Earthquake, Tsunami and the Fukushima Disaster

245 views 9 pages ~ 2408 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

We can find a historical account of the disaster by searching through the World Nuclear Association website archives. It states that "the Great East Japan Earthquake of magnitude 9.0 at 2.46 pm on Friday, March 11, 2011 (sic) did considerable damage in the region, and the large tsunami it created caused much more."

The earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear facility, which is regarded as one of the worst disasters in history, has had an impact on every part of Japanese society. This research paper will focus on the problems encountered in Japan’s rehabilitation after the disaster and what should have been done to make the recoveries faster and more effective.

How did Japan cope up with the impact of that triple disaster? What are the difficulties that challenged the people of Japan and the authorities in the reconstruction process? What are the better strategies that they should have come up with during those times? Those are the questions that I want to answer in writing this research study. I consulted related literature from books, peer-reviewed writings, and news articles. To organize my data, I grouped them into three categories. First is the catastrophe. Second is the renewal and recovery, and third, the challenges. My objective is to analyze the available literature about the events, their after-effects in the lives of the people, and to analyze the strategies used in the rehabilitation programs. In doing this research, I have to make my thesis statement so that I may be able to focus on arriving at the most logical answers, whether my statement is correct or null, this paper will serve its purpose. In rehabilitating Japan after the disasters, I can say that in coping and recovering with the aftermath of the calamity, challenges were everywhere specifically in rehabilitation, reconstruction, and relocation of the survivors. My analysis will tackle the pitfalls pointed by the literature, the suggested options, and my personal point of views.

The Catastrophe

News from all over had dominated the media on 11 March 2011. Japan, known as a country that sits on the ‘Pacific Belt of Fire’ had a great earthquake, followed by an enormous tsunami, and then series of accidents.

Sample, and Branigan, writers of The Guardian published:

Japan is battling to stave off a nuclear disaster after an explosion at a northeastern nuclear plant in the wake of the enormous earthquake and tsunami.

Authorities are evacuating tens of thousands of residents living within a 12-mile (20km) radius of the Fukushima Daiichi plant and those within 6 miles of a second installation in Futuba, 150 miles north of Tokyo.

CNN reported that the “combined total of confirmed deaths and missing” is more than twenty-two thousand people. “About an hour after the quake, waves up to 30 feet high hit the Japanese coast, sweeping away vehicles, causing buildings to collapse and severing roads and highways”.

Then the World Health Organization reported:

An explosion occurred at Unit 1 at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear facility, but the Japanese authorities reported that the incident did not involve the reactor core and containment around the radioactive core remained intact. The authorities said the cooling system at Unit 3 in the Fukushima Daichi complex was also not fully functioning.

BBC News online published on 11 March 2011:

The quake was the fifth-largest in the world since 1900 and nearly 8,000 times stronger than the one which devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, said scientists… train services were suspended, stranding millions of commuters in the Japanese capital. About four million homes in and around Tokyo suffered power cuts.

I remember watching the news, and feeling so sad with what was happening. The natural disaster was so huge, one event, after another, and then came an accident with the nuclear power reactors. It was like the trembling earth, the surging ocean, and the radiation-filled air had come together to declare the inhabitants as their adversary. It was one event in one’s lifetime that cannot be forgotten, and if someone had a choice, he or she would not be at that place that time.

Renewal and Recovery

A vast amount of literature will describe that horrific day when Japan was stricken with such a catastrophe and I chose not to describe too much and concentrate my work with the renewal plans and the recovery period.

“In Onagawa, the first meeting of the redevelopment committee was held on May 1, 2011…and the recovery and redevelopment plan was finally published in July” (Karan and Suganuma 128).

Steve Lohr of the online New York Times reported:

The damage of the earthquake has been geographically widespread, and thus, for the time being, production is likely to decline and there is also concern that the sentiment of firms and households might deteriorate,’’ the central bank said in a statement. To try to stabilize the markets and prop up the economy, the central bank earlier Monday poured money into the financial system.

A catastrophe like the 2011 earthquake-tsunami-nuclear blast in Japan is a very huge challenge to face. The following paragraphs will tackle Japan’s road to recovery until year 2016.

