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Home: Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: News updates for May 7-13, 2011

Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake
and Tsunami
News updates for May 7-13, 2011

This page is a continuation of my main Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami page, reflecting May 7-13, 2011 news updates for the 9th 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 family members.

News Updates for 9th Week after Japan Earthquake and Tsunami -- May 7-13, 2011 (JST=UT+9 hrs., or CDT+14 hrs., e.g. 8 am in Houston = 10 pm in Tokyo):

May 13, 2011 20:20 (JST):  How one Japanese village defied the tsunami - Fudai, Iwate is a village that survived -- thanks to a huge wall once deemed a mayor's expensive folly and now vindicated as the community's salvation. The 3,000 residents living between mountains behind a cove owe their lives to a late leader who saw the devastation of an earlier tsunami and made it the priority of his four-decade tenure to defend his people from the next one. His 51-foot (15.5-meter) floodgate between mountainsides took a dozen years to build and meant spending more than $30 million in today's dollars. (Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Fudai, Iwate floodgate
The 15.5 meter (51-foot)-high gate, which was criticized as being a wasteful public works project in the 1970's, protected the town when it was hit by the 20-meter-high tsunami on March 11, 2011. (Photo: Hiro Komae/AP)

May 13, 2011 15:35 (JST):  Thousands of animals to be culled in Fukushima no-go zone
- Farmers in Fukushima, northeast Japan, were forced to abandon entire herds of livestock when a 12-mile evacuation zone around the nuclear power plant was imposed after the March 11 tsunami and earthquake. The exodus of farmers from the no-go zone resulted in the abandonment of thousands of animals, with an estimated 3,400 cows, 31,500 pigs, and 630,000 chickens reported in the area before the crisis. The government has now confirmed that the prefecture will be asked to slaughter farm animals within the evacuation zone due to difficulties in feeding those which have survived abandonment. More...

May 13, 2011 10:50 (JST):  Fukushima No. 1 reactor is in a "meltdown" state
- TEPCO says the No.1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is believed to be in a state of "meltdown." The utility company said on Thursday that most of the fuel rods are likely to have melted and fallen to the bottom of the reactor. Earlier in the day, it found that the coolant water in the reactor is at a level which would completely expose nuclear fuel rods if they were in their normal position. The company believes the melted fuel has cooled down, judging from the reactor's surface temperature. But it suspects the meltdown created a hole or holes in the bottom of the reactor causing water to leak into the containment vessel. (Source:

Fukushima No. 1 reactor is in a "meltdown" state

May 13, 2011 7:05 (JST):  Peace Cranes soar above Japan
- Throughout April and May St. Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne has made available a 'Book of 10,000 Cranes' in Swanston Street for passers-by to write prayers and messages of love and support to the people of Japan following the Mar. 11 earthquake and tsunami. Mrs. Suuzannah Tegner, who suggested the idea for the Book of 10,000 Cranes, said that 10,000 Cranes represented a 10-fold blessing, and that she will take the Cranes and the Book to Japan, once all the Cranes -- which are being made by schools and members of the public, including people of other faiths and Japanese living in Melbourne -- have been received. More...

Peace Cranes soar above Japan

May 12, 2011 10:05 (JST):  3rd-grade CA girls raise $10,800 for Japan earthquake victims
- Third-graders Anahid Ounigian and Ana Sofia Vildosola have a reputation for being compassionate girls. Their teacher says they're also articulate and organized, so it wasn't a big surprise when the girls wanted to organize a fundraiser to help the victims of the March earthquake in Japan. Both girls are 9 and in Sera Ursich's class at St. John's Episcopal Parish Day School in Chula Vista, California. The girls raised nearly $10,800, which they decided to give to the American Red Cross, partly because Ana Sofia mentioned feeling that the organization would be honest and she knew the money would actually get to Japan. "I'm very proud of what we did. We got a lot of money, and that's like a blessing to help Japan," said Ana Sofia. More...

