Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Struggling to maintain hope

Masashi sent the following message today.

"Today (March 29), I heard some sad news from Fukushima - that one farmer had committed suicide in despair over his lost harvest of cabbage due to the suspension of sales caused by the nuclear accident. We are hearing both good news and bad news related to the power plant and cannot see how long it will take to fully stabilize the plants. So we are afraid many farmers will lose hope.

The other bad news released today is that plutonium was found near the plant (within the surrounding yard). While the level of plutonium is very low, this indicates some problem of the containment system of the plant. If so, recovery of the plant may take an even longer time. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/29/japan-fukushima-plutonium-traces-soil

The earthquake affected a very large area, including 5 prefectures facing the Pacific Ocean and extending more than 500 km in length. The size caused many problems with the delivery of relief supplies, communication, the disparity of the type of aid required, the length of time required to build temporary housing, and so on. In Miyagi prefecture, the amount of rubble is said to be so huge that the amount is as much as the rubble normally accumulated over 23 years!! The large amount of rubble covers such large areas that one cannot find enough space to build these temporary houses. This is because the area where the tsunami created the greatest damage was located in fishing communities with only small amounts of flat land.

The national government is now trying to dispatch public officers at every level of government with expertise to help affected municipalities support administrative work or disaster relief activities. Municipal governments in the area are facing many problems caused by the disaster under the condition of fewer officials (since many officials became victims of the tsunami), loss of offices, loss of data, and so on. One municipal government lost its residents' registry as a result of the tsunami and therefore cannot exactly identify who is missing."

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