May 20, 2024


Japan commemorated the 13th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on Monday, with memorial services held across affected prefectures.

Devastating tragedy: On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a massive tsunami on Japan’s northeastern coast, leading to a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. The incident forced thousands in the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima to flee their homes and saw about 20,000 people dead in the aftermath.

Displaced communities: Thirteen years later, thousands of residents remain displaced from their homes while waiting for the safe and successful decontamination of the crippled power plant. The Fukushima plant’s long and complex decommissioning process continues with reconstruction efforts currently ongoing in areas not contaminated by radiation.

Remembering the dead: On Monday, memorial events honoring the victims were held nationwide, with survivors mourning their losses at sites of devastation, reported the Associated Press. Across the affected prefectures, people observed a minute of silence at 2:46 p.m., the exact time the earthquake struck, paying tribute to all the victims.

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Rebuilding a region: With Fukushima’s full decommissioning project expected to span decades, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida led officials in pledging continued support for rebuilding the affected region.

“We will continue to do utmost for the full-fledged recovery and rebirth, as well as the recovery of the northeastern region,” Kishida said during a ceremony in Fukushima.

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Calls for a change: Citing environmental concerns, advocates have been protesting against these efforts as treated radioactive wastewater is released into the ocean. The anniversary also prompted renewed calls for a nationwide review of evacuation plans, especially around nuclear plants.

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