STATEMENT FROM THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA & NEWS HEADLINES ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE GREAT TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE
n Devastating quake can't shake Canadian's will to stay in Japan (Postmedia News)
n Japan marks one year since quake, tsunami that killed 19,000 (The Globe and Mail)
n Un an après le séisme au Japon, la Croix-Rouge a utilisé 93 pour cent des fonds (La Presse Canadienne - Le fil radio)
n Hope blossoms after Japan quake; In a striking exhibition, pupils rocked by tragedy a year ago see a future with hearts and budding trees (Ottawa Citizen)
n Harper souligne le courage des Japonais (PC) (BRANCHEZ-VOUS !)
n Fukushima's long shadow (The Toronto Star)
n Un an plus tard, les Japonais se rappellent du séisme et du tsunami (La Presse Canadienne)
n One year after Fukushima, nuclear energy remains essential (The Toronto Star)
n Toyota’s comeback plans could boost Ontario plants (The Toronto Star)
n Japan still recovering a year after earthquake (The Toronto Sun)
n Japan's 2011 nuclear calamity was preventable. But today's standards wouldn't stop it (The Globe and Mail)
n Tsunami had lasting effect here (Edmonton Journal)
n Guelph native stayed in Japan after quake; Family weighed options in face of aftershocks, radiation threat, then stayed put (Guelph Mercury)
n Japan open for business again a year after deadly earthquake (Vancouver Sun)
n La Croix-Rouge est toujours présednte au Japon (Métro Montréal)
n More than Japan's Disney; A retrospective at TIFF Bell Lightbox offers a chance to be spirited away into the world of Studio Ghibli, a powerhouse of mesmerizing animation (The Globe and Mail)
n Japan Earthquake Anniversary: Canada's Nuclear Industry Stands Pat In Fukushima's Wake (Huffington Post Canada)
n Japanese quake a warning to Canada: Prepare for the inevitable (Postmedia News)
n La commémoration du tremblement de terre survenu au Japon rappelle aux Canadiens qu'il faut se préparer aux catastrophes (Canada Newswire)
n Japan Earthquake Anniversary reminds Canadians to prepare for disasters (Canada NewsWire)
n Japan’s villages haunted by loss a year after tsunami (The Toronto Star)
n Special delivery; Japan's Studio Ghibli tackles 'deep questions in a package of fanciful fantasy' (National Post)
n TPP MEMBERS DISCUSS NEW ENTRANTS, BUT NO FINAL DECISIONS REACHED (Inside U.S. Trade)
n BAUCUS PRESSES KIRK TO USE TPP ENTRY AS 'LEVERAGE' OVER CANADA, JAPAN (Inside U.S. Trade)
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the anniversary of the Japan earthquake and tsunami
10 March 2012
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.
“One year after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, we honour the memory of the thousands of people who perished due to the devastating events of that fateful day.
“Canada responded quickly in the aftermath of the disasters. Following a request by the Government of Japan, Canada provided emergency relief supplies in the form of woven thermal wool blankets, portable radiation survey meters and dosimeters to help respond to the nuclear emergency.
“On this solemn day, I would also like to convey how much Canadians admire the amazing resilience of the Japanese people in the face of such devastation. Our country continues to be inspired by how the people of Japan — with calm, ingenuity and practicality — are translating iron resolve into reconstruction and recovery.
“Canada considers itself fortunate to have such a strong Asia-Pacific friend and partner and we look forward to building ever closer relations with Japan in the coming months and beyond.”
Japan open for business again a year after deadly earthquake
9 March 2012
The earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which hit eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, was one of the largest natural disasters in world history. Over 19,000 people were killed or remain missing.
Since the earthquake, my consulate has received hundreds of messages of condolences and generous donations from people across Canada, in particular British Columbia. In some cases, children delivered donations and origami cranes. There were many fundraising events to support the people in Japan. As well, after the earth-quake, I visited a number of places in the province, and everywhere I went I saw many activities being undertaken for Japan's relief.
I also received warm and kind messages from many individuals. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people from the bottom of my heart.
Japan is working hard at reconstruction. Restoration of infrastructure has been progressing rapidly. The Sendai Airport, which is a gateway for the Tohoku region, reopened on April 13, 2011, just over one month after the earthquake. Service along all sections of the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train was restored by April 29. Traffic restrictions on the Tohoku Express-way were lifted as early as March 24.
All ports have also been brought back into operation. Debris scattered around residences was completely removed in all municipalities by the end of August. As well, many Japanese companies have recovered at an astonishing speed, with their supply chains fully restored.
In addition, the Japanese government has launched the Reconstruction Agency, which oversees the entire reconstruction process. The government has allocated through
successive supplementary budgets a little over 20 trillion yen ($250 billion Cdn) for the reconstruction, which will further speed up rebuilding activities.
