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Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan Earthquake 3/11 2.46


It is exactly a week since a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the coast of Sendai at 2.46pm in the afternoon of Friday 11 March, 2011.

The day has been marked by a minute's silence at various gatherings around Japan: in offices, factories, university graduation ceremonies and centers for the thousands of displaced people.

Japan Earthquake 3/11 2.46

6,405 people have died and around 10,200 others are missing after the tragedy with the numbers predicted to rise in to the tens of thousands. The damaged nuclear reactor in Fukushima is still not yet under control and continues to emit radiation into the environment.

The disaster became a huge international media event with minute-by-minute updates on international news networks and massive coverage on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Some foreign embassies in Tokyo have relocated their operations from Tokyo as well as urging their nationals to evacuate from the Japanese capital or leave Japan altogether.

Sales of Geiger counters and Potassium iodide tablets have skyrocketed in countries far removed from Japan's borders. Many people have fled from Tokyo to escape the aftershocks, transport chaos and repeated blackouts.

There have been shortages of such things as bottled water, diapers, toilet rolls and instant ramen but in general there has been a remarkable stoicism displayed by the local people who seem determined to carry on with their daily lives.

Japan Earthquake 3/11

The post-mortem on the preparedness of the Japanese government and the country's nuclear industry for disaster on this vast a scale has yet to be delivered and it remains to be seen if the tragic events of 3/11 will change the direction of Japan as it emerges from this most harrowing moment in its history.

The well-known apathy of Japanese youth and the entrenched power of the country's business and bureaucratic elites would seem to augur that things will go on as normal without much introspection, angst or collective debate.

At the public event I attended today, few mentioned the traumatic week all the people living in Japan have experienced. The public mentality is to block out and ignore the unpleasant and yearn for the normal state of affairs.

As the media circus passes on to other more newsworthy stories it remains to be seen how deeply the events of 2.46pm, March 11 will change how things are done here in Japan.

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