This week the news in Japan focused again on the struggles at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where we have recently learned that radiation surrounding the plant has increased 18-fold. Radioactive water has leaked into the ground around the plant and the radiation level is now so high that it would likely kill an exposed person in four hours. This disaster is a consequence of the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災 Higashi ninon daishinsai), which was a 9.0 magnitude undersea quake that triggered a powerful tsunami, devastating large portions of the Tohoku region of Japan. It was the 5th most powerful earthquake in recorded history and moved the island of Honshu, the Japanese mainland, 8 feet east.
Although attention is fixed on the nuclear plant, throughout Tohoku the people are still suffering. 150,000 people still find themselves displaced due to the disaster. The fishing industry remains imperiled, in part due to the lingering radiation effects. Only last month was power restored to all of the devastated areas; until this August parts of Ishinomaki were still without power. Just last week I was speaking to a local Japanese resident who visited home over the summer. His home town was completely destroyed in the Tsunami and today large portions are still completely obliterated.
Last year at the NHK annual Red and White Battle (Kohaku no Uta Gassen) the band Arashi performed a touching tribute to the brave and resilient residents of the Tohoku region, performing the song "Furusato" on a school piano rescued and rebuilt from the wreckage of the region. It was a touching tribute and you may watch it below. (Just press play on the video image after the site loads).