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Miso Hungry Podcast

Episode 9: One Year After the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami


It’s been a year since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Japan, on March 11, 2011.

But did you know that the region hit was the 2nd largest food production region in Japan?

Tohoku is one of Japan’s major seafood producing regions with a number of fishing ports being home to deepwater and tuna fishing fleets. The region suffered widespread damage to its fishing industry, which in some areas could take years to recover.

Tohoku made up 20% of Japan’s fisheries production. Many processing plants were destroyed by the tsunami and many fishing boats were destroyed in the ports. Many fishermen and fishery processing workers died.

Even one year later, they still have problems landing fish in Tohoku as many ports are damaged and not fully working. Those fishing ports that are open still face numerous problems as the storage and processing plants that were damaged or destroyed still have to be repaired or rebuilt.

Debris from the tsunami, estimated as tens of millions of tons, is still floating off the Tohoku coast and washing up at ports. The debris is floating dangerously in shipping lanes and blocking ports.

The nuclear crisis caused many consumers to stop eating seafood and other products from these regions, fearing they were contaminated and could cause cancer if eaten. Restoring public confidence will be difficult, but necessary in rebuilding the region’s industry.

In March 2011, Japanese officials announced that “radioactive iodine-131 exceeding safety limits for infants had been detected at 18 water-purification plants in Tokyo and five other prefectures.” As of July 2011, the Japanese government had been unable to control the spread of radioactive material into the nation’s food.

Radioactive material has been detected in a range of produce, including spinach, tea leaves, milk, fish, and beef, up to 200 miles from the nuclear plant.

Inside the 12-mile evacuation zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant, all farming has been abandoned.

As of February 2012, the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is still leaking radiaton and areas surrounding it could remain uninhabitable for decades due to high radiation. It could take “more than 20 years before residents could safely return to areas with current radiation readings of 200 millisieverts per year, and a decade for areas at 100 millisieverts per year”

Even today, more than 160,000 people remain displaced – many of these people may never be able to return to their homes.

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Japan still needs our help! Here are a few ways you can help out:

What else can we do?

  • Stay educated
  • Attend events to benefit the region
  • TRAVEL TO JAPAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Elizabeth T Mar 8, 2012 at 11:40am
    I love listening to your podcasts during my commute to/from work. However, not even a minute into this one, I knew I had to pause and listen to something else. I can make myself cry seemingly on demand just thinking of sad incidents, and I was NOT about to cry in public! I still look forward to listening to the coverage in this episode, but in a more private setting ;) The Japanese people are very strong and resilient, especially in times of distress. Let us take this time to remember the long, arduous journey they've been through over the last year in recovering from this disaster.

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