Monday, May 23

Living in damaged houses / Disaster victims endure unsafe structures, lack of utilities

Many people are continuing to live in homes severely damaged by tsunami in the March 11 disaster, despite the risk of collapse from aftershocks and in some cases a lack of water and electricity.

Various reasons have kept people in their homes--some cite chronic health conditions while others say the evacuation centers where they took shelter have closed. Many people are living on the second floor of their home, as the first was flooded by tsunami.

Even local governments do not have a full picture of such residents' living environment, and experts warn that sanitary conditions inside the houses will deteriorate in the upcoming rainy season.

Transport company operator Isao Sato, 70, is living with his wife, Kazuko, 62, on the second floor of their house in the Minato district of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. Many houses were damaged, some severely, by the tsunami in this seaside district.

Isao and Kazuko removed the mud deposited by the tsunami, which submerged the first floor. However, the ceiling was severely damaged, its heat-insulating materials exposed.

The couple did not go to a shelter because of Isao's chronic rheumatism. He gives himself an injection twice a week and warms his body by a stove even during daytime.

"If I go to a shelter in my condition, we'll just inconvenience other people," Isao said.

His house was judged by the city government to be essentially "destroyed." It trembles and makes loud noises when aftershocks hit.

The Satos sleep in their clothes every night. When they receive quake warnings on their cell phones, they evacuate to the second floor of a large commercial building about 300 meters from their house. "We haven't been able to sleep well because of anxiety," Sato said.

Norihiko Takahashi, 48, farmed wakame seaweed and scallops in Minami-Sanrikucho, Miyagi Prefecture. He left a shelter that closed May 4 and returned home with his wife and eldest daughter.

At one point they stayed in a minshuku inn, but they could not secure a room just for their family.
The Takahashis now live on mats laid on the second floor of their severely damaged house. They have no electricity or tap water, and are living on rationed bread, onigiri rice balls and drinking water obtained from a nearby distribution center.

"We'll live here until we're chosen in the lottery for a temporary housing unit," Takahashi said. "I'll repair this house, even if it's just a little bit at a time."

Read the whole story

Here are the latest reports on the quake victims in Japan.

・Japanese Red Cross

Marubeni to sell 'power-saving' condos

Marubeni Corp. plans to sell "power- saving condominiums" designed to cope with a possible prolonged power shortage in areas serviced by Tokyo Electric Power Co., sources said.
The condominiums will be equipped with solar power generators and meet the government's goal of cutting power use by 15 percent.

The first eight-story condominium will be built in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.

The total floor space will be about 5,400 square meters, enough to accommodate 61 households.

The company will soon begin selling units under the plan and residents will be able to move in from April next year.

The condominium's solar power unit will be able to supply 10 kilowatts of power, enough to cover about 15 percent of the power needed for lighting and air-conditioning in communal areas such as elevators and the lobby.

The condominium will be equipped with indoor facilities where residents can grow vegetables. An electric car for car-sharing will be also provided.

Marubeni is considering equipping the condominiums with storage batteries so automatic doors and elevators can operate during rolling blackouts.

From Yomiuri Shimbun

Saturday, May 21

China, SKorea leaders tour devastated Japan region

TOKYO – The leaders of Japan, China and South Korea gathered Saturday to demonstrate their shared desire for Japan's earthquake and tsunami recovery and to smooth out differences over Japan's handling of its nuclear crisis.

Ahead of a trilateral summit, the leaders met in the city of Fukushima, just 40 miles (60 kilometers) from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which suffered severe damage from the March 11 disaster.

The earthquake and tsunami left more than 24,000 people dead or missing and sparked an ongoing crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi. China and South Korea have been critical of Japan's response to the nuclear crisis, particularly about the release of radiation into the ocean and the monitoring of food exports for contamination.

Japan hopes the visit by the two leaders will help ease concerns and import restrictions on Japanese produce. The summit was expected to focus on the nuclear crisis and ways for each country to help Japan's recovery.

In a nod to local farmers, the three leaders sampled cherries, tomatoes, strawberries and cucumbers grown in Fukushima.

"It was my decision to come to Fukushima," China's Premier Wen Jiabao said. "I come here on behalf of all the Chinese people."

Read the whole story;_ylt=AjqLrt4fhILrnuh79F5l49KnxQ8F;_ylu=X3oDMTMwdGlnbjNvBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwNTIxL2FzX2phcGFuX3RyaWxhdGVyYWxfc3VtbWl0BHBvcwMxBHNlYwN5bl9wYWdpbmF0ZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA2NoaW5hc2tvcmVhbA--

Here are the latest reports on the quake victims in Japan.

・Japanese Red Cross

Tuesday, May 10

Japan Earthquake: Two Months Later

Two months ago this week, on March 11, the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan. As of today, nearly 15,000 deaths have been confirmed, and more than 10,000 remain listed as missing.

In some coastal communities, where the ground has sunk lower than the high tide mark, residents are still adjusting to twice-daily flooding. Many thousands still reside in temporary shelters because their homes were either destroyed or lie within the exclusion zone around the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Now that tourism season has arrived, Japan -- especially Fukushima prefecture -- is finding itself hit by yet another disaster: visits to the country have dropped by 50 percent.  A collection of images from the tsunami-affected areas of Japan over the past several weeks.

