World

Japan observed a minute of silence one year after Fukushima

Rikuzentakata-SHI, Japan – The Japanese are united in prayer and silence on Sunday, the first anniversary of the 9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated the north-east 11 March, 2011. The disaster left over 19,000 dead or missing and triggered the central Fukushima worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.In the devastated city of Rikuzentakata, on the northeast coast of Japan, a siren screamed at 14:46 (local time) the exact time that happened the magnitude 9. About 30 minutes after the initial quake, waves up in places nearly 15m high had swept the coasts.

A maroon-robed Buddhist priest struck a huge bell in a temple damaged overlooking the devastated area where houses stood before.

Hashikai Mika, a Japanese woman 37 years who lost her father and mother in the tsunami, laid flowers in front of the old houses of her friends and neighbors. Her brother has meanwhile lost his wife and daughter in the disaster. “Maybe one day he could remarry and have more children. I just want my brother finds happiness, he who has lost everything and finds himself alone,” she said.

At the same moment in the coastal town of Onagawa, residents turned to the ocean joined their hands for a silent prayer. At Koriyama, a town further inland, which now houses many refugees, a ceremony in memory of the victims was held at the stadium in baseball.

“At night I wonder if I’m not going to end up dying there” in Koriyama, says Toshisuke Hashimoto, 80 years. “And I feel alone. There is not much to do, if only I had wings, I would fly away and go home now” in Tomioka. “But I can not,” laments the old man.

Meanwhile, the National Theatre in Tokyo, Emperor Akihito, aged 78, Empress Michiko and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda attending a memorial ceremony with hundreds of other Japanese. Even in the commercial district of Shibuya lively in the capital, passersby stopped to mark the moment of silence.The Prime Minister recalled that the Japanese people had overcome the past disasters and other difficult times. He pledged to rebuild the country and the perimeter of the nuclear plant in Fukushima Dai-ichi, so that the country “and be reborn even better.” Mr. According to Noda, the “period of intensive reconstruction” will last “five years, aiming a full recovery in ten years. With this in mind, the first year is only one step on the long road of reconstruction” , he said.

The Emperor, for his part underlined the difficulty in decontaminating the irradiated areas around the plant and the importance of “disaster”.

The anti-nuclear protesters in a park in central Tokyo have also observed the minute’s silence before traveling outside the headquarters of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the plant in Fukushima.

A year after the earthquake and especially the devastating tsunami it triggered, some 325,000 people who lost their homes or been evacuated are still living in temporary housing. Much of the rubble of the devastated coast has been gathered into huge piles. But the difficult reconstruction has barely begun, colliding with the lack of coordination between local and central authorities.

An interim report published last December by a commission of inquiry mandated by the government has questioned TEPCO, but the Japanese authorities for their unpreparedness and mismanagement of the crisis.

According to the interim report of 507 pages, prepared after interviews with more than 400 speakers, the Japanese government has vastly underestimated the risk of tsunami. As for technicians Tepco, they were not trained to deal with the situation.

The tsunami has turned off the cooling systems of the plant, causing the fuel melting in three reactors. Their temperature is now back to normal, but radiation continues to escape from the central Fukushima now closed. According to government forecasts made last December, it will take at least 40 years to dismantle the damaged power plant and clean up the site.

 

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