Despair in Japan

By Amelia Lipcsei

On Wednesday evening, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Japan, leaving 2.3 million people without power in the Kanto region. The earthquake spread quickly; even residents in Tokyo reported feeling the shaking. Now, the Japan Meteorological Agency has issued tsunami warnings in Miyagi and Fukushima, advising over 39,000 people to evacuate the area. 

Unfortunately, past earthquakes in Japan have caused immense damage to the country. The Kobe earthquake of 1995 killed over 6,000 people, and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami melted three reactors in the Daiichi plant. After the 9.0 earthquake in Honshu almost 12 years ago, the following tsunami caused 19,000 deaths, the evacuation of 164,1000 people, and destruction that still remains to this day. The 45 foot tall waves devastated the region, causing lasting damages and issues within Japan. Just last year, after releasing some of the nuclear wastewater from the tsunami back into the ocean, Japan faced immense backlash from environmentalists. 

Now, as of March 10, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has investigated nuclear power plants in the area, stating that they have not “detected any abnormalities at plants in Fukushima; in Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture; or in Tokai in Ibaraki Prefecture.” However, one of the reactors in the Daiichi plant, in the area where the 2011 meltdown occurred, sounded a fire alarm after the earthquake. Undergoing cleanup since 2011, the reactor remains shut down and under inspection. 

Fortunately, a tsunami is not expected to follow the recent earthquake. Following further inspection, Don Blakeman, a geophysicist, explained, “We usually don’t see a destructive tsunami until you get to around 7.5.” With a magnitude of 7.3, the earthquake that occurred on March 9 falls below the area of massive concern, causing scientists to expect no further damages to occur due to the natural disaster. However, only time will tell if another earthquake or tsunami will follow.