Read the whole story

Wakana Kumagai, 6, waits for her mother Yoshiko after visiting the grave of her father, who was killed by the March 11 tsunami, at a temporary mass grave site in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi prefecture, April 21, 2011, after attending an entrance ceremony of Omagari elementary school. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)

A cyclist stops to see the road blocked by fishing boats washed ashore in an area destroyed by the
March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Monday, May 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)

A man talks on his cell phone as he sits on a sofa among the rubble in the area devastated by March 11
earthquake and tsunami in the town of Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, on Saturday, April 23, 2011.

Source: the Atlantic

Here are the latest reports on the quake victims in Japan.

・Japanese Red Cross

Monday, May 9

Reading of environmental radioactivity level by prefecture: Japan

Reading of environmental radioactivity level by prefecture issued by MEXT, Ministry of education, culture, sports, science, and technology, Japan

For your travel tips if you're considering visiting Japan.

Central and southern part of Japan is safe and unaffected!

Is it safe to travel to Japan?

For those who have postponed their trip to Japan due to the recent earthquake aftermath, here are some sites you may want to look at.

Central and southern Japan is safe and unaffected.

Seeing happy faces of travellers from overseas would be a big encouragement to us all in Japan.

(Related article) Is It Safe To Travel To Japan?

With the recent devastation that has occurred in Japan many tourists may have been put off travelling to this wonderful nation. Whilst the country has not only had to deal with the horrific repercussions of the earthquake and tsunami, fears of rising radiation levels for nuclear power plants have also struck much of the east coast of Japan. However, there are a number of places in this technologically advanced country which remain safe for visitors to explore. And in some ways, providing much needed tourism and therefore funds to this critically injured nation could offer some support which is very much need.
For travellers wanting to visit Japan, the best regions are those in Central and Southern Japan.

Japan travel mate website →

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan website →

JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) Staff blog in English →

Friday, May 6

Thousands of animals still waiting to be rescued in the 20km evac zone in Fukushima

As of Monday, the Fukushima Prefectural Government began taking custody of pets around Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, according to Mainichi News. The initiative is based on the Rabies Prevention Act and mainly covers stray and unconfined dogs. Whether to take chained dogs, cats and other animals will be decided by veterinarians after examining their health. A team of 11 workers, including seven veterinarians, are testing animals for radiation exposure on the spot.

The prefectural government says it will post information to identify pets on its website. Officials also said it will not kill the animals but will try to find new homes if their original guardians fail to show up during a certain period of time. Yesterday, the vets removed five dogs and one cat, all of whom had nearly non-existent radiation exposure levels. Let’s hope the efforts can ramp up significantly to pull many more pets from the approximately 12-mile zone.

Sadly, Fukushima officials have been culling farm animals who are said to be near death since last Thursday.

Fukushima Prefectural Government has set up Fuskuhima Animal Rescue HQ, an initiative to save abandoned pet animals.  Pictures of rescued pet within the evacuation zone are also posted. (Site in Japanese language only)
Fuskuhima Animal Rescue HQ→

Here are the latest reports on the quake victims in Japan.

・Japanese Red Cross

Thursday, May 5

Number of quake orphans reached 132

May 5 is a holiday entitled "Children's Day" in Japan.

While many children were having a good day at holiday destinations with their family, my attention was drawn to one web-article.

Number of quake-tsunami orphans whose parents are dead or still missing reached 132, and the number is expected to increase.

Compared with the Great Hanshin Earthquake that struck early in the morning, the majority of children were at school on the Friday when the Tohoku earthquake hit and were able to evacuate safely.

However, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is having difficulty collecting information about orphans from local governments in disaster-stricken areas. Therefore, the ministry is sending local government officials from other regions to assist with such efforts.

Special care and financial support for these children is urgently needed.

Here are the latest reports on the quake victims in Japan.

・Japanese Red Cross

Friday, April 29

Chinese journalists change image of Japan after covering March disaster

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- A number of Chinese journalists saw their long-held negative views about Japan and its people change completely after traveling to northeastern Japan to cover the aftermath of the March 11 quake-tsunami disaster, according to their reports to a recent symposium with university students in Beijing.

Impressed by the orderly and patient behavior of disaster victims and the relatively high transparency of information released, they said they developed a feeling of respect toward the Japanese.

Chen Jie, 38, a cameraman from Beijing News, was one of them. While admitting that he had felt resentment and mistrust toward the Japanese for a long time, he said, "The prejudice that I felt gradually disappeared while I was there, trying to cover the disaster damage."

He was moved, he said, when he saw people patiently queue up in front of shops following disruption to merchandize distribution. He also noted that shop owners had not taken advantage of the confusion to indulge in price gouging and that even family members of those who had died tried to restrain themselves from crying openly during burial rituals.

"I was surprised that I was given priority treatment at a gas station as I had an emergency press pass," he said, showing slide photos of a large number of people waiting for their turn to fill their vehicles.

The story touched on how Self-Defense Forces members gave a salute to dead people before burying them, providing a new image of SDF members, whom ordinary Chinese still tend to view in ways colored by memories of the wartime Imperial Japanese Army.

Volunteers prepare to give out food to people in a school gymnasium acting as a shelter for those whose homes were damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, Japan

Read the whole story

Here are the latest reports on the quake victims in Japan.

・Japanese Red Cross

Thursday, April 28

Tsunami video clip released by Japan Coast Guard, Apr 28

This video was released by JCG, Japan Coast Guard today after a month and a half from March 11.
It was shot at JCG Sendai Air Base adjacent to Sendai Airport.  Cars, buildings... even aircrafts are engulfed by massive tsunami. 

Here are the latest reports on the quake victims in Japan.

・Japanese Red Cross