Letter from Japan: Life One Year after the Earthquake, Tsunami and Fukoshima Daiichi Nuclear Meltdown

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Observed from an editor’s desk on the other side of the world, Japan’s tragedy may seem like a single story, or three: quake, tsunami and meltdown. But here on the ground, the experience of the past year has ranged from apocalyptic to unsettling — with only a few hours’ drive or a few meters of elevation separating one from the other.

It’s one year now since the tragedy of March 11 struck our coast.

Fortunately — but too close for comfort — the tsunami devastation triggered by the earthquake trailed off 70km north of our beach here in Onjuku. The quake did no more than knock a few books from our shelves. And since winds blow on our coast 90% of the time from south to north, along with the ocean current, no radiation has come our way.

Life is back to normal. Everywhere in Japan, except the reactor’s immediate vicinity, is safe to visit. After several very lean months, we have been snowed under with work since August. Spring is coming and our plum trees are in bloom. This is still a wonderful place to live — and we’re happy here.

But today we ache for the 19,000 souls who lost their lives. And we feel for the people in Fukushima — including friends — who are facing the dreadful realization that they will never, ever be able to go home. An area the size of Luxembourg may be off limits forever.

To understand what life is like in Japan one year on, please read the March edition of No.1 Shimbun, the magazine of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. I recommend this because… well… I’m the editor.

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