Yesterday marked the anniversary of the three-tiered terror that happened to Japan two years ago.
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the eastern coast of Japan. The quake, along with a tsunami reaching heights upwards of 100 feet, slammed the coast of Japan, killing 19,000. The quake and tsunami were enough to disrupt the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, causing a nuclear meltdown. The destruction from the quake and tsunami, and fear of radioactive poisoning, displaced more than 300,000 Japanese.
Progress continues in Japan. A couple weeks ago, the World Health Organization noted that the predicted risk of cancer from the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima is “low” and that there is “no observable increase in cancer rates.” Coalitions such as TOMODACHI (which means “friend” in Japanese) are seeking to keep the events of 3/11 from deterring the strong alliance that the U.S. and Japan have by increasing cross-country relations. And even NHK, a major Japanese broadcasting network, frequently airs “Road to Recovery” segments for their international viewers.
But Japan isn’t out of the woods yet. The country is often noted for having two lost decades, meaning its economic growth has seen little to no growth over the past 20 years—which was exacerbated by the 3/11 disaster.
But new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be just what Japan needs. Abe retook office after voters decided former counter-party Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda hadn’t handled the disaster well enough. With a strong emphasis on freeing up international trade, getting Japan back on nuclear energy, and increasing defense spending for Japan’s military, Abe may help bring Japan back from this disaster with a stronger economy in tow.
Abe will have to get through the strong opposition against nuclear energy in Japan, but his increase in defense spending is reflective of the fact that Japan’s military was a big help during 3/11, its largest mobilization ever. Japan is prone to 20 percent of the world’s total earthquakes.
Our hearts go out for those who were lost in the 3/11 disaster as well as to those who must endure its aftermath. The U.S. and Japan have a strong alliance, and we can only hope to continue working together in the future knowing that both countries will be there to assist each other in their times of need.