Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake
and Tsunami News updates
for April 16-22, 2011
This page is a continuation of my main Strongest
Earthquake and Tsunami
page, reflecting April 16-22, 2011 news updates for the
6th week after
the initial quake. Thanks so much for your
concern, and please remember in your thoughts and prayers those
thousands of people who are
suffering right now and haven't heard from their missing
News Updates for
6th Week after Japan Earthquake and Tsunami -- April
(JST=UT+9 hrs., or CDT+14 hrs., e.g. 8 am in Houston = 10 pm in Tokyo):
2011 21:05 (JST): Japan protests Snow White cartoon
about nuclear crisis
- Japan's Consulate General in New York lodged a protest with New York
Times Co on Thursday for publishing a cartoon in which Snow White,
carrying a newspaper with the headline "Japan nuclear radiation," asks
an old woman offering an apple if she comes from Japan.
The consulate said that since the cartoon refers to a story in Grimm's
Fairy Tales in which Snow White falls into a stupor after biting a
poisoned apple, it may stir up what the consulate called unfounded
anxieties over the safety of foods from Japan.
The cartoon was carried on the editorial page of the International
Herald Tribune (IHT), which is owned by the New York Times, in its
edition. (Source: Japan Today)
Snow White says, "Wait a minute! Do you come from Japan?"
2011 15:06 (JST): Evacuation zone widened beyond 20 kms from
nuclear plant - The government on Friday added some towns
outside a 20-kilometer radius of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear power plant to the list of areas covered by its evacuation
directive due to concerns over high cumulative levels of radiation
All residents in Iitate, Katsurao, Namie and some in Kawamata and
Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture must leave by around late May. These
residents total about 10,500, according to the government.
The announcement came a day after the government declared the 20-km
zone around the tsunami-stricken plant a no-go area. (Source: Japan
2011 9:50 (JST): US ambassador helps promote Fukushima
- The US Ambassador to Japan has bought a bottle of sake made in
Fukushima Prefecture in a show of support for people suffering from the
Ambassador John Roos shopped at a Fukushima product promotion center in
Tokyo on Thursday. The visit, which was his idea, is aimed at helping
farmers suffering from falls in sales due to shipping restrictions and
a general fear of radiation.
A prefectural official showed him several goods such as a tofu product,
and a brand of sake which won a top prize in a national competition
last year. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 8:36 (JST): More than 17,000 apply for unemployment
benefits in Miyagi - Job-placement offices in Miyagi
Prefecture received more than 17,000 applications for unemployment
benefits in the month following the March 11 strongest ever Japan
earthquake and tsunami,
marking a roughly threefold increase from the same period last year.
While the government has created around 20,000 jobs under its emergency
measures for the disaster, the number of applicants will reach several
tens of thousands when combined with those in Iwate and Fukushima
prefectures, which were also severely damaged by the disasters.
Applications from 17,643 people were accepted between March 16 and
April 20, of whom around 14,400, or 80%, were from the tsunami-hit
coastal cities, such as Ishinomaki and Kesennuma. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 0:50 (JST): Gov't to restrict growing of rice near
crippled nuclear plant - The government will restrict
farmers in areas near a crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima
Prefecture from growing rice amid radiation fears, farm minister
Michihiko Kano said Thursday.
The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry is also considering
tests on all farm animals within a planned evacuation zone for
radioactive substances, and allowing those to be confirmed safe to be
moved outside of the area.
The number of municipalities affected by the rice cropping restriction
plan, to be announced Friday, is expected to reach 12, including those
within the 20-kilometer radius of the crippled nuclear power plant, or
an off-limits area. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 22:37 (JST): Magnitude 6.0, Intensity 5- quake hits off
coast of Boso Peninsula in Chiba
- Wow, that one was BIG
and it was CLOSE!! As you can see, it was felt throughout the Tokyo
metropolitan area and cut a wide swath on Japan's main Honshu island.
