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Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami 24 Month Report

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This two-yearly report focuses on achievements and progress of JRCS relief and recovery programmes for Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The operation consists of eight areas of intervention:

  • Emergency Relief
  • Health Infrastructure and Care
  • Assistance for those Affected by Nuclear Power Plant Accident
  • Improving the Living Conditions of Affected People
  • Social Welfare Support
  • Children’s Education Support
  • Community Based Disaster Preparedness
  • Capacity Building of JRCS National Disaster Preparedness

The details of JRCS achievements in each area are shared in this report.

Period covered by this report: 11 March 2011 – 31 March 2013  

The Disaster:

On 11 March 2011 at 02.46 PM, Japan was struck by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, with the epicentre 130 kilometres from its northeast Pacific coast. The earthquake generated a devastating tsunami with waves estimated to have reached 38 meters. The consequences of the earthquake and tsunami in terms of deaths, injuries, economic and environmental damage were enormous.

As a result of the main earthquake and the ensuing tsunami, three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were severely damaged, resulting in significant radiation emissions. On 12 April 2011, the government declared the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant as a level 7 accident on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES)1 , equivalent to that of the 1986 Chernobyl crisis. Initially, the government created a 20 kilometre exclusion zone around the plant from which the residents were evacuated. Subsequently, on 15 May 2011, authorities began the evacuation of those living within 30 kilometres, as well as those in some sites further out.

In the initial weeks and months after the disaster, more than 400,000 people were displaced, taking shelter in schools, public facilities, hotels and homes of relatives and friends. Within six months, some 335,000 people had moved into apartments or prefabricated houses provided or paid for by the government. According to the Reconstruction Agency, an estimated 313,000 people were still displaced and relocated throughout 1,215 municipalities as of March 2013.

As of 11 March 2013, 15,882 people were confirmed dead, of whom 90 per cent drowned in the cold winter waters. 2,668 are still unaccounted for or missing. Apart from the numbers above, the Reconstruction Agency reported that a further 2,688 deaths were classified as disasterrelated as of March 2013. In comparison with the other affected prefectures, Fukushima suffered the highest number of deaths i.e. 1,383 lives lost out of the total deaths. Overall, about 70 per cent of the deaths were caused by physical and psychological exhaustion, mainly suffered by elderly residents, due to living in temporary housing or the process of being transferred from one place to another. Also, delayed medical treatment due to the destruction of hospitals accounted for 10 per cent of the deaths. Disaster survivors continue to face difficult living conditions along with the physical, psychological and financial issues resulting from the disaster.