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CIAO Focus, April 2011: Japan's Nuclear Crisis

On 11 March 2011, the biggest earthquake on record in Japan triggered a devastating, 10-metre high tsunami that caused widespread destruction along the north-eastern coast. The Government of Japan has mobilized thousands of troops, planes and ships for an emergency response operation.

The government has also declared a state of emergency due to the threat posed by reactors in two nuclear power plants in Fukushima. On 13 March there was an explosion at Nuclear Power Plant No. 1. Over 200,000 residents living in a 20 kilometre area around the plants have been evacuated. Authorities are working to cool the nuclear reactors and the government says there is no immediate health risk.

The United Nations Secretary-General has expressed his deepest sympathies and says the UN will stand by the people of Japan and do everything it can to help. Major humanitarian needs include food, drinking water, blankets, fuel and medical items. A number of countries have offered assistance, the Red Cross has sent relief teams, and a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has arrived in Tokyo to assist with urban search and rescue as well as environmental hazard analysis.
Continuing aftershocks, fires and tsunami waves are hampering rescue efforts. Many tsunami-affected areas remain inaccessible. Up to three metre high waves continue to hit the coastline, and there have been at least 79 aftershocks in the region since the first 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit. The aftershocks have included 16 that had a magnitude greater than 6.0.

The government has reported 1,600 casualties with 10,000 people missing. According to the Government of Japan, over 2,000 buildings have been destroyed and some 11,000 damaged. Hundreds of roads, seven railways, and 43 bridges are damaged or washed away. However, the level of destruction is still unclear and the death toll is expected to rise significantly.

--United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


From the CIAO Database:

Interview: Japan's Crisis for Nuclear Power

Japan Crisis Not As Bad As Chernobyl (video)

Brookings Podcast: Japan's Fukushima Disaster Slows Plans for Nuclear Renaissance (video)

Japan Country Atlas & Country Data

Japan's Nuclear Tremors After Quake

Webinar: Japan's economy after the quake

Japan's National Security Policy: New Directions, Old Restrictions


Outside Sources: *

Primer: Japan's Nuclear Crisis

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Situation Report No. 25 (World Health Organization)

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Situation Report No. 16 (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)$File/full_report.pdf

Nuclear Power Reactors: A Study in Technological Lock-in

Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log (IAEA)

The Science of Japan's Nuclear Crisis

Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Crisis Facts and Figures

Can nuclear power save Japan from peak oil?

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine.