From Triad Disaster to Olympic Host.
As the world unites to celebrate the raw power of humanity—the Olympics—should we not honor the resolve of Japan? The world must never forget 2011, when Fukushima was nearly leveled by not one natural disaster but a ripple of three phenomenons powerful enough to level any place on their own. Like Abebe Bikila, the Ethiopian 1960 marathon gold medalist, Fukushima rose with determination from nothing with heroism to success.
Lest The World Forgets
March 11th, 2011, a 9.0 earthquake rattled Japan and awoke a 15-meter (45 feet) tsunami that plowed into the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The wall of water pummeled into the power plant with the rough speed of 500 miles an hour and the power equivalent to 23,000 bombs. Subsequently, the tsunami disabled the power supply to three of the six cooling reactors. Within three days, half of the power plant’s six cores melted. Hydrogen and radioactive materials spilled across the shore and into the ocean. The loss was heavy. 15,900 deaths were confirmed, 300,000 people were displaced from their homes, and the fishing grounds were contaminated, but not all was lost. Heroes, survivors, and philanthropists combined efforts, and Fukushima stands today.
A Thank You Foiled by Covid
Fukushima has conquered the triad-devastation. In gratitude and wisdom, Japan erected a memorial program—3.11 Densho Road. The Disaster Memorial Network Council aims to use the memorial to educate the public on disaster mitigation, and tsunami preparation. Yoshinobu Harada, the executive director for the 3.11 Densho Road memorial program said, “After the disaster, we received generous donations from all over the world, which was a great encouragement to our recovery efforts [, and] I thought the Olympic Games would be a great opportunity to convey these lessons to the world.” However, according to Jake Seiner, AP NEWS sportswriter reported, the celebration the people of Japan hoped to share with the world has not happened. Japan has closed several of its district borders to mitigate the spread of Covid.
Education Honors Those Lost
Petra Nemcova, a Thailand tsunami survivor, the official UNDRR (United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction) World Tsunami Awareness Advocate said, “We cannot stop natural disaster, but we can arm ourselves with the knowledge. So many lives would not be lost, if there was enough disaster preparedness.” Japan listened and Japan created. 3.11 Densho Road.
What is 3.11 Densho Road?
3.11 Densho Road is an educational touring trail filled with a series of museums, parks, and preserved sites affected by the triad ripple of disaster. The “road” or network of sites stretches from Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and Sendai government districts, known as prefectures. One such stop on Densho Road, is Sendai Arahama Elementary School. The school has been preserved in its tsunami touched state. Seiner reported, school visitors would witness the water warped classrooms filled with blackboards, walls, and ceilings left as is. One teacher’s car was swept from the parking lot into a classroom and there remains immortalized, and the elementary gymnasium clock will forever read 3:55 pm. Through preserving the devastation, Yoshinobu Harada hopes to educate the world, that they may avoid such devastation.
Covid May Disappoint, But We Will Never Forget.
Though earthquakes tremble and tsunamis ruin,
When nuclear power plants crumble, and Covid looks to do us in,
The human spirit will climb out of the ash,
With fists clenched and head held high,
& with the world in one voice shout,
Together we rise!
As all eyes are on Japan during the 2021 Olympics, remember 2011. Honor Fukushima’s heroic ten years of determination. Celebrate their triumph over devastation, and in the unifying Olympic spirit, give Fukushima a reason to smile. Witness their journey.