On this day…..five years ago, one of the most powerful earthquakes in history unleashed a tsunami that killed 18,000 people in Japan, and drove nearly half a million from their homes as it caused the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
Five years later, 180,000 have still not been able to return home, more than half of them from Fukushima, where nearly 800,000 tons of contaminated water are still stored in tanks at the stricken nuclear plant. It is not clear when, how, or if the water will be disposed of.
After the tsunami, all of Japan’s nuclear plants were shut down, and only a few have been restarted, often in the face of protests from local people. Just this week, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the country could not do without nuclear power in the long-term, but also this week, two of the plants that had restarted were forced to shut again.
The government has invested billions in reconstruction, but much more is needed. A volunteer fireman who lost 51 colleagues said: ‘Infrastructure is recovering, hearts are not.’ (see also my posts of 19 March 2011, 11 March 2013, 11 March 2014.)