My building shook for ONE whole minute. Scary stuff...
2011 22:10 (JST): Kan pledges state compensation for
Fukushima - Prime Minister Naoto Kan says his government
will take responsibility in compensating residents affected by the
troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Kan made the remark in his talks with Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato
during a visit to the prefecture on Thursday.
Governor Sato asked the prime minister and the Tokyo Electric Power
Company, or TEPCO, to bring the situation under control quickly so that
the local residents who have been forced to evacuate can return home.
2011 17:25 (JST): Seattle showers Japan orphanages with 100
tons of aid - When last month's earthquake cut off supply
lines to northeastern Japan, a local orphanage realized it would only
be able to feed its 65 children for four days before supplies ran out.
Tatsuya Goto, director of the Bikou-en Children's Care House, sent out
a call for help to folks who have volunteered at his organization for
more than 20 years: the U.S. Navy at Misawa.
That call would trigger a series of fortunate events -- spreading from
a small group of volunteers in Misawa to a popular call-in radio show
in Seattle -- culminating in the collection of more than 200,000 pounds
of food and supplies that soon will be heading to Japan.
2011 13:00 (JST): Miyagi Prefecture fishing industry
devastated by tsunami - The massive hulks of beached
fishing vessels that dot the landscape of tsunami-ravaged northern
Japan are too heavy even for the U.S. military to move back to the sea.
In Miyagi Prefecture, where U.S. forces have concentrated their
efforts, officials estimate 12,000 out of 13,000 registered fishing
vessels, all of the region's fish farms and its 142 ports were
destroyed or damaged by the March 11 tsunami. At least 440 fishermen
are listed as dead or missing, a figure that officials expect to rise.
2011 8:50 (JST): Gov't to set up no-entry zone near Fukushima
plant - Govt to set up no-entry zone near Fukushima plant
The government is to ban local residents from entering within
20-kilometers of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
from midnight Thursday.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan is to inform the governor of Fukushima
Prefecture of the new no-entry policy when he visits the prefecture on
The government asked residents within 20 kilometers of the plant to
evacuate after the March 11th earthquake. But some have been returning
home to recover belongings. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 6:05 (JST): Looking for Signs of Hope in Japan
- (Commentary by Alyce Wilson): Like millions of others, I have been
following the aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami with a mix of
hope and dread. As warnings increase about the severity of the nuclear
crisis at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant, I can't help
wondering how it might impact my friends and colleagues living,
working, and/or closely associated with Japan.
Since 2001, I have volunteered as a staff member for Otakon, one of the
largest conventions in North America celebrating Japanese and East
Asian popular culture. Through my experiences, especially several years
in Press Relations, I have worked with and befriended numerous people
with strong ties to Japan. Every time I hear, for example, that
Japanese officials are calling for stricter enforcement of the
evacuation zone around the power plant, I wonder how it might impact
those I know.
(Source: Yahoo News)
2011 1:25 (JST): TEPCO aiming to avoid power shortage in
summer - Tokyo Electric Power Co may be able to
avoid an anticipated shortage of electricity this summer as it will aim
to increase its maximum power supply capacity to around 55 million
kilowatts from the previously planned 52 million kilowatts.
In addition to restored capacity at some thermal power plants damaged
by the March 11 earthquake, the utility plans to make up for part of
the capacity lost at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power
plant by making greater use of pump-storage hydroelectric plants,
buying power from other companies and restarting idled facilities.
(Source: Japan Today)
2011 22:15 (JST): French company Areva to decontaminate
Daiichi water - French nuclear reactor maker Areva says it
has agreed with TEPCO to build a facility to decontaminate radioactive
water at the compound of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
CEO Anne Lauvergeon told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday that Areva --
one of the world's largest nuclear energy firms -- will build the
facility to remove radioactive substances from the contaminated water.