The Reconstruction Agency (RA) of Japan gave an update in their website in October, 2016 regarding the recovery plans. According to them, after the calamity, the Japanese government promptly “formulated budgets, modified laws and orders”. A reconstruction time frame of ten years has been set, where an allocation of an approximately $250 billion was reserved for the first five years, and another $65 billion for the next five years. One of the recovery plans included Tokyo’s pledge to fund “26.3 trillion yen over five years” for reconstruction (Euro News).

A recent print from Global Investment & Business Center (GIBC) gives details concerning the current economic standing of Japan in the global context. According to them, the disaster “disrupted manufacturing” and large economic recovery happened in two years, since the event (15). In addition to this, Japan has a “huge government debt, which is exceeding 230% of gross domestic product” (16).

Editors Fandiño, Kontar, and Kaneda published in their monograph:

Some community members who took part in collective relocation program are ready to build their new homes …the Japan Reconstruction Agency also reported that 68% of the total planned levee reconstruction managed by the prefectural government had begun construction by March 2014 (37). They further said that the reconstruction programs caused many problems because of the issues in coordination between the national government and its local counterpart (21).

Kirk Spitzer of The USA Today reported in 2016 that “about 53 million tons of debris was hauled off…yet, in many respects, the recovery is just beginning”. According to RA, around 60 thousand people still live in temporary shelters.

GIBC further described Japan’s economic recovery in one of their publications: Japan has largely recovered from the economic shocks caused by the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and GDP has returned to its pre-quake levels. Japan continues to grow challenges of low growth, deflation, and an aging population and shrinking workforce.

Found in RA’s website is an excerpt of Tsuyoshi Takagi’s speech to uplift the moral of the Japanese people. The Minister for Reconstruction mentioned in his speech in February 2016:

Japan is now entering a period of “reconstruction and revitalization.” In 2020, Japan will host the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Let’s call this event “Olympic Games for Recovery” and show the world that the affected areas have recovered from the disaster with the mobilization of all available resources throughout Japan.   With the opportunity of the five-year anniversary of the earthquake, I would like you to look back our experiences over these past five years and the state of reconstruction in the disaster-affected areas, and ask for continued warm support from the people of Japan as well as around the world in order to achieve the earliest possible recovery of the disaster-affected areas.

Challenges in the Rehabilitation Process

Facing a tragic situation like what Japan did is a very challenging process. Economic and environmental issues were certainly bombarding everyone and touching their moral and social perspectives. Problems after problems, the people and the authorities must have possessed stronger convictions and fighting spirits to achieve their recovery goals.

Following are the challenges that faced Japan in the recovery period:

Economic Effects. Karan and Suganuma said, “Japan is still wrestling with the disruption and dislocation unleashed that day (32). Furthermore, they concluded that it would take decades to clean up the nuclear mess, and Japan’s taxpayers would have to shoulder this responsibility (227).

Nanto, Cooper, and Donnelly, editors of the book Japan’s 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami, published that the “value of the yen and interest rates also are being affected”. It stated that the Group of Seven Industrial Nations agreed to “cooperate as appropriate” in order to stabilize Japan’s currency and prevent its value from decreasing continuously (7). Despite of this initiative, Japan’s economy “shrank at annual rate of 3.7 percent in the first quarter of 2011” (Karan and Suganuma 29).

Environmental Issues. “By 2012, several towns and cities had formulated ‘basic recovery plans’ listing major reconstruction projects… and relocation of people to higher grounds” (Karan and Suganuma 16). “In October 2013 a mission visited (Fukushima) at government request and reported on remediation and decontamination in particular. Its preliminary report said that decontamination efforts were commendable but driven by unrealistic targets (World Nuclear Association).


The information above and other parts of the literature presented became the basis of my analysis. Below are the shortcomings that I found in the onset of the disaster and the aftermath strategies applied.


We cannot prevent natural calamities but global programs are everywhere for disaster preparedness. Japan has been very active in disaster prevention activities. Large dykes and breakwaters were built to prevent further damages to the areas that are frequently visited by tsunamis and earthquakes.

Mimura, et. al described how disaster prevention measures are prepared in Japan:

The Pacific Coast of northeast Japan is called the Sanriku Region. This region has suffered from large tsunamis in the past…based on these disasters, the national and local governments continued to increase the level of the tsunami countermeasures. As one of such measures, large breakwaters were constructed…to protect the cities located in the inner bay areas against tsunamis (811).