Anahid Ounigian and Ana Sofia Vildosola, with their teacher, Sera Ursich
Anahid Ounigian (left) and Ana Sofia Vildosola,
with their teacher, Sera Ursich (center)

May 12, 2011 13:35 (JST):  Thai tourists return to Japan
- A Thai tour group is on its way to Japan, the first such visit from Thailand since the March 11th disaster. An association of Thai travel agencies came up with the idea for the tour titled "Japan, Our Best Friend." It includes officials from travel companies and the media. During the 5-day trip, the 160-member group will visit Mount Fuji, the Hakone hot spring resort, and Tokyo Disneyland. One travel agency official said he wants to confirm for himself just how safe Japan's tourist spots are. (Source:

Thai tourists return to Japan

May 12, 2011 5:40 (JST):  80% of survivors feel mental and physical strains - An NHK survey shows that nearly 80 percent of the survivors of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami are suffering sleeplessness, tiredness or other forms of mental or physical disorders. NHK interviewed 435 people, aged 17 to 88, in the hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Asked about their mental and physical conditions after the disaster, 77 percent of respondents said they are having some kind of difficulty. (Source:

80% of survivors feel mental and physical strains

May 12, 2011 0:15 (JST):  Services observed 2 months after quake and tsunami
- On Wednesday, exactly 2 months after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami hit eastern Japan, people across the affected region held a moment of silence for the victims. In Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, about 500 junior high school students and evacuees sheltering at a school gym offered silent prayers at 2:46 PM, the time the quake occurred. They then held a service with candles in the schoolyard overlooking the sea where gigantic waves had rushed in and swept the entire town away. (Source:

May 11, 2011 21:05 (JST):  Triumph unveils 'Support Japan Bra' printed with worldwide messages
- Major lingerie maker Triumph International Japan Ltd said Wednesday it has created special underwear featuring messages of encouragement sent from its group companies around the world to lift the spirits of disaster-stricken Japan. The lingerie consisting of a strapless bustier and a matching skirt is called the "Support Japan Bra" and was created as part of this year's unique concept bra series, which the company releases biannually to reflect social trends of the time. The company collected handwritten messages from 54 employees at its offices in 36 countries and regions, including Russia, China, France and Turkey, along with relief goods for the areas devastated by the catastrophic March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami. (Source: Japan Today)

Triumph's new Support Japan Bra
Triumph's new "Support Japan Bra" (Sankei)

May 11, 2011 14:25 (JST):  Japanese thank Americans in US newspaper
- A group of Japanese has run a message in a Washington newspaper expressing gratitude to Americans for their support after the March 11th disaster. Tuesday's edition of the Washington Times carried a full-page message with one simple word, "Arigato," meaning thank you and a sketched image of a handshake. The message says, "Thank you, America...for the sweat and tears your service men and women are shedding to help Japanese survive the disaster. You are our true friend." (Source:

Japanese thank Americans in US newspaper

May 11, 2011 9:45 (JST):  English teachers return to Fukushima
- English language teachers are on their way back to Japan from their homes in the United States to teach again in disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture. 8 American teachers in their early 20s departed from airports in New York and Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday to teach English at kindergartens and public junior high schools in Tamura City. Part of the city lies within 20 kilometers of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and is designated a no-go zone. (Source:

English teachers return to Fukushima

May 11, 2011 7:05 (JST):  Despite assurances, U.S. not accepting produce from some northern Japan prefectures
- Despite assurances from Japanese officials, U.S. military bases are still not accepting produce from a dozen prefectures near the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station because of radiation fears. But Noriyuki Shikata, Japan's deputy cabinet secretary for public relations, said Tuesday that local food is safe despite concerns over radiation released by the damaged power plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. "U.S. forces in Japan can live as all Japanese do," Shikata said during a briefing on the issue at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. "All the food distributed in this country, when you go to the supermarket, is safe." More...

May 10, 2011 20:55 (JST):  Aerial fallout map confirms soil radiation levels
- Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission says a new aerial map of radioactive fallout contamination has confirmed the radiation levels in the area near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The commission's chairman, Haruki Madarame, told reporters on Monday that the map will reinforce the agency's system to monitor contamination and will help find ways to lower radiation levels. The Japanese Science Ministry and the US Energy Department conducted a joint aerial survey from April 6th to the 29th of the area within an 80-kilometer radius of the plant. (Source:

Japan NSC aerial fallout map

May 10, 2011 13:55 (JST):  Japan's Prime Minister to give up salary
- Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday that he will give up his salary until the nuclear crisis in the country is over. He also said he would review the country's energy policy and consider other energy sources like wind and solar power. Kan said he would give up his prime minister salary which is 1,636,000 yen a month ($20,200 a month), but he would still receive his lawmaker's salary. The prime minister's announcement comes the same day that about 100 residents, who had been evacuated from an area close to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, were allowed to returned home Tuesday for a short visit to gather belongings. More...