The facility is to use chemical agents to remove radioactive iodine and
cesium from contaminated water. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 19:20 (JST): Japanese exports fall 2.2% in March due to
tsunami - Japanese exports fell more than expected in
March, as damage from last month's strongest ever earthquake and
According to the finance ministry exports declined 2.2% from a year
earlier, the first drop in 16 months. Shipments of cars tumbled 28% as
the sector continued to be hit by shortfall of parts and slowdown in
2011 17:10 (JST): Nuclear plant workers at risk of
depression, death from overwork: doctor - TEPCO workers
engaged in efforts to stabilize the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear plant are at risk of depression or death from overwork, a
doctor who recently saw them said Wednesday.
The workers are not only undertaking dangerous work in severe
conditions, but also feel a sense of moral responsibility as employees
of the firm to blame for the nuclear disaster.
Some of them were also victims themselves of the March 11 quake and
tsunami that triggered the nuclear crisis, and faced with the deaths of
relatives or friends, the workers are exposed to multiple stresses.
(Source: Japan Today)
2011 15:55 (JST): Moment
A look back on the last month - At sea and
ashore, the men and women of the U.S. 7th Fleet observed a moment of
silence at 2:46 p.m. Japan Standard Time on April 11, marking one month
the devastating strongest ever earthquake and tsunami that struck
northern Japan. The
U.S. 7th Fleet flew over 160 search and relief sorties, flew 1,100
flight hours, delivered over 260 tons of Humanitarian Assistance
Disaster Relief (HADR) supplies, and helped in the clearance of three
Hachinohe, Miyako and Oshima/Kesennuma. Read the entire, remarkable
1-month report here.
2011 9:15 (JST): Wrecked cars removed from Sendai residential
area - The northeastern Japanese city of Sendai has
started removing wrecked vehicles from tsunami-hit residential areas.
Workers using a crane on Tuesday collected vehicles that were swept by
the tsunami to residential areas. The city is to launch a full-fledged
operation to remove debris from the areas on Friday.
The city had put notices on the vehicles so that owners who did not
want their cars removed could let authorities know. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 5:40 (JST): Beer fundraiser offers disaster-hit kids a
hand in education needs - About a month since the
Mar. 11 quake/tsunami, children remain in dire need, and that has
spurred Gary Bremermann to round up his friends and other networks to
organize a fundraiser where 100 yen from every bottle of beer sold
benefits disaster relief operations catering to the educational needs
of affected children in northeast Japan.
A party was held on April 10 marking the anniversary of the Beers for
Books initiative he began two years ago in Japan to help finance Room
to Read, which supports child literacy in developing countries, but the
twin disasters turned the Sunday affair into a charity event
specifically for the quake and tsunami victims. (Source: Japan
2011 2:15 (JST): Gov't may hike consumption tax to 8% for
reconstruction - The government is considering
raising the current 5% consumption tax to 8% for about three years to
raise money for reconstruction of the country's northeastern region
devastated by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
If realized, tax revenues will increase about 22.5 trillion yen and the
amount will cover much of the extra expenditures for reconstruction
expected in the current fiscal year.
The government has estimated that the damage from the natural
calamities that left around 28,000 people dead or missing could amount
to 25 trillion yen. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 21:10 (JST): Filipino, Indonesian nurses cancel Japan
- Nearly one-sixth of the Filipino and Indonesian nurse and caregiver
candidates scheduled to come to Japan have canceled their visits due to
concerns about the hazardous effects of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear power plant.
A total of 293 nurses and caregivers from the Philippines and Indonesia
were scheduled to come to Japan this fiscal year to apply for a
licensing program to work in Japan. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 18:20 (JST): USS George Washington to return to Yokosuka
on Wednesday - The USS George Washington is expected to
return to its home port Wednesday, one month after the ship left
Yokosuka amid radiation concerns stemming from the damaged Fukushima
Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
The crew will arrive at a much quieter place than they left, as the
roughly 4,500 family members and others who left the base in the
aftermath of the March 11 strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami
are just starting to
make their way back.
