With the 10th anniversary of 3/11 only weeks away, Japan really didn’t need a reminder of the nation’s notorious vulnerability to natural disasters. But that’s what it got on Feb. 13, when a 7.3 magnitude quake struck off Fukushima — apparently an aftershock of the March 11, 2011 megaquake.
Although damage was not on anything like the scale wrought by the tsunami of 3/11, last month’s quake still left its mark on 83 cultural assets across Tohoku, many of which were repaired after the 2011 disasters. One man died after being buried under furniture, while many homes were left without power, and regional shinkansen services were only fully restored 11 days later.
Volunteer centers were set up after the quake, but demand for help from people in the region was patchy. One welfare group in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, said it had not received any requests for aid, although Kyodo reported some elderly residents were apparently unaware of where to turn for assistance.
The Feb. 13 quake also refocused attention on the drawn-out decommissioning process at the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear facility. Plant operator Tepco said that levels of water being used to cool containment vessels at two of the meltdown-hit reactors dropped after last month’s earthquake.
The quake also forced an admission from Tepco that seismometers installed at the plant last March at the behest of Japan’s nuclear watchdog had broken months later but were never replaced.