Nearly a year ago, Japan experienced the worst natural disaster in the nation's postwar history. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeast Japan and the resulting massive tsunami ravaged countless coastal communities, sweeping away or destroying thousands of houses and other buildings, roads, bridges, cars, trees, farmlands, and everything else in their paths. The death toll amounted to 15,850 persons and 3,287 remained unaccounted for as of February 16. The tsunami-triggered power outage caused nuclear fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant to melt down and release highly radioactive materials into the environment, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate and seek temporary shelter.
A year later, mountains of debris and other evidence of the destructive force of nature are visible everywhere in the affected region and a no-entry zone remains in effect around the crippled nuclear plant. But signs of hope and recovery can also be seen, demonstrating the remarkable resilience of the people who have survived.
The anniversary will be marked with two events at the Monterey Institute campus:
- Memorial Event on Sunday, March 11, from 6:00PM – 8:00PM, in the Irvine Auditorium.
The program will include a presentation via Skype by Marti McElreath, an American resident in Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture, a small town that was ravaged by the March 11 disaster. There will also be a panel presentation by four MIIS students—Matthew Carpenter, Brian Gueyser, Keitaro Morita, and Kaori Ambo—all of whom have close ties to the Tohoku region.
- Panel Discussion about the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant and its continuing impact on Japan’s energy policy on Tuesday, March 13, from 6:30PM – 8:30PM, also in the Irvine Auditorium.
Among the participants will be Dr. Tatsujiro Suzuki, Vice Chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (connecting from Tokyo via Skype), Dr. Kenji Murakami, Visiting Professor at Tokyo City University, Graduate School (Nuclear Safety Engineering Department) Former Director of Safeguards in Division of Inspections in the Department of Safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, Scientist in Residence, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Director, East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
Both events are free and open to the public, with donations of support for the relief efforts in Shichigahama gladly accepted.