For many people in Japan, the past year felt like a doubly busy year. In 2011, life here seemed to be on hold, waiting for the next earthquake, tsunami or radiation disaster. But by the end of 2012, the regular rhythms, worries and needs of the country started to return to normal. The past year was a year of records, nearly all of them low points.

Nature did seem to give Japan a reprieve in 2012. Despite intense heat and humidity during the summer months, and a 7.3-magnitude earthquake on Dec. 7 that brought back bad memories, what seemed most distressing were the government reports about the 3/11 catastrophe that pinned blame for the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe on human-made, rather than natural, causes.

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