May 10, 2011 6:45 (JST):  Justin Bieber Is "Definitely" Touring Post-Earthquake Japan
- Despite reports to the contrary, Justin Bieber will be keeping his tour dates in Japan. The 17-year-old pop star, who is scheduled to perform in Tokyo and Osaka later this month, took to Twitter to shoot down rumors that his crew was refusing to accompany him to the earthquake-and-radiation-plagued island nation. TMZ reported last week that Bieber's manager Scooter Braun had an argument with the tour crew over whether it was safe to visit Japan. However, according to radiation experts consulted by E! Online, there's nothing to fear in Japan's major cities: The radiation levels are back to normal after a March spike, and food is being monitored carefully. More...

Justin Bieber
(The Image Gate/Getty Images)

May 10, 2011 1:25 (JST):  Quake to Spur Biggest Japan Home Boom in 15 Years
- Sekisui House Ltd., Japan's second-largest home builder, will focus on the local market after expanding overseas as it expects the nation's biggest housing boom in at least 15 years after the March 11 earthquake. Housing starts, which dipped below 1 million units in 2009 and 2010 for the first time in four decades, may rebound as homeowners rebuild after the nation's strongest temblor, said the chairman of the Osaka-based company. "We had to expand overseas because signs of a slowdown in Japan's housing demand were alarming. Unexpectedly, the earthquake struck. I now anticipate annual housing demand to reach the 1 million-unit level again due to revival efforts and reconstruction demand." More...

May 9, 2011 21:05 (JST):  Depp sends message to Japan at 'Pirates' world premiere
- The latest installment in the popular "Pirates of the Caribbean" series premiered at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, on Saturday night with a message of support for Japan. Around 22,000 people gathered to meet the stars. Former Japanese soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata, 34, and comedian Takaaki Ishibashi, 49, were in attendance and gave the movie rave reviews. A banner expressing support for Japan was hung prominently at the star-studded event, which Ishibashi and Cruz both wrote messages on to express their condolences and support. The banner will travel with the movie as it makes its way around the world before being delivered to the Japanese premiere in Tokyo on May 17. (Source: Japan Today)

Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp
Penelope Cruz, left, and Johnny Depp arrive at the World Premiere
of "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" at Disneyland
in Anaheim, Calif, on Saturday. (AP)

May 9, 2011 16:15 (JST):  Quake shifted Japan; towns now flood at high tide
- When water begins to trickle down the streets of her Ishinomaki neighborhood, Yoshiko Takahashi knows it is time to hurry home. Twice a day, the flow steadily increases until it is knee-deep, carrying fish and debris by her front door and trapping people in their homes. Those still on the streets slosh through the sea water in rubber boots or on bicycle. The March 11 earthquake that hit eastern Japan was so powerful it pulled the entire country out and down into the sea. The mostly devastated coastal communities now face regular flooding, because of their lower elevation and damage to sea walls from the massive tsunamis triggered by the quake. More...

Ishinomaki high tide flooding
Residents stroll in a flooded street in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. The area in this part of the city sunk nearly 2 feet 7 inches following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (Junji Kurokawa/AP)

May 9, 2011 9:50 (JST):  'Do not cry': a nurse's blog brings comfort to Japan's tsunami survivors
- When aid workers arrived after the Mar. 11 tsunami, they were greeted by scenes of devastation that would not look out of place in a war zone. But this tragedy was being played out in one of the world's wealthiest countries, fewer than 200 miles from the neon-lit opulence of its capital, Tokyo. One of them, a nurse who was part of an emergency medical team dispatched from Tokyo, has written about her experiences in a blog that offers one of the most detailed accounts yet of the tsunami's toll on the tens of thousands who survived. Thanks to an anonymous translator, every word of her online journal is available in English. More...

messages at Rikuzentakata tsunami relief center
A tsunami survivor is overcome before messages at a relief centre,
Rikuzentakata, 22 March. (Photograph: Philippe Lopez)

May 9, 2011 7:10 (JST):  Quake-hit Miyagi residents wish to rebuild homes in scenic Matsushima area
- Residents of the picturesque Matsushima area in Miyagi Prefecture, whose homes were swept away by the March 11 quake-induced tsunami, will likely be allowed to rebuild their homes in the otherwise restricted area to preserve the landscape. In Matsushima, known for one of Japan's most beautiful coastal sceneries with around 230 pine-clad islets, construction of new buildings is forbidden in some areas and an approval is required from the head of the Cultural Affairs Agency to make changes under the Cultural Assets Preservation Law. But many residents of the area straddling two cities and three towns, where numerous people died or remain missing in the disaster, want to build their new homes upland nearby, particularly older people. (Source: Japan Today)

May 9, 2011 1:40 (JST):  Job seeker says ending up at nuclear plant not mentioned in ad
- A man who applied for the job of driver in Miyagi Prefecture has filed a complaint with a job placement center in Osaka's Airin day-laborer district, saying he was made to work at the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture. The agent who placed the ad through the Nishinari labor welfare center has admitted to the center that the man worked in the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station that was smashed up by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The labor ministry's Osaka district bureau has also started investigating the case. (Source: Japan Today)

May 8, 2011 20:45 (JST):  White carnations laid in tsunami-hit Iwate towns on Mother's Day
- In the tsunami-hit region of Japan, people laid white carnations for their lost ones on Mother's Day. Many people visited a flower shop operating in a tent in the devastated town of Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, to buy carnations on Sunday. The shop stocked more white carnations this year than usual, along with red and pink ones, for customers who lost their mothers in the disaster. (Source:

White carnations laid in tsunami-hit Iwate towns on Mother's Day

May 8, 2011 15:55 (JST):  Japanese pastor wants to avoid quake area being overrun by visitors
- A Japanese church district leader has said that he wants to avoid a "tsunami of people," many of whom are well-intentioned volunteers, who want to visit the northeastern area devastated by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. "I would like to express my gratitude to those who bother to come to the affected areas," said the Rev Muneo Ohara, moderator of Ou District of the United Church of Christ in Japan, the country's largest Protestant denomination. However, he added, clergy and congregations are being overwhelmed by volunteers. He said, "the earthquake occurred, and the tsunami came. We could escape from the tsunami. We were saved. But after that, a tsunami of people surged. We cannot escape from it." More...

May 8, 2011 10:55 (JST):  Crown Prince and Princess visit evacuee shelter - Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako have visited a shelter where evacuees from Hirono town in Fukushima Prefecture are staying. It is their second visit to meet the survivors of the March 11th disaster. The couple visited a civic center in Misato City in Saitama Prefecture on Saturday afternoon. More than 200 people are living in the shelter after fleeing from hometowns destroyed by the tsunami or that are in the vicinity of the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (Source:

Crown Prince and Princess visit evacuee shelter

May 8, 2011 5:20 (JST):  Yakusho hopes new film will make people laugh again after March 11 disaster
- Director Shuichi Okita currently has his hands full as he directs the comedy pairing of veteran actor Koji Yakusho ("Babel," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Shall We Dance?") with young star Shun Oguri ("Surely Someday," "Snakes and Earrings"). The film, which has a working title of "Kitsutsuki to Ame" (The Woodpecker and The Rain), has Yakusho as a 60-year-old lumberjack who takes a young apprentice, played by Oguri, under his wing. The cast is rounded out by Kengo Kora, Asami Usuda and another old pro, Masato Ibu. (Source: Japan Today)

veteran actor Koji Yakusho
Veteran actor Koji Yakusho

May 7, 2011 20:55 (JST):  Strength and Beauty

Miss Japan Marie Yanaka
Miss Japan Marie Yanaka and other beauty queens help parents and children trying to move a 90-metric-ton Airbus A300-600R at a charity event at Haneda Airport on May 5, 2011, to support victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The event, "Egao da! Genki da! GO GO Haneda" (Smile! Be happy! Go, go, Haneda!), was organized by the Japan Airport Terminal Co., and about 200 people from both in and outside the disaster zone took part. (Source: The Mainichi)

May 7, 2011 18:10 (JST):  After Disaster Hit Japan, Electric Cars Stepped Up
- With deep-tread tires and ample ground clearance, a rugged 4-wheel-drive Hummer or Jeep might seem the best choice for navigating through the wrecked cities of northeastern Japan. The areas pummeled by the earthquake and tsunami in March would surely be inhospitable for an electric vehicle. Yet in the days and weeks after the horrific one-two punch of natural disasters, wispy battery-electric cars--engineered for lightness and equipped with tires designed for minimal rolling resistance--proved their mettle. These welterweight sedans, including models from Mitsubishi and Nissan, turned out to be the vehicles that got through -- not because of any special ability to claw their way over mountains of debris, but because they were able to "refuel" at common electrical outlets. More...

Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car in Tohoku
One of 89 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars at work
in the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan.

May 7, 2011 15:25 (JST):  U.S. base residents in Japan: Conserve energy or face blackouts
- Residents at U.S. military bases in Japan need to change their electricity habits or risk facing blackouts this summer as the Japanese power grid becomes overtaxed, base energy managers warn. Because of the damage to power plants as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunamis, the country could see a 10 to 30 percent energy deficit starting in June, as temperatures rise and people feel the need to use air conditioning, officials said. The average temperature in Tokyo for June is roughly 77 degrees, climbing to 83 degrees with 80 percent humidity in July. More...

May 7, 2011 10:05 (JST):  Chubu Electric plans to suspend Hamaoka nuclear power plant
- Chubu Electric Power Co. plans to suspend all reactors at its Hamaoka nuclear plant in central Japan following Prime Minister Naoto Kan's request to do so for safety reasons. The Hamaoka nuclear power plant is located above the projected focus of a magnitude-8-class earthquake that could strike Shizuoka Prefecture. Seismologists have long been warning that the likely Tokai earthquake could occur any time. They say massive earthquakes have hit the region every 100 to 150 years, but no major quake has occurred there since the one that struck in the 19th century. (Source:

PM Kan wants Hamaoka plant shut down

May 7, 2011 5:05 (JST):  Used car prices rising amid soaring demand in disaster-hit areas
- Prices of used cars are rising as demand is soaring in areas ravaged by the March 11 strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami amid a shortage of trade-in vehicles resulting from weak new car sales. According to Used Car magazine, successful bids at auctions involving dealerships of secondhand vehicles, which greatly affect retail prices, averaged around 511,000 yen in March, up about 23,000 yen, or around 5%, from a year earlier. While data on auctions in April will become available in mid-May, successful bids showed upward trends at major auctions, industry officials said. (Source: Japan Today)

May 7, 2011 2:20 (JST):  Taiwan donations to Japan for quake relief near NT$6 billion
- President Ma Ying-jeou said Friday that funds raised by Taiwan's people to help victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan may have exceeded NT$5.8 billion (US$202 million) as of Friday. Ma made the remark during a meeting with Yuriko Koike, a member of Japan's House of Representatives. Koike came to Taiwan on behalf of the Liberal Democratic Party to thank Taiwan for its assistance following the quake. In addition to funds raised by the Taiwanese government and organizations such as the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China, the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, and World Vision Taiwan, Ma said Taiwan has also donated over 500 tons of relief supplies to Japan. More...

Eighth week updates continued here: Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, News updates for April 30-May 6, 2011

More Japan quake/tsunami news updates...
News updates for Mar. 19-25, 2011 (2nd week)
News updates for Mar. 12-18, 2011 (original page - 1st week 
after Mar. 11, 2011 quake)  

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Click for Tokyo, Japan Forecast
Click for Tokyo, Japan Forecast

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake -- All revenue from the purchase of "Quakebook" will be used to help the earthquake victims through the American Red Cross.


Star-studded album benefits Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami relief. The artists, music labels, and music publishers have waived their royalties and proceeds to ensure that the Japanese Red Cross receives as much support as possible from this initiative.

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