Tsunami Scar Left on Japan

It was exactly one year ago today that Japan was struck by a disastrous earthquake and tsunami . . . and a nuclear meltdown followed. One year later, Bill Whitaker takes stock:


All along Japan’s northern coast it’s shocking to see the vast stretches of emptiness – a lifeless moonscape dotted with mountains of debris.

The only activity: Mechanical arms building heaps of debris higher and higher.

So much nothingness, one can’t help but wonder what’s been accomplished over the past year? … until you remember how this all began.

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the worst ever recorded in Japan, might end up a footnote compared to the black tide it triggered. The tsunami swept in off the Pacific and laid waste to everything in its path.

A coastline of cities and towns, factories and farms washed away in an instant.

Ebisu, the god of good fortune and the sea, was no match. Almost 20,000 people died or still are missing. So much death and destruction it took this country – an economic and technological giant – a whole year to achieve what today looks like . . . nothing.

“There is so much debris, but it exceeds the capacity of these communities to get rid of it, to incinerate it, to dump it. So it has to go somewhere else. And other communities around Japan have not been raising their hands,” said Jeff Kingston, who teaches Japanese history at Temple University Japan.


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