A Year After Japan’s Triple Disaster, An Uncertain Recovery

(Chico Harlan/Washington Post)
ISHINOMAKI, Japan — One year later, nothing is resolved. The rubble and ocean muck of last March 11 have been scrubbed from every wall, pulled from every basement and picked from every crevasse. Now the debris is piled in terraced mountains at the edge of this town along Japan’s tsunami-devastated northeastern coastline.

But even after months of cleanup, the reconstruction remains at a starting point, equally capable of taking off or faltering, depending on whether people stick around. A full recovery, if it’s possible, will take at least a decade, authorities say. Residents along the battered coast must be willing to endure trying conditions — prefab houses that don’t stay warm; communities that don’t provide jobs; grief that doesn’t abate — all because they hope that, eventually, they will regain normal lives in functional towns.

…The progress of the last year, though, doesn’t begin to offset the damage of Japan’s greatest crisis since World War II. The triple disaster — an earthquake, a tsunami, a resulting triple meltdown at a nuclear plant — left 19,000 dead and displaced some 342,000 from their homes. Because of public opposition to nuclear power, only two of Japan’s 54 reactors are now in operation, prompting energy companies to fire up old thermal plants and import more coal and gas.
(Read the full story at the Washington Post)



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