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Home: Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: News updates for May 21-27, 2011

Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake
and Tsunami
News updates for May 21-27, 2011

This page is a continuation of my main Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami page, reflecting May 21-27, 2011 news updates for the 11th 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 11th Week after Japan Earthquake and Tsunami -- May 21-27, 2011 (JST=UT+9 hrs., or CDT+14 hrs., e.g. 8 am in Houston = 10 pm in Tokyo):

May 27, 2011 21:15 (JST):  TEPCO may need to plug leak at Fukushima plant - The operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant says highly radioactive water continues to leak from a waste disposal facility in the complex. Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Friday that the water level had dropped by around 3 centimeters as of 7 AM from the level observed at 5 PM on Thursday. TEPCO had transferred to the facility some of the highly radioactive water flooding the basement of the No.3 reactor's turbine building and nearby tunnel, before it suspended the work earlier this week. (Source:

TEPCO may need to plug leak at Fukushima plant

May 27, 2011 10:20 (JST):  Japan Should Stop Building Skyscrapers After Quake, Mori Says
- Japan needs to stop building skyscrapers after the March earthquake traumatized office workers and residents in tall buildings, said billionaire Akira Mori, the president of Mori Trust Co. "People realized that it's difficult to live and work in high-rise buildings after this earthquake," said Mori, who heads the country's second-biggest privately held developer. "The buildings themselves are fine, but they swayed back and forth greatly. Some people got dizzy and that experience will probably leave a scar in their mind." Mori, Japan's third-richest person, said the government should consider setting a standard height for new buildings at about 100 meters (328 feet), a level for so-called base-isolation systems that shift and reduce the energy of quakes to work best. More...

Mori Says Stop Building Skyscrapers After Quake
Akira Mori, president and chief executive officer of Mori Trust Co.,
stands for a photograph at the company's headquarters in Tokyo.
(Photographer: Robert Gilhooly/Bloomberg)

May 27, 2011 2:50 (JST):  Families of tsunami victims visit no-entry zone
- People who lost family members in the March 11 quake disaster are visiting the no-entry zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to offer prayers for their loved ones. On Thursday, 111 people who were forced to evacuate from Namie and Futaba towns are making brief home visits on a supervised bus tour. This is among the special visits the nine municipalities near the nuclear plant began on May 10th. Among the participants on Thursday's tour are some 50 people whose relatives were killed or are missing. They were forced to leave their homes after those areas were designated as a no-entry zone. (Source:

Families of tsunami victims visit no-entry zone

May 26, 2011 21:45 (JST):  Tohoku Earthquake Increases Japanese Earthquake Risk
- The recent magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan has increased the risk of earthquakes across the rest of the country, say scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Kyoto University and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). After studying data from the extensive and "superb monitoring networks" in and around Japan, the researchers have identified several areas across the country now at greater risk of earthquakes. The earthquake, which is the largest Japan has ever recorded, has already triggered a large number of aftershocks across the country. More...

Tohoku quake aftershocks
Map showing the 11 March 2011 magnitude 9.0 off Tohoku mainshock and 166 aftershocks of magnitude 5.5 and greater until May 20.
(Source: Planetsave)

May 26, 2011 13:50 (JST):  Citizens, local gov'ts target vending machines for energy saving
- Environmental groups and local governments have begun taking actions to reduce the number of beverage vending machines in Tokyo and its vicinity as a means of energy saving before power shortages expected for this summer. Ten nongovernmental organizations have launched a campaign calling for the reduction, while Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures are calling on the central government to make legal revisions to enable restriction of such machines' operation hours. Japan has about 5.2 million vending machines nationwide, half of them for beverages. (Source: Japan Today)

