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Reactions to Disaster: 2011 Japan Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami

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Reactions to Disaster: 2011 Japan Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami

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Japan tsunami news screen capture

This article contains real comments from people who were living in Japan at the time of the disaster, and have stayed here since. The event is now known by many names: 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami; Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami; Japan Sendai Quake and Tsunami; 3/11; and many other variations.

The events that occurred in Japan (earthquake and tsunami) on March 11, and the following nuclear disaster (at Fukushima) will live on forever in world history. I will never forget seeing the wave smash Japan, live on the news in Australia. How such events are portrayed in the media, especially Western/American influenced media are usually quite sensationalist.

Japan tsunami news screen capture

NHK English provided much needed live English speaking coverage of the disaster.

Today, more than 2 months after the disaster, there is rarely a mention in the Western media about the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. However in Japan, the massive clean-up still continues as large areas were completely destroyed. The blast of media shortly after the disaster, resonates a perception that Japan is currently the most dangerous place on Earth – this is far from the truth. With a major development in the nuclear situation there is usually a short mention.

Personally, I arrived in Japan two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami. The two weeks preceding my arrival in Japan, I was daily watching Japanese and international media, researching current radiation levels and the affect on every day life that the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster was creating. A few months before this, Australia experienced some of the worst floods ever in many states, as well as a massive cyclone. I asked myself “would I have left Australia (or not travelled to Australia) shortly after these events occurred?”… of course not.

So all I could do to support Japan… was stay committed to my move to live and work in Japan.

Aerial photo of the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami

In an effort to show the current situation in Japan and real peoples reactions to the initial disaster, I put a message out to people (both Japanese and foreigners) living in Japan.

The following are real comments from people who were in Japan at the time of the disaster, and still live here today. The question asked of them:

As someone who lives in Japan, how has life with your friends/family/community/work been impacted by the recent disasters? What was your reaction at the time and thoughts since?

Australian Interactive Designer in Tokyo

It was pretty scary for the first few weeks in Tokyo. Not knowing when the next quake would come or what the real story with the nuclear disaster was. Life has since returned to normal here now. No more noticeable quakes and plenty of food and water on the shelves again. The radiation levels from the disaster are trivial and nothing to be seriously concerned about at safe distances. No reason not to come and check out a generally more subdued Tokyo conserving power.

Simon Dennett
Tokyo
Designer for iKnow.jp


Australian Professor and Bar Owner in Osaka

My comment on this is that true there was a Natural Phenomenon called an earthquake which resulted in a lot of structural damage to some buildings (namely Nuclear Power Plants) and a resulting Tsunami which caused even further damage. to a small area of Japan’s East Coast.

The biggest damage done to Japan was by the negative image being projected by the media which has brought the tourism industry to a halt. The result of this is costing more families their livelihoods than anything the earthquake did. The same thing happened to Thailand in 2004 when as a result of the Sumatra earthquake the damage caused to Thailand’s west coast ended up causing the destruction of many business’ on the East coast because of the hysteria hyped up by the media.

I’ve personally had relatives tell me I must come home until everything dies down. I put it to them would they leave Australia because of the bushfires in Victoria in 2009 or the floods in Brisbane in 2011. They said of course not don’t be ridiculous we live thousands of kilometres away from that. Then I asked why would I leave Japan, my home for 12 years, when the destruction was 800kms away. That’s how ridiculous people are being globally and they can only further damage the Japanese by not coming here to visit. Mass hysteria is a crazy and uncontrollable thing, but it does exist and the media are capable of producing it freely.

Andrew Carne
Osaka
Coolabah – coolabah.jp

Japanese woman living near the disaster area

I was first scared of what happened to Japan. Everyone started being panicy when they found out it took a while until electricity and gas were recovered. Now it has been more than two months and I feel that it was kinda ‘good’ opportunity for all the Japanese people to think of how important the lifelines – I mean gases, electricity, water, etc.- were for us and how precious they were as well. I am not quite sure that I should use the word ‘good’ though.

I think the situation here in Japan has been better except the cities along the coastline in Fukushima. If there are people who are thinking of travelling Japan around famous places such as Kyoto or Asakusa, there is no trouble getting around.

Misuzu Ishibashi
Ibariki

If you were living in Japan at the time of the earthquake and tsunami, ANYWHERE in Japan, and would like to contribute, please leave a comment or contact me.

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Deano「ヂィノ」 Wormald

Your man in Japan, online since 2009. I used to live in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, and travel to Japan at least once a year for three weeks.

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