Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Looking back at Japan since 11 March: What’s in store for all of us?

It has been a month since the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan happened on 11 March 14:46 local time (5:46 UTC) that was followed by a series of gigantic tsunamis in the eastern Pacific rim of the mainland Honshu.
Considered to be the country's worst challenge since the close of the Second World War, the international community watched in shock the chilling drama of devastation, deaths and rescues that have left many confused as the events and stories seem to race from one another.
More shocking was the Fukushima nuclear plant accident that spewed radiation in the air, food, soil and water. The public grew scared of the ill effects of power station reminiscent of the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island disasters. The whole world feared of the release of harmful radiation.
Since the devastation struck, there had been 13,116 confirmed deaths with 14,377 missing as of 11 April 10:00, which includes the 103 bodies recovered by the combined Japan-US military forces on Sunday.
Over 151,000 residents were displaced by the crippled plant and are staying at various temporary shelters and hotels provided by the state.
The government has pledged to pay the victims and business for their losses. The estimated government losses were pegged between US$295 billion to US$309 billion.
The state needs to raise US$36 billion this month for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.
The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, has offered US$2.4 million condolence money to victims. But a US estimate said the facility could face claims to as high as US$130 billion.
Since the destruction began, a series of aftershocks were felt. Another blow happened a few days ago with a 7.1 magnitude aftershock that killed five.
While writing this report, a Filipino friend told me via Facebook that another powerful tremor occurred at 15:25 JST. He told me that it is currently raining in Tokyo and his office has an earthquake sensor. He can feel the ground move. He later told me that, Ibaraki and Fukushima prefectures were hit, A tsunami warning is up. One-meter tsunami was recorded. How terrible is that?
We also have heard of heroic deeds.
The Fukushima 50 where around 400 young nuclear plant employees are working round the clock to cool down the reactors and make the world safe for mankind. Two had so far died when they were found after several days in one of the plant’s rooms. They suffered from multiple injuries.
A hospital chief risked his life to secure the only satellite phone of the infirmary.
A teenage boy and his grandmother miraculously survived the quake for nine days.
Pet animals were reunited with their owners in a dramatic display on the media.
Top personalities of the Japanese society showed sympathy and support with the people. The royal family and the prime minister had visited the evacuees.
But above these stories, I am happy that all my friends, both Japanese and non-Japanese, are safe. They told me their fears and anxieties. I had a second-hand information how the triple disasters changed the way they saw life. My non-Japanese friends only had so much admiration with the Japanese with how they are behaving themselves in this difficult time.
In an instant, all else will change.
So, what is in store for Japan now? Will they still go nuclear?
About 15,000 people marched in the streets of Tokyo outraged over the nuclear plants. It seems that the public does not anymore want man-made disasters to haunt them.
And last night, I was saddened by the revelation of a Japanese friend, Northernlight, who reported that at least 2,053 nuclear tests had been conducted by seven countries between 1945 and 1998 all over the world mainly on the Pacific Ocean, which my country is very exposed to.
Not including the nuclear testing from 1999 up to now, the following countries had so far made nuclear explosions: USA-1,032 (50.3 percent); Soviet Union-715 (34.8 percent); France-210 (10.2 percent); UK-45 (2.2 percent); China-45 (2.2 percent); India-4 (0.2 percent) and Pakistan-2 (0.1 percent). And yet, these powerful countries do not want Iran and North Korea to go nuclear. Do they want the oligopoly of the destructive weapons?
With these figures I am asking why the people are so much worrying about Fukushima. How sure is the world that the radiation they detected on the air, sea, and water came exclusively from Japan and were not contributed by these deadly experiments? We do not know the whole story yet.
What happened in Fukushima was accident. Nuclear testing wasn’t. It was intentional.

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