The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11 left a big scar on the nation in 2011. Yet this year will truly be about recovery, believes Shukan Asahi Geino (Jan. 12) — albeit with the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant continuing to be a concern.
Shigeru Aoyama of Japan’s Independent Institute finds the government’s announcement in December that “a state of cold shutdown” had been reached regarding the three damaged reactors at the plant to be ridiculous given that mere cooling had taken place. “Actual recovery will be marked by Environment Minister Goshi Hosono or representatives from the Safety Committee working inside the nuclear plant premises and monitoring the situation,” says Aoyama. “The reality is that it will take a long time to complete real containment.”
What will happen to nuclear plants in the future?
“Japan will continue to utilize nuclear power plants,” Aoyama continues. “It is likely that Japan-made reactors will be used, not the U.S.-made models like at Fukushima. This will be considered a safer way forward. However, I am not sure how this can be explained rationally.”
As to recovery, something like a “bubble economy” will surface in Tohoku. “Sendai’s Kokubuncho red-light district is booming with both blue- and white- collar male workers,” says the owner of an eatery in the city. “It reminds me of the ’80s. Even girls looking for jobs as bar hostesses are traveling here to find jobs. One hostess is apparently pulling in five million yen a month. It won’t be long to see someone doubling that figure.”
On the other hand, Tohoku is still experiencing aftershocks. Will the Big One come?
Professor Masaaki Kimura of Ryukyu University had offered warnings prior to the earthquake of March 11. He predicts an earthquake exceeding magnitude 6.5 will occur beneath the waters of the Japan Trench. “We expect to see a tsunami develop, centering around Tokyo and extending from Chiba to Okinawa,” the professor says.
Some are speculating a magnitude-8 level quake, adds Shukan Asahi Geino, which is keeping its optimism in check for the foreseeable future. (K.N.)
Source: “Boso oki jishin de M8 Heisei Kanto daishinsai ga okiru hisaichi baburu de gesshu 1000 man yen hosutesu ga shuggen,” Shukan Asahi Geino (Jan. 12, page 51)
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