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Japan's 2011 earthquake disaster still reverberates

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Japan's 2011 earthquake disaster still reverberates


Four years ago on 11th March the earth shook Japan. The magnitude nine quake went on for six minutes, the strongest the archipelago had ever recorded.

A terrible phase two followed. The epicentre of the quake was out to sea. The Pacific Ocean heaved, sending waves as high as ten metres charging towards shore.

The crushing force crashed along the northeastern coast; 18,000 people died. The natural catastrophe was far more than even monumental man-made structures could withstand.

The tsunami hammered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing an electrical cooling system failure in reactor unit 1. An explosion smashed open the reinforced concrete containment shell the next day. The worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986 grew worse as emergency teams proved helpless to prevent a meltdown of three of the plant’s six reactors.

Japan had not suffered so since World War Two. The nuclear disaster zone was evacuated; 150,000 people had to abandon their homes. An exclusion zone was drawn up around Fukushima.

Today, after four years of that, water continues to leak out, radiation still escaping, and 126,000 inhabitants still can’t go back.

Japan halted all of the country’s 48 reactors after Fukushima. But after the extended energy shortage from that, the government wants to re-activate production from four of those that have passed nuclear safety tests. This is with more than 60 percent of Japanese people now hostile to this form of energy. Opponents are suing the government to prevent re-starting this June.

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