The ship left March 21 despite having all of its major systems in a
state of disassembly when the initial earthquake struck.
2011 12:54 (JST): Russia lifts advisory against travel to
Japan - Russia has lifted its advisory against travel to
Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday the advisory has been lifted
as studies conducted by Russian experts show no abnormal radiation
levels in Tokyo.
It also cited the announced schedule by Tokyo Electric Power Company
for bringing the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant under control.
April 19, 2011 9:55 (JST): U.K. robots venture inside
- UK defense technology firm QinetiQ has supplied a range of remote
controlled machines that will enable engineers to look around inside
the Fukushima nuclear plant. (8-image BBC slideshow)
2011 7:10 (JST): Amid losses, Japan determined to reopen
schools - The tsunami killed 74 of the 108 students at
Okawa Elementary School and all but one of the dozen teachers. The main
building is ripped open, with trees jammed into second-floor
classrooms, and the gym and playground have been reduced to muddied
All along Japan's battered northeastern coast, schools have been
heavily damaged or converted to shelters, and families are without
jobs, permanent homes or cars. But the country is determined to move
ahead with one of its rites of spring: the start of the school year in
April, even as some parents and children grieve. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 0:55 (JST): Kuwait to donate 5 mil barrels of oil, oil
products to Japan - The Kuwaiti government has decided to
donate 5 million barrels of crude oil and oil products to Japan, as
part of efforts to help the country recover from the catastrophic March
11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah
al-Ahmed al-Sabah, Kuwait's oil minister, unveiled the decision at a
meeting of Asian oil producers and consumers held in Kuwait City
earlier in the day.
The donation, equivalent to around $550 million, or some 45 billion
yen, surpasses Japan's daily crude oil imports of 4 million barrels.
(Source: Japan Today)
April 18, 2011 21:05 (JST):
Japanese dancers in NY give charity
performance - A group of Japanese dancers has given a
performance in New York to raise money for the reconstruction of
northeastern Japan areas hit by the March 11th quake and tsunami.
The performance was held at a theater in the city's Brooklyn district
on Saturday night.
More than 20 professional dancers from classical ballet to modern dance
took part. They included American Ballet Theatre soloist Yuriko Kajiya,
who gave a duo performance with her partner. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 19:27 (JST): Golden Week holiday travelers to fall 27%
due to quake - The number of travelers during Japan's
Golden Week holidays is expected to fall 27.6 percent from a year
earlier, the biggest year-on-year decline since 1990 when comparable
data became available, in the wake of the devastating March 11
earthquake, JTB Corp. said Monday.
The major travel agency said 16.09 million people are expected to set
out on overnight or longer trips between April 24 and May 4 -- 15.66
million domestic travelers, down 27.8 percent, and 431,000 overseas
travelers, down 16.6 percent -- marking the first year-on-year decline
in three years. (Source: Kyodo News)
2011 14:03 (JST): Fukushima school relocation -
School children from an evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear power plant have begun a new term at a school outside the zone.
The people of the Yamakiya district of Kawamata Town in Fukushima
Prefecture have been advised to evacuate within a month because their
annual radioactive exposure is expected to top the safety limit of 20
The district's public school has been temporarily closed, and all of
its students and teachers have been moved to a school 8 kilometers
away. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 11:37 (JST): Toyota resumes production at all domestic
plants - Toyota Motor has resumed production at all its
assembly plants in Japan.
Production resumed on Monday at 11 Toyota plants, including 2
affiliated companies in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures. Those are 2 of
the 3 prefectures in eastern Japan that were hardest-hit by the March
11th strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami.
The disaster damaged the factories of auto parts makers in the region,
and caused the suspension of production at almost all of Toyota's
domestic assembly plants. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 9:40 (JST): 31% walked home from central Tokyo after
quake - A survey has found that 30 percent of people
living in Tokyo and 3 neighboring prefectures had to walk home after
the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11.
Nippon Research Center surveyed 1,000 people aged 15 or above living in
Tokyo and neighboring Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama prefectures. They
examined how people responded to the emergency.
The survey found that 60.5 percent of people were at work or school
when the earthquake struck. With many railway lines in the Tokyo
metropolitan area not running in the hours after the quake, 31.4
percent of people say they had to walk home. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 7:15 (JST): Robot used to investigate reactor buildings
- Tokyo Electric Power Company has started
using a remote-controlled robot to investigate the reactor buildings at
the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
High levels of radiation have kept workers from approaching the
buildings of the first 3 reactors, which lost their cooling functions
in the March 11th strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami.
The utility started investigating the buildings using a US-made
remote-controlled robot on Sunday, starting with the No. 3 reactor
building. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 1:05 (JST): Gov't to decide whether evacuees can return
home after 6-9 months -
The government will decide whether people evacuated from areas around
the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant can return to their
homes after plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. settles the crisis
in six to nine months as it plans, industry minister Banri Kaieda said
Kaieda also told a press conference that the just-announced roadmap by
Tokyo Electric toward ending one of the world's worst nuclear crises is
''an important step forward'' and that the government urges the utility
to steadily and swiftly implement the roadmap. (Source: Kyodo News)
2011 23:40 (JST): Most quake/tsunami deaths were elderly
victims - Over half of those killed in three northeastern
Japanese prefectures by the catastrophic March 11 earthquake and
tsunami were aged 65 or older, while over 95 percent of deaths reported
in Miyagi Prefecture alone resulted from drowning under the tsunami,
fresh data showed Sunday.
Of the 9,112 killed in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima pefectures whose
ages are confirmed, 4,990, or 54.8 percent, were aged 65 or older,
according to the data Kyodo tallied based on a list of victims by the
National Police Agency.
Separate data compiled by the police in Miyagi Prefecture, meanwhile,
showed that out of 8,015 deaths confirmed through April 10 in the
prefecture, 95.8 percent or 7,676, resulted from drowning. (Source:
2011 17:50 (JST): Foreign firms to build temporary housing
- The Japanese government will allow foreign companies to build
temporary housing in order to speed up reconstruction efforts in
disaster-stricken northeastern Japan.
Local authorities in affected regions have asked for 72,000 temporary
houses to be built. However, so far construction is under way on only
The Land and Infrastructure Ministry decided to allow foreign companies
to build temporary housing as long as they meet certain conditions. One
is that they must have the capacity to build more than 100 units in 2
months. They are also required to meet Japanese standards for
electrical voltage and wall plugs, and must form joint partnerships
with Japanese construction companies for maintenance work. (Source:
2011 13:30 (JST): Japanese driver films tsunami wave from
inside his car in
Asahi, Chiba - Chiba was the southern-most of the more
than 10 prefectures impacted by the Mar. 11 quake and tsunami. Although
Chiba suffered less damage than the Tohoku region, its coast, dotted
with ports and beaches, had not taken a hard tsunami hit in 308 years
and was little prepared. The biggest tsunami - the third generated by
the quake - struck the area 2 1/2 hours later because of the distance
it had to travel. The tsunami topped 2 meters, according to the Choshi
Local Meteorological Observatory.
Asahi, which is only about 55 miles (85 kilometers) east of Tokyo, is
still in recovery mode, having suffered 13 confirmed deaths and two
missing. The waves damaged 2,265 buildings, including 427 that were
destroyed, and left 716 people homeless. Shelters are still housing 322
people. Utility poles (right) boasted tsunami warnings posted long ago,
locals say they never took them seriously. Emperor Akihito and Empress
Michiko on Thursday visited Asahi, in their first trip to an area badly
hit by the March 11 strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami, to
console local people.
They are scheduled to visit other areas between now and May, including
Ibaraki Prefecture and the three hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate,
Miyagi and Fukushima. More...
