Entries in Japan Earthquake (11)


Japan Marks Second Anniversary of Deadly Earthquake and Tsunami

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Services were held in Japan on Monday to mark the second anniversary of a devastating earthquake and tsunami that took nearly 19,000 lives and triggered the worst nuclear power plant accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

The entire Japanese nation paused for a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m. to mark the exact moment when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Northern Japan on March 11, 2011.  Memorial ceremonies took place in several locations around the country, including areas along the coast that were overwhelmed by the killer tsunami that followed the quake.  Tens of thousands of people remain displaced because their communities were washed away by the tsunami.


The tsunami also battered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering meltdowns in three reactors and the release of deadly radiation into the air.  Some 160,000 people were forced to evacuate the region surrounding the power plant.  They have not been allowed to return to their homes.

Eight hundred evacuees displaced by the nuclear disaster filed a class-action lawsuit against the plant operator and the Japanese government on Monday.  The victims are demanding that the land, their homes and the natural environment be restored to pre-disaster conditions.  They’re also seeking medical compensation related to radiation exposure and the stress of being displaced.

The plaintiffs, which include housewives, fishermen and farmers, are demanding a monthly payment of 50,000 yen, approximately $540, in addition to the monthly $1,000 compensation they already receive.

Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors were shut down for inspection after the deadly quake, and only two have been put back into service.  On Sunday, thousands of people marched in the streets of Tokyo, calling for an end to the use of nuclear power in Japan.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Disasters, Jazz Unite Young New Orleans, Japanese Musicians

Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc(NEW ORLEANS) -- It was a scene straight out of Mardi Gras — parasols out, horns blaring that familiar sound.

But the celebration played out thousands of miles from the French Quarter, along a Japanese coast still digging out of last year’s catastrophic tsunami.

The rousing performance by New Orleans’ Tipitina’s Internship Program Band, and The Chosen Ones brass band from O. Perry Walker High School brought traditionally shy Japanese musicians to their feet, dancing.

“We did the performance to show that there’s no bad thing that can happen,” 16-year-old trombone player George Brown said. “There’s nothing that can keep people down. The music will just lift you up.”

The sounds of “Bourbon Street Parade” marked the latest chapter in a unique cultural exchange that has forged an unlikely friendship between young musicians in New Orleans and Japan.

Disaster first brought the two groups together.

When Hurricane Katrina struck, flood waters nearly silenced the Crescent City’s famous jazz music – washing away the only instruments the musicians had.

“My entire family played so you could just see something was taken away once the piano was gone,” said Joe Dyson, 22, a member of Tipitina’s Intern Band. “There was nothing. That release was gone.”

The silence didn’t last long, thanks to help from Japanese trumpet player Yoshio Toyama and his World Jazz Foundation. A fixture at New Orleans’s Satchmo Festival, Toyama and his wife Keiko were first drawn to the city by its jazz music nearly 40 years ago, and lived there for five years. Dismayed by the gun violence, the couple began their foundation to “save kids through music.”

They began by donating a handful of trumpets and trombones, but Katrina kicked the foundation into high gear.

To date, Toyama has donated nearly 800 instruments to New Orleans’s schoolchildren, on behalf of the people of Japan.

“I think Jazz is the most wonderful present from the United States and New Orleans to the world,” he said. ” I wanted to give back and say ‘thank you.”

When a powerful earthquake and tsunami struck the northeast coast of Japan last year, the tables turned. O. Perry Walker band director Wilbert Rawlins, who had long been on the receiving end of Toyama’s donations, rallied his students to host a fundraiser for musicians in Japan.

The Tipitina’s Foundation joined him, and donated $11,000 to his tsunami fund.

“When I saw the tsunami on TV, it reminded me so much of New Orleans. My heart just went out,” said Donald Harrison Jr., artistic director for Tipitina’s band.

Roughly 13,000 homes were destroyed in the city of Kesennuma, but the local Swing Dolphins band never missed a beat, thanks to the generous donations. The 24 elementary and junior high members performed outside a temporary shelter a month and a half later, with the very instruments they received.

Earlier this month, 16 students from O. Perry Walker and Tipitina’s traveled to Japan for the first time, to perform with the Swing Dolphins.

When they entered the band room in Kesennuma, they got a hero’s welcome.

There were few words exchanged, but the beats, the rhythm spoke a universal language. By the time the group finished the second line at the Kesennuma Street Live Music Festival, even the oldest in the crowd were on their feet, parasols in hand.

With the first duet complete, the groups are now preparing for the next. The Swing Dolphins plan to travel to New Orleans next year.

“This collaboration is going to change lives,” Harrison said. “In the future, we’ll see the effects. We’ll see great musicians come out of Japan, who will be our brothers and sisters.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Seafood Caught in Fukushima Back on Sale in Japan

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- For the first time since last year's nuclear disaster in Japan, people in Fukushima Prefecture are once again getting a taste of seafood caught in their own backyard.

Fisherman in Fukushima began selling their catch at local grocery stores on Monday, 15 months after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the country.  The catch was limited to octopus and marine snails, largely because of radiation concerns.  The government banned the sale of 36 other fish, saying they tested for radiation that exceeded acceptable levels.

