Far from Finished, Five Years After Fukushima

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Author: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
March 4, 2016

Five years ago, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami that caused the meltdown of two nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Coping with the consequences, especially to the once-thriving nuclear power sector, remains a chief challenge for the government.

The immediate effect of the earthquake was a historic thirty-foot tidal wave that devastated cities and towns up and down the coast, resulting in 15,894 (PDF) dead, 2,562 (PDF) missing, and more than 386,000 (PDF)Japanese displaced. Today, more than 170,000 (PDF) victims of Japan’s so-called triple disasters are still unable to return to their homes. Above all, the legacy of the meltdown at Fukushima endures, and public consensus on nuclear power remains elusive.

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