Structures always have limits and capacities, and a breakwater’s height and its strength are not exempted from these limitations. Japan authorities did not ignore the fact that the country is frequented by earthquakes and tsunamis but preparation with the worse situations to come may have been lacking, as written by Mimura, et. al, “as these places are several kilometers inland from the coast, people did not expect that such flooding would occur. The overwhelming force of the tsunami inundated 43% of the residential areas” (810). Additionally, in spite of the government efforts in preventing nuclear disaster with the implementation of nuclear power safety and disaster prevention, Japan still experienced the Fukushima incident.

Recovery Pitfalls

According to Mimura, et. al, the calamity left about 25 million tons of wreckage only in three cities and environmental issues were not addressed properly because “disaster management plans focused on the refugees etc., but seldom consider the treatment of the wreckage” (814-815). It is just a humane approach to establish first the safety of the people before trying to eliminate environmental issues but contamination of the surrounding may lead to more casualties and accidents.

“The situation is worsened by the indifference of the local government towards the residents, who feel abandoned, since it gives information or expenses man power and money only through concrete reconstruction projects” (Fandiño, Kontar, and Kaneda 22-23). Challenges in dealing with the victims and the survivors will always be at hand because these individuals lost everything, and for some others, their loved ones.


From the information cited in this paper, I conclude that Japan’s reconstruction efforts after the triple disaster were huge. However, economic and environmental challenges faced the rehabilitation period, which compromised the safety and welfare of the people involved. Lack of preparedness for the worse to come made the impact of the disaster more frightening than what should have been, especially its effect on the Fukushima power plants.

Proper coordination between the national and the local government was very essential that time, and some observers believed that there was a huge gap in this area of the rehabilitation programs.

Disaster prevention and preparedness education is available in Japan in large capacities but still they could not avoid some conflicts. Scholars and researchers are trying to shed some light to the pitfalls of the Fukushima incident and the effects of the calamity in order to prevent doing the same mistakes in the future.

Works Cited

“2011 Japan Earthquake – Tsunami Fast Facts.” CNN Library, 22 Nov. 2016, Accessed 5 Feb. 2017.

“Before and After: The Scars of Japan’s Tsunami Five Years On. Euro News, 09 Mar. 2016, Accessed 5 Feb. 2017.

“Efforts for Reconstruction of Tohoku, Japan Reconstruction Agency.” October 2016, Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.

Fandiño, Vicente-Santiago, Yevgeniy Kontar, and Yoshiyuki Kaneda. Post-Tsunami Hazard: Reconstruction and Restoration. Springer, 2015.

“Five Years Since March 11, 2011.” Japan Reconstruction Agency, Feb. 2016, Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.

“Fukushima Accident.” World Nuclear Association, Jan. 2017, Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.

Global Investment & Business Center. Japan: Doing Business and Investing in Japan Guide, vol. 1. International Business Publication, 2017.

Global Investment & Business Center. Japan Special Economic Zones Handbook – Strategic Information and Regulations. International Business Publication, 2016.

“Japan Earthquake: Tsunami Hits North-East.” BBC News, 11 Mar. 2011, Accessed 2 Feb. 2017.

Karan, Prandyumna, & Unryu Suganuma, (Eds.). Japan After 3/11: Global Perspectives on the Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Meltdown. University Press of Kentucky, 2016.

Lohr, Steve. “Disruptions of Power and Water Threaten Japan’s Economy. The New York Times, 13 Mar. 2011. Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.

Mimura, Nobuo, et al. “Damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami – A Quick Report., 4 May 2011. Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.

Nanto, Dick, William H. Cooper, & J. Michael Donnelly, (Eds.). Japan’s 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami: Economic Effects and Implications for the United States. Congressional Research Service, 2011.

Sample, Ian, & Tania Branigan. “Fukushima nuclear plant blast puts Japan on high alert”. The Guardian, 12 Mar. 2011, Accessed 5 Feb. 2017.

Spitzer, Kirk. “5 Years Later, Japan Still Struggles to Recover from Tsunami Disaster”. USA Today, 08 Mar. 2016, Accessed 5 Feb. 2017.

“WHO Puts Global Radiation Experts on Standby.” World Health Organization, 13 Mar. 2011, Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.

March 02, 2023

Disasters Geology

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Earthquake
Verified writer

Working on a team project on global warming, I contacted PeterB. He is an excellent writer who will not only provide you with great sources but also fix all your grammar mistakes if you have a draft.

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro

Similar Categories