According to Japan's national broadcaster NHK, the seafood is going for about 70 percent of what it went for in stores before the disasters hit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan Tsunami Debris: Under Control or on the Brink of Disaster?

Hemera Technologies/ YORK) -- Scientists estimate that the mass of debris from the Japanese earthquake making its way to the United States and Canadian coastlines is three times the size of the U.S.

While the government says the situation is under control, some experts insist there is no solid plan for "an event that is unprecedented in history."

This week, a dock from Japan washed up in Oregon. In recent months, other items, including a fishing boat, a motorcycle and a soccer ball, have made their way to the U.S. and Canada. And these items are just the beginning of what's to come.

The Japan Ministry of Environment estimated that 5 million tons of debris washed into the ocean after the tsunami that killed thousands of people. It said about 70 percent of the debris sank near the coast of Japan and the remaining 30 percent -- approximately 1.5 million tons of debris -- floated into the Pacific Ocean.

Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer is Seattle who has been tracking ocean debris for most of his 40-year career, is unsatisfied with the government's response to the impending influx of debris.

"There's no plan," Ebbesmeyer told "Plans are being talked about, but they're fairly generic and they're basically all business as usual, and one thing that's clear is that this tsunami debris is unprecedented in recorded history."

Ebbesmeyer predicted that the bulk of the debris will reach the U.S. coast from Northern California to Alaska in October, with more to follow.

Ebbesmeyer was having a difficult time wrapping his head around the sheer enormity of the debris and wanted to give others a relatable way to think about the mass. One of the items he likes to work with is yellow rubber ducks.

Based on Ebbesmeyer's calculations and the conservative estimate of 1 million tons of debris, the weight of the debris floating in the Pacific is equivalent to the weight of 50 billion rubber ducks.

"We've got three months until we're deluged," he said. "It's past time for business as usual. We need to come up with some simple directives."

For 2012, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has $4.6 million devoted to marine debris and $618,000 of that amount is dedicated to the cleanup of the Japanese marine debris, according to NOAA.

"Marine debris has been an everyday problem long before the tsunami," NOAA spokeswoman Keeley Belva told "It's not a new problem."

Belva said NOAA is tracking the debris and has a section of its website dedicated to frequently updated information about marine debris, including guidelines for people who come across debris.

"We're encouraging people to continue going to the beach and doing things like that, but if they see debris that looks dangerous, we're asking them to act appropriately" by calling an emergency number of the Coast Guard, Belva said.

If citizens come across disposable or recyclable items, she said, they can help by picking them up and putting them in an appropriate place.

NOAA is also working with commercial shipping companies who notify them when they spot potential debris and the Japanese consulate so that items of great monetary or personal value could potentially be returned to their owners. Ebbesmeyer does not think the efforts are enough, calling them "generic."

"They need specific community plans. They need to work with the citizens," he said. "Which landfills can they take [the items] to in their communities?"

Ebbesmeyer said he is greatly concerned with two other central issues connected to the debris. The first is that it's estimated that about half of the debris is Styrofoam, which is not recyclable. The second is that the items could be carrying invasive Japanese species, like scientists believe the washed up dock was carrying.

The concern is that invasive species could dominate existing food and resource supplies because they would have few predators in a new environment, thereby jeopardizing existing species.

West Coast political leaders have said that the tsunami debris could accumulate to the point of becoming a national emergency.

Though Ebbesmeyer is concerned, he believes that disaster could be curbed by proactive and organized action.

"You'll wind up with beaches piled up with debris. I don't like to be too dramatic, but there will potentially be very large amounts, and then it will maybe get to the category of an emergency," Ebbesmeyer said. "It's possible that we may need heroic efforts to deal with the debris in some locations, but, if we're organized, we don't need to do that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Owner of Japanese Boat that Drifted to Canada Doesn't Want It Back

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The owner of an empty Japanese fishing boat that drifted across the Pacific after being washed away by the powerful tsunami last year, says he does not want the boat back, according to a Japanese Coast Guard official.

The rusty, 150-foot vessel was spotted in Canadian waters last week, roughly 900 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Coast Guard spokesman Masahiro Ichijou said the vessel belonged to a fishing company in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.

Officials contacted the 60-year-old owner in the city of Hakkodate, who said he cancelled the boat registration shortly after the disaster last March, thinking the vessel had been lost at sea, forever.

“Usually boat owners are not allowed to cancel registration until they properly dispose or dismantle it,” Ichijou said.  “But with the disaster last year, we made an exception.  This is an unprecedented case.”

According to local media reports, the 30-year-old vessel had been used for squid fishing in northern Japan years ago, but the owner put it up for sale, deciding it was too old.

It was docked in the Aomori Prefecture, unused, when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the country on March 11, unleashing a catastrophic tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people.

The 150-ton boat was spotted nearly a year later on March 20, during a routine patrol by a Canadian Forces aircraft.

“The owner has said he is no longer responsible because he cancelled the registration, but that puts us in a bind,” Ichijou said.  “We have a boat with no owner, and we’re trying to determine how to move forward.”