The reconstruction does not merely mean restoration of buildings and infrastructure to their original condition. Japan aims to produce a new model for disaster risk management. The plan is also to create "eco-future cities" with environmentally friendly infrastructure, such as power generation from renewable energy.
Reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have reached a condition equivalent to cold shut-down. The current travel warning issued by the Canadian government is set within a 20-km radius of the power plants, the same restriction set by the Japanese government. Safety continues to be the top priority and the authorities are following a concrete plan toward decommissioning the facility.
Japan intends to realize "an open reconstruction" that shares with the international community the knowledge gained through the disaster experience. Our government is con-ducting a comprehensive review of its energy policy, and after undertaking a broad dialogue with the Japanese people, will formulate a new strategy for energy and the environment, expected to be completed this summer.
Daily life, including in the main cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, is progressing normally. The radiation levels in those cities are the same or lower than other major foreign capitals.
I would like Canadians to consider visiting Japan for business, study or tourism, without any worries. Japan continues to be an attractive travel destination, which offers culture and culinary delights as well as a wide range of outdoor activities.
The word kizuna, meaning "the bond between people", was often used after March 11. The word connotes warm hearts and the kind support Japan has received from the international community, including Canada. I have no doubt that with the support of the international community, Japan will be able to physically recover from the disaster damage. However, it is more difficult to heal the wounded hearts of people, especially children, who have lost their beloved family members and friends. I sincerely hope that all Canadians will continue to keep a warm heart for those people who have been affected by this disaster.
The consulate-general is presenting an exhibit of photographs, Disaster & Recovery - The Great East Japan Earthquake, portraying both the catastrophe and rejuvenation of the region, from March 12 to March 23 at the Pendulum Gallery at the HSBC Building, 885 West Georgia Street. Admission is free.
Visit vancouversun.com to view the gallery of pictures.
Devastating quake can't shake Canadian's will to stay in Japan
11 March 2012
A year after Japan's mega-quake shook his house like a matchbox, Eric Sarault is still "really scared" that another big one will hit.
"It was the most frightening thing that has ever happened to me," said the 36-year-old Ottawa man, who has lived in Japan for four years. "I still am very nervous whenever we have even a small earthquake."
Sarault's town of Kakuda, in the hills of Miyagi prefecture, was spared the tsunami that devastated nearby coastal communities. But the quake still turned his life upside down.
"We lost power, water, telephone and cell service, and Internet," said Sarault by email from Japan on Sunday, the first anniversary of the disaster that left more than 19,000 dead or missing. "It was like this for almost three weeks.
"All of the stores in town were closed as well," he continued. "We had to line up a few times a day to get water. Sometimes the grocery stores would randomly open to sell food, so we would have to bicycle around town to see if they were open that day."
Sarault was at home when the quake hit, but quickly ran outside.
"The house was shaking so much that I could barely walk. I could hear stuff crashing all around me. I managed to make it outside, but couldn't stand up - it was shaking too much.
"I could see the power lines whipping back and forth. I was worried about the house falling down or the power lines snapping, but there was no safe place to go to. It seemed to last forever."
In the midst of the chaos, Sarault set out to find his wife, who is Japanese, after she got stranded in Sendai, about 38 kilometres to the north.
"She had no way of getting home and nowhere to go after the earthquake. Everything was closed so she had to wander the streets until she could contact me to pick her up."
The pair spent two days cleaning up their home. "Our house was not terribly damaged, but everything inside of it was," said Sarault. "Our kitchen looked like someone had turned it upside-down."
He said the worst part for him was not having any water.
"Not being able to take a shower for three weeks was terrible. I've never felt so dirty in my life."
Sarault, who teaches English, was also put out of work for a month after the quake. But he realizes he was relatively lucky.
"Just 10 minutes away, a good part of Yamamoto was hit (by the tsunami) and over 600 people went missing. It's pretty disturbing to see the damage left behind."
One of the children he teaches lost his house in the tsunami but "never acted any different. Like nothing happened."
Others told more harrowing stories. "One of my adult students who worked in Ishinomaki during the tsunami decided to swim away ... after the first one had hit. If he didn't do that, he wouldn't be here today. All of his co-workers perished."
Today, Sarault says that his life is "mostly back to normal."
"People seem to finally be getting over the shell shock of the whole event."
And despite the region's almost-daily aftershocks and proximity to the troubled nuclear plant in Fukushima, 70 kilometres away, the Canadian man wants to stay where he is.
"My family wanted me to leave, but I felt that there was no reason to. My life is here now, so leaving wasn't even a thought.
"If another huge earthquake happened, though, I don't know what I would do."
