July 21, 2011 By TOMO HIRAI Nichi Bei Weekly
The great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami ravaged the eastern shoreline of Japan while many in the United States were asleep on March 11. Japan had been prepared for earthquakes and tsunami, a fact of life living on an island nation on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, but nothing of this caliber.
The earthquake struck off the coast of Sendai, a major port city in Miyagi Prefecture on the northeastern portion of the nation. The violent shaking was recorded at a magnitude of 9.0 and caused damage even in the nation’s capital of Tokyo — more than 200 miles away.
The earthquake, now considered among one of the world’s four most severe earthquakes to be recorded since 1900 and the worst in Japan’s modern history, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, had done limited damage to the country. However, the onslaught of a massive tsunami brought true destruction.
The tsunami rose as high as 40 meters high (131.2 feet) in height and traveled as far as 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) inland according to Kyodo News, sweeping away cars, boats, homes and lives.
As of July 16, more than 15,000 people have been confirmed dead and 5,000 more remain missing, according to the National Police Agency of Japan. While many who have family outside of the affected areas have moved out, others remain stranded in evacuation shelters.
Takeno (Chiyo) Suzuki, who serves as a coordinator for international relations (CIR) for the Miyagi Prefectural Government in Sendai, said the issues survivors must face have changed since March 11.