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    Asahi newspaper has been reporting on the stories of survivors of the March 11th great Sendai earthquake.  One interesting fact is that many fishermen and those who were working out at sea survived the Tsunami.  In Iwate ken, Ofuna city, a fisherman named Kashiwazaki was working a little out to the sea, taking care of his seaweed farm. He realized that
the earthquake was different from usual.  Fortunately his wife and son were with him in the boat.  He immediately pushed their boat into deeper sea and waited for the Tsunami at a point where the water depth was ~70 meters.        
    After 15 minutes, the Tsunami came but Kashiwazaki said, “The entire boat must have been lifted as the water level rose so we didn’t even feel anything.”  Another fisherman Michishita and his father went through the same experience on a 3 ton fishing boat.  Michishita said that he remembered the old wisdom he has heard from a long time ago, “Tsunami does not get high at deep sea.”  Likewise his father heard from a senior fisherman that he had survived a huge Tsunami in 1933 because he headed out to the sea.  Given these thoughts, they also pushed their boat deeper into the sea, a few kilometers away from the fishing harbor. Although he didn’t realize that the boat went over the Tsunami, when he looked back, he saw the huge forming waves at the fishing harbor.
    The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries made guidelines for people after the Fukuoka earthquake in
2005  that urged people to escape to sea where the water depth is deeper than 50 meters if escaping to sea is faster than escaping to land.
    A video dated March 18th 2011 is posted below of the experiences of the Japanese coast guard who found their ship going over the giant tsunami.  A longer version is available at
Courtesy of alice.d (CC 2.0)
The Kanto region of Tokyo continues to experience planned blackouts.  Conflicts are brewing between organizations and institutions regarding how they should continue their activities in light of such electricity problems.  An example is the baseball industry.  The baseball season is starting again in Japan. After the disaster, although Pacific League decided that they will postpone the season opening to April 12th instead of March 25th, but the Central League will start as it had been planned.  This means that a game between Giants and Bay Stars will be held in Tokyo Dome (home of the Yomiuri Giants) on the 25th. It is an in-door stadium with 55,000 seats, requiring some 50,000 to 60,000 kilowatts of electricity on a game day. To put this number into perspective, it equals the amount of electricity needed by approximately 6,000 households.
    The Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, Banri Kaieda, told the Yomiuri Giants that it would be helpful
if the team could have a game elsewhere far from the Kanto area so it doesn't stretch the demands of electricity.
Moreover, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology requested that Nippon Professional
Baseball (NPB) to refrain from night games within the areas that have a shortage of electricity.  Even the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association requested a NPB postponement or at least reconsideration of holding night games.
    Despite these objections, the two teams decided to have the game as planned.  It's unclear what effect this would have on the fans - on the one hand many people may welcome the respite provided by the professional ball players, on the other hand many may resent the seemingly wanton use of electricity during a crisis.

This little town in the Miyagi prefecture numbering some 17,500 residents in 2008 was entirely destroyed by the great quake and subsequent tsunami.  The latest reports indicate that 5,000 have died and some 9,000 residents remain missing - many are presumed dead.  In short, an unbelievable 80% of the town has seemingly perished.  The survivors are now in neighboring towns in shelters and refugee centers.  Most are living inside school gymnasiums and other public buildings, lacking running water, electricity, and basic food supplies.  The flu is also running rampant in these tight quarters, a disease that the youthful shrug off but is deadly to the elderly.  Local resources are being stretched tight by the refugee situation suggesting a continuing urgency in humanitarian operations.

1.4 million people are estimated to be without access to clean water - NHK gave some tips on how to use rain water to survive.  People called in to ask the television channel what they should do if they can't flush toilets.

Latest figures show the death toll at ~3600, missing ~7700, and refugees ~400,000. 

There's a lot of attention being paid to the nuclear crisis, for better or worse, it's detracting from the immediate needs of people in the affected area.  Only so much cognitive capacity to absorb this information.
New York Times has an article on how foreign aid can help or hinder the effort to recover from the earthquake and rebuild the Tohoku region.  Currently the U.S. military is the only major presence on the ground, although small groups of NGOs have arrived, and financial aid has been transferred from American Red Cross to the Japanese Red Cross.  In the near future, those who wish to donate foreign aid will have to struggle with defining their roles in this wealthy, industrial and 1st world nation.


The most current estimates of the toll give over 3000 dead, 6000 missing, and 300,000 displaced refugees.  The tsunami seems to be washing bodies back onto land where they are just being discovered.  Many think that the high number of missing people is because they've been washed out to sea.  The refugees are facing a crisis in not only food and water, but because of a large fraction of elderly, also medical equipment and materials such as dialysis supplies, pain killers, insulin, basically things for all sorts of chronic illnesses.

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Edano, the chief cabinet secretary under Prime Minister Kan, has been doing an admirable job communicating the events surrounding the emergency at the Daiichi Fukushima reactors.  The latest news was delivered with an appeal toward calm, saying that radiation measurements show no containment breach and no major change since yesterday despite the 3rd explosion.  The explosion is thought to be due to hydrogen gas build-up, much like the previous cases.  What is alarming though is that some 800 workers had been evacuated from the premises because of radiation exposure fears, leaving only about 50 to fight the build-up.  Whether this is due to their accumulated dosage or some spike in radiation that wasn't communicated is unclear.
You can read more  here - ReliefWeb is a great centralized source of updated news.

James White is an artist and designer who produced the now-iconic t-shirt and poster.  The center is the red sun of the Japanese flag, except it shows thin white lines symbolizing cracks of the great earthquake.  He donated all proceeds to charities that are working in Japan.  See more of his work here:
And his blog which lists some of the humanitarian organizations:
Basic website has been set up with the main page being the list of humanitarian agencies who are accepting donations and have the capacity to conduct work on the ground (except Global Giving).