May 26, 2011 6:05 (JST):  Softbank's Masayoshi Son to build 10 solar power plants
- Masayoshi Son, the CEO and president of Japanese telecom company Softbank and the richest man in the country plans to involve his company in a project that will build 10 solar power plants in the country. Son's idea is to build an "Eastern Japan Solar Belt" to promote the country's shift away from nuclear and towards renewable energy -- solar, wind, and geothermal -- and to help the northeast part of Japan recover after the March 11 quake and tsunami, which triggered a nuclear crisis after Fukushima plant's reactors were destroyed. Each of the new plants would cost about Y8 billion ($97 million), and the funding scheme is still a bit unclear. (Source: The Tokyo Times)

Masayoshi Son
(photo by Danny Choo)

May 26, 2011 0:55 (JST):  Elderly engineers want 'final mission' to Fukushima
- A group of elderly Japanese engineers are prepared to come out of retirement to fix the Fukushima nuclear power plant for their final mission. More than 160 nuclear and civil engineers over the age of 60 are planning to set up a Skilled Veterans Corps to assist restoring control over crucial cooling functions at the tsunami-hit nuclear power plant. The idea was masterminded by Yasuteru Yamada, 72, a retired engineer formerly working in plant construction, who was alarmed by reports of young subcontractors, some unskilled in this field, undertaking the high-risk work. More...

May 25, 2011 21:25 (JST):  Demand for personal Geiger counters soars in Japan
- With a nuclear plant just 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo still leaking radiation, demand for personal Geiger counters has skyrocketed in the Japanese capital and manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the demand. With many people unsure of who to trust for their information, some buy Geiger counters to check for themselves. In Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics mecca, many stores have sold out and are unable to keep up with demand for the devices. (Source: Reuters)

Demand for personal Geiger counters soars in Japan
A radiation monitor indicates 0.41 microsieverts per hour at Mutsuo Mito's dairy farm in Shinchimachi, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan, April 13, 2011. 
(Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

May 25, 2011 14:35 (JST):  How Microsoft, Partners Are Rebuilding in Japan
- Two months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recapped some of the efforts by Microsoft and its partners to help, including a "small" $2 million donation to the relief efforts in cash and in-kind contributions, and matching its employees' donations. The company also distributed more than 3,000 Windows PCs to evacuation workers to help them stay in touch with nonprofit organization headquarters. With so much server capacity lost along with all the other infrastructure destroyed in the area of the quake and tsunami, Microsoft also provided organizations across Japan free access to cloud-based infrastructure, such as Windows Azure, Exchange, SharePoint and Lync Online. More...

May 25, 2011 9:30 (JST):  March tsunami traveled at 20km/h in Sendai
- An expert says a tsunami triggered by the March 11th earthquake traveled at a speed of 20 kilometers an hour in the Sendai Plain, northeastern Japan, making it difficult for people to escape after they saw the wave. Professor Fumihiko Imamura of the Tohoku University Disaster Control Research Center analyzed aerial footage of the tsunami filmed by NHK about one hour after the mega-quake. Imamura says the tsunami traveled 260 meters in 46 seconds at a location in Sendai City, one kilometer from the coast. This means the wave was moving at a speed of 20 kilometers an hour in the area. (Source:

March tsunami traveled at 20km/h in Sendai

May 25, 2011 2:20 (JST):  Uniqlo's fashionable celebs pitch in to save Japan
- The latest fashion brand to leverage their industry contacts is high street brand Uniqlo. Japan's biggest retailer has followed-up their generous donation of over 16 million pounds ($25.9 million) to the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami relief fund made in March, by joining up with the Conde Nast Group -- publishers of Vogue Japan and GQ Japan -- to recruit a host of fashionable names to design a range of T-shirts for the 'Save Japan' campaign. 10 top names have flexed their artistic muscles to create a unique and personal design, including Lady Gaga, Karl Lagerfeld, Blake Lively, Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alber Elbaz, and Nicole Kidman. (Source:

Uniqlo's celebrity designed T-shirts
A selection of Uniqlo's celebrity designed T-shirts to 'Save Japan'

May 24, 2011 21:20 (JST):  Meltdowns also at No. 2, No. 3 reactors
- The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says findings show that fuel meltdowns may have occurred at the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors within days of the March 11th earthquake. But it says both reactors are now stable at relatively low temperatures. Tokyo Electric Power Company said earlier this month that fuel rods at the plant's No.1 reactor had melted. The utility says a cooling system failure at the No. 2 reactor 3 days after the quake led to a sharp drop in its water level. (Source:

Meltdowns also at No. 2, No. 3 reactors

May 24, 2011 13:35 (JST):  Flyjin Reconciliation
- The March 11 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis prompted an exodus of tens of thousands of foreigners from Japan in scenes more usually associated with war-ravaged countries. All this prompted the coining of the term "flyjin" -- a combination of the English word 'fly' and the Japanese word 'gaijin,' which means foreigner. More than two months after the disaster, many foreigners have now returned to Japan. Yet these returnees are finding a chilly reception & facing the difficult situation of having to justify their departure to Japanese colleagues, friends, and in some instances, even family members. More...

May 24, 2011 7:00 (JST):  Boat washed ashore by tsunami moved back to sea
- A HUGE fishing boat washed ashore by the March 11th tsunami has been moved by a floating crane to waters off Miyagi Prefecture. The 800-ton tuna fishing boat had been on a road near Kesennuma port since the tsunami struck more than 2 months ago. The floating crane docked about 50 meters away lifted the ship 3 meters above the ground on Monday morning. Nearly 100 people watched the boat being moved. (Source: Southern California Public Radio)

800-ton fishing ship in Kesennuma returned to sea after 2 months
800-ton fishing ship in Kesennuma returned to sea after 2 months
(photo source)

May 23, 2011 21:55 (JST):  Purdue University raises more than $22K for Japan relief - The American Red Cross Japan Earthquake Relief Fund will add more than $22,000 to its balance today -- courtesy of Purdue University student organization heads and a Nobel Prize winner. Purdue's Japan Student Association and Purdue Student Government led a campuswide fundraising effort to help the victims of the March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami that tore through the country. Nobel laureate Ei-ichi Negishi, who was in Yamato, Japan, when the earthquake hit, offered to double funds raised up to $10,000. (Source:

Purdue University raises more than $22K for Japan relief
Elizabeth McKenzie, center, a senior in the College of Science, and Naoki Wada, right, a junior in the College of Engineering, staff a donation site for the Purdue Japan Relief Fund. (Photo by Purdue Japan Student Association)

May 23, 2011 18:40 (JST):  7800 residents in Fukushima evacuation zone refuse to leave
- On April 22nd, the government ordered people in Iitate Village and a part of Kawamata Town to leave by the end of this month because of radiation exposure from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. But about half the residents living in parts of Fukushima Prefecture where an evacuation order is in place have still not left one week before the government-set deadline runs out. Some residents remaining in the areas say emergency shelters are far from their work places and their children's schools. Others say they will lose their jobs if they move away. (Source:

May 23, 2011 12:15 (JST):  Tired Teddy
(Japan Today's Picture of the Day) - (source)

Tired Teddy in Rikuzentakata
A worker walks by a teddy bear in an area devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture. (AP photo)

May 23, 2011 8:15 (JST):  Engineers, researchers help disaster survivors access online info
- Engineers from information technology companies and researchers from universities have cooperated to help survivors of the March 11 quake and tsunami access online information such as on daily life and employment. The "IT volunteers" have installed PCs and networking lines for free at some shelters housing disaster evacuees as local governments and citizens groups have provided online information that would be useful for them. Employees of IT company Cisco Systems G.K. joined about a dozen other volunteers from Tokyo in mid-April to prepare for extending a communication cable to an accommodation facility used as an evacuation shelter in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. (Source: Japan Today)

May 22, 2011 21:15 (JST):  Japan plans solar panels for all new buildings
- Japan is considering a plan that would make it compulsory for all new buildings and houses to come fitted with solar panels by 2030. The plan aims to show Japan's resolve to encourage technological innovation and promote the wider use of renewable energy. On Thursday, the first day of the two-day summit in Deauville, France, Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to announce Japan's intention to continue operating nuclear plants after confirming their safety. But he is also expected to unveil a plan to step up efforts to push renewable energy and energy conservation. More...

Japan plans solar panels for all new buildings

May 22, 2011 17:45 (JST):  Wen to ease import restrictions
- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says China will scale back its ban on imports of Japanese food and its requirement for radiation testing. Wen conveyed the plan to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan when they met on Sunday on the sidelines of the summit of Japan, China, and South Korea. Kan called on China to ease restrictions on Japanese food imposed following the Fukushima nuclear accident. (Source:

Wen to ease import restrictions

May 22, 2011 10:45 (JST):  Calls for rescue of abandoned pets in Fukushima grow louder as time runs out - Appeals for the rescue of pets stranded in the government-designated no-entry zone within a 20-kilometer radius of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant started by a local woman are increasingly gathering support. A legislator & veterinarian, who obtained special permission to enter the no-entry zone to investigate the state of livestock, went around feeding abandoned cats and dogs. They said they saw abandoned pets everywhere, and that some dogs were found sitting waiting for their owners' return in front of their front door. Temporary home visits for evacuees from many cities, towns and villages are seeing delays, and there is worry that help will not reach the animals in time. (Source: Mainichi Daily News)

Calls for rescue of abandoned pets in Fukushima
Mieko Yoshida, center, and fellow volunteers appeal for the rescue of pets abandoned in the aftermath of the March 11 quake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis on May 15. (Mainichi)

May 22, 2011 7:15 (JST):  Radio station-inspired aid finally headed to Japan orphanages
- An estimated $1.2 million worth of earthquake and tsunami relief supplies collected in the Pacific Northwest are finally en route to Misawa Air Base, where they will be doled out to orphanages and hard-hit coastal areas. A group called Lift Non Profit Logistics, composed of logistics professionals with the knowledge and connections to leverage heavy-lift jets, ships and trucks to quickly respond to humanitarian relief efforts, was able to find the transportation needed to finally get the goods to Japan, and are expecting them to arrive in about three weeks. More...

Radio station-inspired aid finally headed to Japan orphanages
Gemini Sanford poses with one of the orphans at the Bikou-en
Children's Care House in Shichinohe, Japan (Photo: Gemini Sanford)

May 21, 2011 21:40 (JST):  Japanese government picks 16 new conservation sites
- The Japanese government will add 16 sites, including 2 beaches in quake-devastated Miyagi Prefecture, to the list of places to be conserved for their natural or aesthetic values. Kugunari and Kukunaki beaches in Kesennuma City are to be designated as national monuments. The 2 sandy beaches are noted for the almost musical noises they make when walked on. Currently, they are both covered with debris left by the March 11th tsunami, but a survey found that the rubble can be removed, leaving the so-called "singing sand" intact. (Source:

Japanese government picks 16 new conservation sites

May 21, 2011 15:40 (JST):  Wen thanks tsunami hero
- Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has expressed gratitude for the acts of a Japanese man who saved several Chinese trainees from the tsunami disaster. Mitsuru Sato, an executive of a fish-processing company, in Onagawa Town in Miyagi Prefecture, evacuated 20 Chinese trainees to higher ground before the tsunami struck the town. He then went missing and was later found dead. Sato's heroism made headlines in China soon after the disaster. (Source:

May 21, 2011 8:10 (JST):  "Operation Tomodachi" Photo Gallery - As a special issue of "American View" this spring, we present a gallery of photographs taken by Embassy staff and the U.S. military during the various earthquake and tsunami relief efforts, featuring "Operation Tomodachi." (Source: U.S. Embassy Japan)

"Operation Tomodachi" Photo Gallery
U.S. military service members present Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa with an Operation Tomodachi banner aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan on April 4, 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyle Carlstrom)

10th week updates continued here: Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, News updates for May 14-20, 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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