Exactly one year ago today, the three part disaster of an earthquake, tsunami, and multi-reactor meltdown devastated Japan’s population, infrastructure and economy. On March 11, 2011, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in Japan (a 9.0) occurred about 40 miles off the coast of Tohoku. This earthquake caused a tsunami which crashed into the northeast coast of Honshu (Japan’s largest island) and also caused a meltdown in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This disaster ravaged the country structurally, personally, and economically; and Japan needs your tourism to help rebuild.
Damages to Japan’s Population and Infrastructure
The damage to Japan’s population and infrastructure by the tsunami in particular was enormous. 15,850 people died. 300,000 houses were destroyed, 600,000 buildings were damaged, and entire villages were washed away. The World Bank estimates that the disaster cost the Japanese economy $200 billion USD, making it the most expensive natural disaster in history.
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
The Tohoku 9.0 Earthquake also triggered a multi-reactor meltdown in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Cleaning up these meltdowns will take 30-40 years. In their aftermath, 49 out of Japan’s 54 nuclear power plants have been shut down (the other 5 will be shut down in a couple months). The Japanese government has also established a No-Entry Zone around the Fukushima reactor, which bans people from coming within 12 miles in any direction. This has displaced 80,000 people, and it will be 20 years before this land is inhabitable for humans again.
Impact on Japan’s Ski Industry
While the places directly impacted by the disaster have been devastated, the vast majority of ski resorts and ski infrastructure in Japan were left completely unharmed. However, due primarily to exaggerated media coverage and unfounded fears by Western skiers, the ski industry has felt an enormous negative economic impact. Almost every ski resort and ski town in Japan has less visitors this year than last, and many of them significantly so.
What Can You Do To Help?
In my opinion, the best way to help Japan right now is to come and visit. What Japan most needs right now is help stimulating the economy, and your tourism dollars are the perfect ingredient. Besides, if you haven’t noticed, the skiing is really good over here – so this one works out pretty well for you, too.
If you are instead interested in donation money directly to aid organizations helping with the disaster here, consider Red Cross Japan. Or, look into any of the countless NGOs who are helping – but do your research first!
For more information on the earthquake, tsunami, and reactor meltdown in Japan, review the following sources: