Marking The One-Year Anniversary Of The Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami
March 10, 2012

Marking The One-Year Anniversary Of The Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami

World leaders, scientists, and members of the media are among those pausing this weekend to reflect on the one-year anniversary of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 and, combined with the ensuing tsunami, caused widespread death and destruction throughout the country.

"As we mark one year since the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan, Michelle and I join all Americans in honoring the memory of the 19,000 victims lost or missing," US President Barack Obama said in a statement Friday. "We continue to be inspired by the Japanese people, who faced unimaginable loss with extraordinary fortitude. Their resilience and determination to rebuild stronger than before is an example for us all."

"No one can forget the tragic images of disaster in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, or the heartbreak of friends who lost homes, belongings, and, most importantly, loved ones," he added. "Even as it works to rebuild its devastated northeastern region, Japan has never wavered from its steadfast commitment to help other countries around the world. So on this day when our thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people in remembrance of the hardship faced one year ago, let us also celebrate the recovery underway in Japan and pay tribute to Japan´s unflagging dedication to bettering the lives of others throughout the world."

According to Meteorologist Eric Leister, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the 9.0 magnitude seismic event, which occurred off the east coast of Japan, was tied for the fourth-strongest earthquake since 1900. The ensuing tsunami is said to have been the highest ever recorded in Japan, reaching 127 feet in some location. Combined, the two disasters resulted in over 15,000 fatalities, with thousands more missing, and Leister, citing Japan Times reports, said that nearly 10% of the nation's fishing ports were either damaged or destroyed as a result of the tsunami.

"The other main story to come from the earthquake and tsunami was the meltdown of a reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which occurred when the tsunami crashed over the tsunami wall and inundated parts of the facility," he added. "Cleanup efforts are ongoing in and around the site of Power Plant to prevent further contamination of soil and water."

As previously reported on RedOrbit, earlier this week, professors from three American universities called for a long-term study of how fuel at nuclear power plants responds to extreme environmental conditions such as the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

University of Notre Dame Professor of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences Peter C. Burns, University of Michigan Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Rodney Ewing, and Alexandra Navrotsky of the University of California-Davis wrote a review article, published in this week's edition of the journal Science, are calling on US officials to be launch a study in order to be better prepared for such events in the future.

Japan's auto and tourism industries were also heavily impacted by the events of March 11, 2011. While officials with the International Tourism Promotion Division at Japan Tourism Agency told the Associated Press (AP) that tourism was "picking up" this year following a nearly 30% decrease from 2010 to 2011, 89.3 KPCC's website reported Friday that the automotive industry was "still recovering."

Personal recollections of that day's events are also being shared in honor of the anniversary.

In a piece published in the Daily Mail, CNN's Tokyo Correspondent Kyung Lah described her experience on that say, noting that she had felt "innumerable earthquakes in Japan" but that the March 11, 2011 one "felt unlike all the others I'd experience." When the earthquake began, Lah said that she was in the subway working on a story, when she "felt the earth move" at 2:46pm that afternoon.

"The vending machines rattled on the concrete.  The electronic signs creaked overhead.  And then I heard a gasp of panic.  I turned to see a middle-aged passenger leaning against the subway wall.  She was gripping another woman, hunching down, but looking at me with a face frozen with fear," she said. "The Japanese pride themselves as a culture of emotional self-restraint and decorum. I had rarely ever seen a flicker of emotion on a Japanese public street from passers-by, especially during an earthquake. This woman's face told me this was a disaster."


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