Ichijou said standard practice requires countries where marine trash and debris are found, to pick up the cost for disposal.  However, with more than a million tons of debris drifting towards the U.S. and Canada, he said the government is treating the problem separately.  They have already set aside a budget to track and monitor the debris.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tsunami-Ravaged Japanese Fishing Vessel Spotted Near Vancouver

Sankei via Getty Images(VANCOUVER) -- Just over a year ago, a fishing boat was going about its business near Hokkaido, Japan, when an unimaginable disaster struck -- a giant earthquake followed by a horrific tsunami.

This past weekend, that same boat, now nicknamed a "ghost ship," was spotted about 160 miles off the coast of Vancouver.

The 150-foot freighter is the largest piece of debris to have reached the West Coast of North America since the tsunami that devastated a good portion of northeastern Japan.

No one is believed to be on board the fishing boat.  The Japanese government listed its owner as missing.

Canadian authorities don't consider the ship an environmental hazard although it could soon be washed ashore by a major storm.

The boat has also caught the attention of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which anticipated that much of the millions of tons of tsunami debris wouldn't arrive in the U.S. until before next year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan Rocked by Nearly 10,000 Tremors in Quake Aftermath

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- As Japan readies to remember the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck the country exactly a year ago from Sunday, more details are surfacing as to just how active the Earth has been since then.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) says about 10,000 tremors have rocked Japan since the disasters hit on March 11, 2011.  That's more than eight times the number recorded the year before.

The majority of the tremors -- 70 percent -- were aftershocks from the large quake, according to the agency, but there's also been a notable amount of shaking inland as well.

What's more, the JMA says the tectonic plates underneath Japan continue to shift the country eastward, so more strong quakes are likely.

Last March's earthquake crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering a nuclear crisis in the country.  Nearly 20,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of others were displaced from their homes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Monkeys to Track Fallout from Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Plant

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Wild monkeys have been enlisted by Japanese researchers to obtain detailed readings of radiation levels in forests near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Professor Takayuki Takahashi and his team of scientists at Fukushima University are fitting nearly 1,000 animals with radiation meters and GPS transmitters in order to track the spread of radiation leaked from March’s nuclear accident -- the worst in Japan’s history.

Until now, radiation monitoring has been conducted primarily by air, using helicopters equipped with testing devices.  Takahashi says aerial monitoring can track radiation across a wide area, but it only gives a general idea of radiation levels on the ground, not specifics on its movement.

“The monkeys can help us get more accurate readings in areas that aren’t so accessible,” Takahashi said.  “We’ll get a better idea of how radiation is spread by rain, by plants, by rivers in the forest.”

Researchers also hope to monitor the amount of radiation exposure in wild animals.

The project is being launched in partnership with Minamisoma, one of the cities hardest hit by the nuclear disaster.  Radiation fears prompted more than half of its 67,000 residents to evacuate in Fukushima’s aftermath.  A third of the city sits inside the 12-mile government mandated exclusion zone deemed too dangerous for people to live in.  In the larger Fukushima prefecture, more than 80,000 residents have been displaced by the nuclear disaster.

With 14 monkey colonies in Minamisoma’s forests alone, Takahashi is hopeful his researchers will get a broad spectrum of readings, from the ground level to the highest trees.  The collars equipped with radiation meters and GPS transmitters will be detachable by remote control, but the plan is to keep the devices on the animals for decades.

Takahashi says his team will begin monitoring levels next spring.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan Earthquake Knocked Satellites off Their Orbits

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- The 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan in March was so powerful, it not only triggered a tsunami and a nuclear crisis, but also knocked a couple of satellites off their orbits

Natural disasters can often change the Earth's gravitational field, but a NASA researcher says the massive quake affected gravity's pull of satellite orbits, marking only the third time that has happened.

Satellites were previously shifted off track during the Indonesian quake in 2004 and the powerful quake in Chile last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


7.3 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Northeastern Japan

NASA/Getty Images(HONSHU, Japan) -- An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 hit the northeastern coast of Japan Sunday, briefly triggering a tsunami warning for the area still recovering from the devastating quake and killer wave four months ago.

The tremor, which hit at 9:57 a.m. local time, caused more concern than problems. No major injuries or damages have been reported. The residents of coastal areas were evacuated for about two hours after the earthquake, but the tsunami warning has since been lifted.

The earthquake's epicenter was off the coast of Japan's main island, Honshu, in the Pacific Ocean.

There is no tsunami danger for the United States' West Coast or Hawaii, according to officials, and the Japanese nuclear power plant in the region was not affected.

On March 11, the northeastern coast of Japan was hit by a 9.0 earthquake -- the strongest in Japanese history -- and a tsunami that devastated the region, triggered a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power plant and left nearly 23,000 people dead or missing.

Since then, dozens of strong aftershocks have rattled the region, including a 5.6 quake in the Pacific off Honshu on Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The area still has a long way to go toward recovery. Because seawalls were destroyed in the March 11 disaster and many of the buildings are still structurally weak, even smaller-scale earthquakes can do damage, but for now, the Japanese are in the clear.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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