear power plants (such as that of Fukushima) that were compromised by the quake and subsequent tsunami.

Recently, testing confirmed the fact that milk and spinach produce from Japan contain radiation levels above the legal limit. Until then, the Japanese government had been insisting that the nuclear reactors of the Fukushima power plant had been stabilized. Courageous men braved radiation exposure in order to bring sea water to the reactors, preventing them from melting. Meanwhile, American news ran stories to the public, playing up the danger of the situation. Was American media exaggerating the power plant’s condition simply for the story? Were Japanese officials lying to keep their citizens in a state of false security?

On March 23rd, officials finally sent out a public warning, advising adults against providing tap water to infants. Health experts point out that the iodine-131 levels would also harm vulnerable fetuses of pregnant women. It is safe to assume that yes, Japanese authorities under-played the severity of the situation, to say the least.

Car manufacturing in Japan has come to a screeching halt. Farm produce up to 75 miles around Fukushima has been rendered inedible due to radiation. The United States and other countries have implemented controls on importing Japanese food stuffs. All of these factors, heaped on top of a weak economy, combine to create a recipe for disaster. One earthquake has wreaked havoc on Japan’s society, health, environment, and economy. Although donations to help with repairs have already passed 161 million dollars, this total is miniscule in comparison to the billions required to put all the pieces of this shattered country back together.