Of course, today is the one year anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami, nuclear tragedy that hit Japan on the 11th of March 2012.
Strong earthquakes hit the Tohoku Region in the afternoon of March 11, 2011, triggering several meter high tsunami waves that caused massive destruction and loss of human lives in areas along the Pacific coast of eastern Japan, especially in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures.
The tremors caused major damage in areas close to the epicenter, as well as scattered fires and damage across the Tohoku and eastern Kanto area, although they did not cause widespread damage in any major city as seen in Kobe in 1995. The tsunami, however, caused extensive damage beyond imagination in coastal areas along the Pacific coast of northeastern Honshu.
Two nuclear plants at the coast of Fukushima Prefecture suffered damage from the earthquake and tsunami. Authorities have issued evacuation orders to people living within 20 kilometers of the first plant, within 10 kilometers of the second plant and to a few other badly affected areas northwest of the 20 kilometer evacuation zone. It is forbidden to enter the evacuation zone.
Large amounts of radiation were released during the days following the earthquake, causing an increase in radiation in many parts of Eastern Japan. In the meantime, however, radiation levels have fallen to normal or close to normal levels in all of Japan except around eastern Fukushima Prefecture and some other “hot spots”, where they remain heightened but do not pose a health risk to short term visitors.
Agricultural products and seafood are being monitored for heightened radiation levels, and contaminated products are kept from distribution. Nevertheless there have been a few cases of contaminated products that were not detected and made it into the markets. Note, however, that contaminated food products would have to be consumed repeatedly in large amounts over long time periods in order to pose any risk to human health. Therefore, they should pose little concern to short term visitors.
For a panicker like me, me planning a trip during all the programs that are airing to mark the 1 year anniversary couuldn’t be more wrongly timed, but I’m feeling remarkably calm. The prospects of earthquakes will of course be lying in the back of my head the whole time, but I can’t let this deter me because if your time is up, there is nothing you can do about it. And it could happen anywhere.