2011 8:50 (JST): Vietnam cherry festival raises funds for
- Visitors to an annual cherry blossom festival in Hanoi, Vietnam, have
offered support and made donations for people in eastern Japan who are
struggling after the devastating March 11th strongest ever Japan
earthquake and tsunami.
The 2-day event is held every April to introduce Japanese culture to
the people of Vietnam.
The garden of an international exhibition center has been decorated
with 300 cherry tree branches flown in from Japan. Many visitors were
seen taking photos of the blossoms. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 2:01 (JST): U.S. offers unmanned chopper to help remove
Fukushima spent fuel -
The U.S. government has told Japan that it can use a U.S. unmanned
cargo transport helicopter to set up cranes to remove spent fuel rods
from storage pools at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant,
Japanese and U.S. sources close to the matter said Saturday.
The K-MAX helicopter, developed jointly by Lockheed Martin Corp. and
KAMAN Aerospace Group of the United States, is being considered to set
up the huge cranes. (Source: Kyodo News)
2011 0:55 (JST): Volunteers clean photos found in debris -
In one of the towns struck by the March 11th tsunami, volunteers have
cleaned photographs found in the debris in the hope of returning them
to their owners.
A Tokyo-based volunteer group has been collecting recovered photos and
photo albums at an evacuation center in Otsuchi Town in Iwate
Prefecture. Many of the pictures are of children or were taken
The volunteers removed dirt with brushes and towels, and soaked those
stuck together by sea water in fresh water to separate them. (Source:
2011 20:35 (JST): Fish caught off Ibaraki trade at normal
- The first catches of fish in nearly 2 weeks off Ibaraki Prefecture
have been shipped to Tokyo's Tsukiji market. Fishing in the area had
been suspended due to the detection of a radioactive substance
exceeding the legal limit.
Four kinds of fish were shipped to the market on Saturday morning in 40
boxes that had a note attached attesting that they do not contain
radioactive substances exceeding the limit.
The Tokyo metropolitan government says all the shipped fish from
Ibaraki Prefecture traded at almost normal prices. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 13:25 (JST): 531,000 foreigners left Japan after quake
- A total of 531,000 foreigners left Japan in the four weeks from March
12 to April 8, including 244,000 in the first week after the March 11
strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami, the Justice Ministry said
The total included 185,000 Chinese, 107,000 South Koreans and 39,000
Of the foreigners who left Japan during the four weeks, 302,000, or
almost 57 percent, obtained reentry permits. (Source: Mainichi Daily
2011 10:15 (JST): Quake victims' mental health can't be
forgotten - Children play with members of an Israeli
volunteer group, who have been visiting northeastern Japan for mental
health care for the March 11 strongest ever Japan earthquake and
tsunami survivors, outside
an evacuation center in the town of Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture, on
April 14, 2011. (Source: Kyodo News)
2011 4:25 (JST): Gov't eyeing relaxation of power-saving
goals for summer -
The government is considering relaxing power-saving goals for this
summer after Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it will likely be able to
increase supply more than its earlier prediction. TEPCO said it is
expected to supply up to 52 million kilowatts of electricity by the end
of July, revising upward from a previously forecast maximum of 46.5
The company told the government that it will likely be able to
increase power supply by at least 5 million kw this summer by using
thermal and pumped-storage hydroelectric plants. (Source: Kyodo News)
2011 2:10 (JST): TEPCO to compensate Japan's nuclear plant
victims - The Japanese government has ordered the
operator of the nuclear plant damaged by last month's quake and tsunami
to pay compensation to affected families.
About 48,000 families who lived within 30km (18 miles) of the Fukushima
Daiichi plant will be eligible.
The compensation is described as provisional, with payouts - expected
to be 1 million yen ($12,000) per family - beginning on 28
Plant operator Tepco is still trying to stabilise the nuclear facility.
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