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Home: Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: News updates for April 30-May 6, 2011

Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake
and Tsunami
News updates for April 30-May 6, 2011

This page is a continuation of my main Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami page, reflecting April 30-May 6, 2011 news updates for the 8th 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 8th Week after Japan Earthquake and Tsunami -- April 30-May 6, 2011 (JST=UT+9 hrs., or CDT+14 hrs., e.g. 8 am in Houston = 10 pm in Tokyo):

May 6, 2011 20:05 (JST):  New subway station monitor shows TEPCO electricity demand/supply - A recently installed monitor in a Tokyo subway station shows the real-time hourly electricity demand as a percentage of the available supply that TEPCO is capable of providing. In the 12-1 pm hour on May 6, TEPCO customers were using 30.3 gigawatts, which was 83% of the maximum 36.5-gigawatt capacity TEPCO could supply. (Demand/supply graph)

TEPCO electricity demand vs. supply subway station monitor

May 6, 2011 14:40 (JST):  132 children left without both parents after quake and tsunami
- The number of children in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures whose parents died or remain missing in the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake had reached 132 as of May 4. Children under the age of 18 who lost both their parents or are still unable to locate their parents in Yamada and other municipalities in Iwate Prefecture numbered 57, while an identical number of children were without both parents in Onagawa, Higashimatsushima, and other municipalities in Miyagi Prefecture. (Source: Mainichi Daily News)

132 children left without both parents after quake and tsunami
Students solicit contributions in front of JR Yurakucho Station in Tokyo on April 15 for children who lost both parents in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (Mainichi)

May 6, 2011 10:20 (JST):  Superheroes Cheer Children In Japan's Tsunami Zone
- The battle between the buggy-eyed blue superhero and the evil sea monster and his ninja henchmen was a brief but refreshing return to normalcy for children in this Japanese coastal city. Nearly two months after their lives were roiled by a massive tsunami, the boys and girls of Ishinomaki--many who still live in shelters or half-ruined homes surrounded by debris--were treated to the stage show as part of Children's Day celebrations. (Source: NPR)

Superheroes Cheer Children In Japan's Tsunami Zone
A clown entertains children outside the Ishinomori Shotaro Manga Museum during a Children's Day event in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday, May 5, 2011. (AP photo)

May 6, 2011 7:15 (JST):  Quake-hit areas stuck with massive amounts of unwanted donated items
- Local government officials in the disaster-stricken Tohoku areas are struggling to deal with the excessive amount of donated items, many of which are stockpiled in school gymnasiums and other temporary storage facilities. Many items, such as winter clothes, blankets and heaters, are no longer needed, but donations are still coming in. On Wednesday, authorities in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, decided to organize bazaars to sell some of the excess items and donate others to different charities in an attempt to ease the backlog. Out of approximately 10,000 boxes of donated goods, about a third are not needed, including around 8,000 children's knapsacks, officials said. (Source: Japan Today)

May 5, 2011 21:00 (JST):  Amway Malaysia collects RM60,000 in aid of Japan earthquake-tsunami survivors
- Distributors and employees of leading direct-selling company Amway (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Amway) gave generously in response to the company's donation drive in aid of the Japan earthquake-tsunami survivors. The collective contribution from Amway distributors, employees and the company amounted to RM60,000 (~$20,000). Paul Yee, general manager of Amway, handed the donation to Malaysian Red Crescent (MRC) chairman for Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur Branch Datuk Dr Noordin Ab Razak at their national headquarters in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur recently. More...

Amway collects RM60,000 in aid of Japan
Yee (left) handing over the cheque to
Dr Noordin at MRC national headquarters.

May 5, 2011 14:35 (JST):  TEPCO president visits Fukushima
- The president of Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has again apologized to communities affected by the emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Masataka Shimizu visited officials in Hirono in Fukushima Prefecture on Wednesday. The town has set up a disaster relief headquarters in neighboring Iwaki city. Shimizu apologized to Hirono Mayor Motohoshi Yamada. Shimizu promised to bring the situation at Fukushima Daiichi under control as soon as possible so people can go home. (Source:

TEPCO president visits Fukushima

May 5, 2011 5:55 (JST):  Children's Day Message
- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a statement on Japan's Children's Day in Washington on May 3, noting that people throughout the United States have been working with their communities and schools to donate money and food, send care packages and letters, and encourage children in the affected areas as they rebuild your lives. Separately, in advance of Children's Day (May 5), the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo delivered to the government of Japan a package of cards which second-graders at a public school in Santa Fe, New Mexico made to console victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and sent to the Embassy. (Source: U.S. Embassy Japan)

Children's Day cards
Children's Day card

May 5, 2011 2:55 (JST):  Money not reaching victims of Japan earthquake
- Only a tiny fraction of the money donated to help survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake has made it into the hands of disaster victims nearly two months since the devastation of March 11. The Japanese Red Cross Society and other entities have sent about 58 billion yen (about $715 million). But less than 10 per cent of this amount has actually reached disaster victims, according to investigations by The Yomiuri Shimbun. The standstill has been attributed to lack of staff at local governments as well as difficulty in identifying recipients and informing them the donations are available. (Source: The Vancouver Sun)

Yamada fishing boats
Fishing boats lie amongst tsunami devastation in the town of Yamada, Iwate Prefecture on May 4, 2011, nearly two months after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan.
(Image credit: Toshifumi Kitamura, AFP/Getty Images)

May 4, 2011 20:45 (JST):  Tsunami In Japan Has Affected Over 60,000 Thai Workers
- The tsunami in Japan has affected over 60,000 Thai workers as some 60 local plants has reduced the production due to insufficient raw materials. The situation has affected 60,704 employees in five Thai provinces comprising 11,441 employees at 16 plants in Ayutthaya province, 17,605 employees at seven plants in Samut Prakan, 7,287 employees at four plants in Chon Buri, 4,500 employees at three plants in Chachoengsao and 2,670 employees at three plants in Pathum Thani. (Source:

May 4, 2011 16:20 (JST):  "Songs for Japan" charity album raises $5 million
- A charity album featuring hits from the likes of Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan and Madonna has raised $5 million for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the record labels involved said on Wednesday. The album "Songs For Japan," a collaboration between the world's biggest record companies, was released a month ago and has been on sale in digital format and as a two-disc CD set. It was available from March 25 on iTunes and from April 4 as a CD. Songs For Japan featured 38 hits and classic songs, including "Imagine" by John Lennon, "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" by Elton John, and "Pray" by Justin Bieber. (Source: Reuters)

Hueytown, Alabama tornadoThe US flag flies amid debris in the devastated town of Hueytown, Alabama (AFP)
May 4, 2011 9:30 (JST): After quake, Japan helps tornado-hit US (AFP) - Japan said Tuesday that it would deliver blankets to victims of tornadoes that swept through the US South, repaying some of the gratitude for US help following its own earthquake and tsunami. Japan will offer 10 million yen (125,000 dollars) worth of blankets and plastic sheets for people left destitute after last week's tornadoes that killed some 350 people, a Japanese embassy official said. In a statement, Japan's foreign ministry said that visiting official Chiaki Takahashi offered the assistance to US Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg "who expressed his appreciation." (Source: Japanese Embassy, Washington, D.C.)

May 4, 2011 4:32 (JST):  Clinton encourages Japanese children in quake-hit areas - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encouraged Japanese children who were affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in a message released Tuesday ahead of Children's Day on Thursday in Japan. "I want all the people of Japan--especially children--to know that you are not alone in this trying time," Clinton said in the message. "We are committed to creating a brighter future filled with opportunity and prosper for the children of Japan and for all children around the world," she said. (Source: Japan Today)

May 3, 2011 21:05 (JST):  Carp streamers flown at shelter in Kesennuma
- More than 220 carp streamers bearing messages of encouragement are on display at an evacuation center in one of the areas worst-hit by the March 11th disaster. The streamers were designed by Masae Hatakeyama, who used to live in the coastal city of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture. They were flown on Tuesday over a junior high school in the city where more than 270 people are taking shelter. Carp streamers are traditionally displayed in Japan around Children's Day on May 5th to pray for the healthy growth of children -- just like carp in the rivers. (Source:

Carp streamers flown at shelter in Kesennuma

May 3, 2011 16:06 (JST):  Radiation forecast data released
- The Japanese government has released data projecting the spread of radioactive substances from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The science ministry uses a computer system called SPEEDI to predict how radiation will spread depending on weather and geographical conditions. On Tuesday, the government released about 5,000 bits of data showing hourly predictions from March 11th. The information appears on the websites of the Nuclear Safety Commission and other entities. (Source:

Radiation forecast data released

Hamayuri sightseeing boatThe Hamayuri, a catamaran sightseeing boat, sits atop a two-story inn in Otsuchi town. (AFP/GETTY)
May 3, 2011 6:45 (JST): Boat swept 1300 ft inland to become symbol of tsunami - A 100-ton boat which landed on the roof of an inn after being swept inland 1300 ft. during Japan's tsunami is to be left there as a memorial for the disaster, under plans being considered by the government. The Hamayuri, a 109-ton vessel used to conduct sightseeing cruises in Kamaishi Bay, Iwate prefecture, was swept to its current position after being caught in the Japanese tsunami. Government officials are currently discussing the possibility of keeping the boat in place as an enduring symbol of the tsunami and its devastation in the region, according to local news reports. More...

May 3, 2011 5:05 (JST):  U.S. Engineering Programs React to Japan Nuclear Crisis
- Researchers at schools in the United States are working on technologies that will ensure a more effective response--one that is less dangerous to those tasked with cleaning up the mess. George Xu, professor of nuclear engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y., for instance, has applied a virtual reality technology he's been developing for many years to the Fukushima crisis. He and a team of eight students--seven graduate, one undergraduate--in his radiation safety course have reconstructed the troubled reactors in a virtual setting. Using the students' research, radiation levels in specific areas of the plant at any given time throughout the ordeal have been calculated and simulated. More...

May 3, 2011 0:35 (JST):  Japan new vehicle sales fall by record 51% in April
- Japan's domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses logged their biggest-ever drop in April, an industry group said Monday as the March quake and tsunami hit production and supplies to dealers. The sales came to 108,824 units in April, down 51 percent from a year earlier, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said. The drop, far steeper than a 37 percent fall in March, was the biggest since the data began being recorded in 1968. The previous record fall was 45.1 percent in May 1974 when Japan was reeling from the oil crisis. More...

Rikuzentakata boy w/ backpackAn 11-year-old boy shows his school backpack in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture. His teacher found the backpack in the rubble of their tsunami-ravaged elementary school two weeks after the disaster, which claimed the lives of the boy's grandfather and great grandmother. (Mainichi)
May 2, 2011 21:50 (JST): Treasures among the rubble - The Mainichi Daily News has compiled photographs of quake & tsunami victims showing items they now treasure following the disaster. (Source: The Mainichi)

May 2, 2011 18:35 (JST):  U.S. Worldwide Travel Alert - May 2 - The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo transmitted the following information through the Embassy's warden system as a public service to all U.S. citizens in Japan. The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence following recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan. Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations. U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. This Travel Alert expires August 1, 2011.  (Source: U.S. Embassy Tokyo)

May 2, 2011 15:35 (JST):  Italian celebrity Girolamo Panzetta pledges to help with relief efforts
- In a recent interview with the Mainichi, Girolamo Panzetta, an Italian TV personality who has been living in Japan for over two decades, said he wanted to do all he could for Japan following the March 11 quake and tsunami, and the ongoing nuclear crisis. Panzetta, 48, is married to a Japanese woman whose father is a native of Fukushima Prefecture, one of the regions most severely hit by the disaster. "My father-in-law is from the Fukushima Prefecture town of Aizumisato, and I've been to the town many times." The Italian celebrity says he is currently preparing to send relief supplies to the affected regions. (Source: Mainichi Daily News)

Hot Springs, Arkansas benefit concert for sister city, Hanamaki, Iwate May 2, 2011 10:40 (JST):  Tornado-damaged Hot Springs, Arkansas holds benefit concert for Japanese sister city - In spite of suffering severe damage from last week's tornadoes, Hot Springs, Arkansas held a benefit concert anyways for its quake/tsunami-damaged Japanese sister city, Hanamaki, in Iwate Prefecture. (Source:

May 2, 2011 7:30 (JST):  Securing land for housing for disaster victims poses challenge - Securing enough land for temporary housing for victims of the March 11 strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami has emerged as a challenge for government officials as they work out reconstruction plans for northeastern Japan. On Monday, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced that it should be able to secure land lots to build around 52,000 temporary housing units for those who lost their homes in the most heavily hit prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima. This is still short of the need, as the government still has to find lots for around 20,000 more units. (Source: Japan Today)

May 2, 2011 5:05 (JST):  Repetitive post-quake public service messages drove TV viewers nuts - "The same ad messages were repeated too many times. They were never designed to be shown that way, and there was no real connection between their message and the post-disaster situation." Yukichi Amano, a columnist for Kokoku Hihyo, a trade publication that covers the advertising industry, is obviously unhappy with blizzard of public service messages aired on TV after the March 11 disaster in Tohoku. "It's hard enough as it is to convey the right message through those kind of ads," Amano continues. "Viewers are just as likely to feel, 'I don't want to have to listen to this kind of sermonizing!'" The TV networks suspended the airing of all regular TV commercials and substituted messages produced by the Advertising Council. (Source: Japan Today)

May 2, 2011 1:25 (JST):  Traffic jams heightened tsunami death toll after March 11 quake - Traffic jams following the devastating March 11 strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami added to the death toll in northeastern coastal areas, as many cars were stranded and swallowed up by the big waves. Although some local governments had called on residents not to use cars to escape from tsunamis, many people still attempted to do so. Ishinomaki, Miyagi city council member Yoshiaki Shoji, 60, who evacuated by bicycle to an elementary school near the national road, said he shouted to stalled cars to "Get out!", but nobody responded to his calls apparently as they were inaudible with the cars' windows closed. Shoji, who managed to run up to the second floor of the school and survive, said he found many cars toppled over there. (Source: Japan Today)

May 1, 2011 20:50 (JST):  Sightseeing boat resting on roof to be removed
- Authorities in Iwate Prefecture will start work to remove a sightseeing boat that was carried by the March 11th tsunami and ended up on top of a two-story building. The 27-meter long luxury cruiser owned by Kamaishi City was in a dockyard in neighboring Otsuchi Town for regular inspection when the tsunami hit the area. The boat came to rest about 400 meters inland on the roof of a Japanese-style inn. A university professor and others had requested local authorities to preserve the boat as a symbol of the disaster for future generations. (Source:

Sightseeing boat resting on roof to be removed

May 1, 2011 15:45 (JST):  Tourists return to Tokyo
- The first group of foreign tourists since the March 11th strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami has arrived in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. More than 20 people from Singapore flew into Tokyo's Narita Airport on Saturday morning where they received a warm welcome from Japan transport bureau staff and others. The tourists traveled to the hot-spring resort of Hakone where they got to view cherry blossoms around Lake Ashi. (Source:

Tourists return to Tokyo

May 1, 2011 10:50 (JST):  Japan protests French TV's description of quake
- The Japanese Embassy in France has lodged a protest with French TV's Canal Plus puppetry program over some inappropriate content that caricatures current affairs. Among the offending segments was a scene where a photo of disaster-hit areas was compared with one showing the devastation in Hiroshima after the 1945 atomic bombing. It was described as showing that nothing apparently has changed in Japan for the past 6 decades. The program also included a parody of Japan's national flag where the symbol for radioactivity was superimposed over the rising sun. (Source:

Japan flag w/ radioactivity symbol
Japan flag w/ radioactivity symbol

May 1, 2011 6:50 (JST):  Supply chain disruption expected to be resolved around autumn: METI
- Supply chain disruptions for parts and raw materials that have occurred after Japan's March 11 massive quake will likely be resolved by around the fall, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official said, based on results of a survey of 55 quake-affected major manufacturers. According to the survey, 85% of respondents producing industrial materials and 71% of those putting out finished products said they would be able to secure sufficient supplies by October. The survey also showed that 64% of the manufacturers' 70 production bases have been restored, although the ministry said it did not define the word "restored" in the survey. (Source: Japan Today)

April 30, 2011 18:45 (JST):  Tohoku Earthquake USGS Aftershock Map
- There have been 1115 Japan quakes since March 11, 2011.

USGS Tohoku earthquake aftershock map
Tohoku earthquake aftershock USGS interactive map
(Source: Earthquake Hazards Program)

April 30, 2011 16:10 (JST):  U.S. college offers scholarship for quake-affected Japanese students
- A U.S. university in Arkansas has set up a new scholarship for Japanese students who were affected by the March 11 catastrophic earthquake and ensuing tsunami. The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith said recently it will offer scholarships for two Japanese students who want to study abroad but face financial difficulties because of the disaster. The scholarship will allow the students to study at the university for eight months beginning in August. (Source: Kyodo News)

April 30, 2011 13:55 (JST):  Criticism up on Japan PM's handling of nuke crisis - Criticism of the Japanese government's handling of the crisis at a radiation-spewing nuclear power plant increased Saturday, with a new poll indicating three-quarters of the people disapprove and a key adviser quitting in protest. A Kyodo News service poll released Saturday showed that Prime Minister Naoto Kan's support ratings were plunging. The poll reported that 76 percent of the respondents think Kan is not exercising sufficient leadership in handling the country's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear triple crisis, up from 63.7 percent in the previous survey in late March. More...

Two workers find love among the ruins Abe and Murakami (Sankei)
April 30, 2011 10:35 (JST):  Two workers find love among the ruins - One Minami-Sanriku couple recently found a silver lining in the Tohoku tsunami disaster. 42-year-old Seiki Abe, a man living in one of the town's evacuee shelters successfully proposed to 28 year-old Nozomi Murakami, a volunteer worker there. The couple plan to marry in mid-May. Abe's home was relatively undamaged, but as a volunteer firefighter, he has been spending his days at a shelter cooking for residents. Murakami, who is a laundry worker, said she was inspired to volunteer because her father did the same following the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. The two met when Murakami, who was tasked with ferrying supplies, asked Abe to show her around. After the couple became closer, Abe popped the question on April 16. (Source: Japan Today)

Dalai Lama prays for quake-tsunami victims in JapanDalai Lama in Tokyo
April 30, 2011 8:25 (JST):  Dalai prays for quake-tsunami victims in Japan - On his first visit to Japan since last month's mega-quake and tsunami, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Friday offered prayers at a Buddhist temple for Japan quake and tsunami victims, and told survivors not to feel discouraged but to look to the future with full confidence. The 75-year-old monk, on his way to a 15-day US tour, prayed with 3000 people at Gokokuji Temple in Tokyo for an hour, seven weeks after the magnitude-9 quake and tsunami. His prayers for the victims came a day after Buddhist priests in black and gold robes chanted and rang bells to mark the 49th day since the twin disaster. Buddhist services are normally held to mark the day in the belief that that is when the souls of the dead depart for another world. More...

April 30, 2011 2:10 (JST):  GW volunteers surge in disaster-hit region - Japan starts Golden Week, a week of national holidays on Friday. And that has caused the number of volunteers visiting its disaster zones in the northeast to surge. A long line formed before 8AM outside a registered volunteer center at a university in Ishinomaki City, located in Miyagi Prefecture. The region was hardest hit by the March 11th strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami. The center has so many volunteers it has already ended its recruitment drive for the holiday period. (Source:

GW volunteers surge in disaster-hit region

Seventh week updates continued here: Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, News updates for April 23-29, 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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