Japan marks one year since quake, tsunami that killed 19,000
The Globe and Mail, 11 March 2012
RIKUZENTAKATA, JAPAN — With moments of silence and prayers, Japan on Sunday was remembering the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the nation one year ago, killing just over 19,000 people and unleashing the world’s worst nuclear crisis in a quarter century.
At dawn in the devastated northeastern coastal town of Rikuzentakata, dozens of people from across Japan gathered to offer prayers in front of a solitary pine tree that stands amid the barrenness, a symbol of survival. Some returned to where their houses and those of friends once stood, and placed flowers and small gifts for loved ones lost in the disaster.
Naomi Fujino, a 42-year-old Rikuzentakata resident who lost her father in the tsunami, was in tears recalling March 11, 2011.
With her mother, she escaped to a nearby hill where they watched the enormous wave wash away their home. They waited all night, but her father never came to meet them as he had promised. Two months later, his body was found.
“I wanted to save people, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even help my father. I cannot keep on crying,” Fujino said. “What can I do but keep on going?”
Photos: Japan tsunami and quake one year later
Later on Sunday, memorial ceremonies to mark 2:46 p.m. — the precise moment the magnitude-9.0 earthquake hit — were planned along the northeastern coast and in Tokyo, where the emperor and prime minister were scheduled to speak at the National Theater.
The quake was the strongest recorded in Japan’s history, and set off a tsunami that towered more than 20 metres in some spots along the northeastern coast, destroying thousands of homes and wreaking widespread destruction.
Today, some 325,000 people rendered homeless remain in temporary housing. While much of the debris has been gathered into massive piles, very little rebuilding has begun.
Beyond the massive cleanup, many towns are still finalizing reconstruction plans, some of which involve moving residential areas to higher ground. Bureaucratic delays in co-ordination between the central government, prefectural authorities and local officials have also slowed rebuilding efforts.
“Differences of opinion between central and local governments and even among the populations affected” has contributed to delays, Tadateru Konoe, president of the Japan Red Cross Society, said earlier this week. “They couldn’t reach any consensus. They still keep fighting with each other, looking for the best solution.”
Also, “it’s not simply building back as it used to be. It’s to build back better, and that requires a lot of consultations,” he added.
An anti-nuclear protest was also planned in downtown Tokyo on Sunday amid growing public opposition to atomic power in the wake of the disaster, the worst since Chornobyl in 1986.
The government says the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, where three reactor cores melted down after the tsunami knocked out their vital cooling systems, is stable and that radiation coming from the plant has subsided significantly. But the plant’s chief acknowledged to journalists visiting the complex recently that it remains in a fragile state, and makeshift equipment — some mended with tape — could be seen keeping crucial systems running.
Only two of Japan’s 54 reactors are now running while those shut down for regular inspections undergo special tests to check their ability to withstand similar disasters. They could all go offline by the end of April if none are restarted before then.
The Japanese government has pledged to reduce reliance on nuclear power, which supplied about 30 per cent of the nation’s energy needs before the disaster, but says it needs to restart some nuclear plants to meet Japan’s energy needs during the transition period.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has acknowledged failures in the government’s response to the disaster, being too slow in relaying key information and believing too much in “a myth of safety” about nuclear power.
“We can no longer make the excuse that what was unpredictable and outside our imagination has happened,” Noda told a group of reporters last weekend. “Crisis management requires us to imagine what may be outside our imagination.”
The phrase “soteigai,” or “outside our imagination,” was used repeatedly by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that runs the Fukushima plant, as the reason it was not prepared for the giant tsunami. Although some scholars had warned about such tsunami risks, both the utility and regulators did little to prepare for such an event, and kept backup generators in basements, where they could be flooded.
“We can say in hindsight that the government, business and scholars had all been seeped in a myth of safety,” Noda said of the oversights in the accident. “The responsibility must be shared.”
Enormous risks and challenges lie ahead at the Fukushima plant, including removal of the melted nuclear fuel from the core and the disposal of spent fuel rods. Completely decommissioning the plant could take 40 years.
Meanwhile, some 100,000 residents who lived around the plant are in temporary shelters or with relatives, unsure of when they will be able to return to their homes.
A 20-kilometre zone around the complex and an adjacent area remains off limits.
Pilot efforts to make radiation-contaminated land around the plant inhabitable again have begun, using everything from shovels and high-powered water guns to chemicals that absorb radiation.
But it is a monumental, costly project fraught with uncertainty, and experts cannot guarantee it will be successful. The Environment Ministry expects it will generate at least 100 million cubic meters of soil, enough to fill 80 domed baseball stadiums.
In Rikuzentakata, 37-year-old Mika Hashikai, who lost both her parents in the tsunami, was going around leaving flowers at the former homes of her friends and neighbours. Her brother also lost his wife and daughter in the tsunami.
“I only wish for my brother’s happiness now that he’s lost everything and is alone,” she said. “Maybe one day he can remarry and have children again.”