Posted at 09:35 AM ET, 03/17/2011

Japan earthquake, tsunami, nuclear triple disaster affects individuals, regions and the world

Japan continues to reel from the effects of the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear-emergency triple disasters of the past few days. This morning’s Post has reporting across the full spectrum of those affected. In Japan, Chico Harlan tells the story of how the “vibrant city of Tokyo turns somber” through the eyes of local resident Tetsu Hasegwa:

Japan’s government has urged citizens to cut their energy use voluntarily. Hasegawa’s family now sleeps with the heat turned off, despite the winter chill. The lobbies of many office buildings in Tokyo’s financial district are dark. The famous neighborhoods with riotous neon signs now look dim. In just five days, the city’s metabolism has dropped, as if in hibernation, preparing for a long fight ahead.

At work, Hasegawa has trouble concentrating. A TV plays in his boss’s office, and Hasegawa swings by every so often to check the news. He scans the Internet for updates from the Kyodo news agency. He doesn’t think the leaking radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi complex will reach Tokyo, 150 miles south, but after another explosion Tuesday at the plant, he asked his wife and kids to stay indoors for all but one hour each day.

Hasegawa had planned to play tennis with his 16-year-old son this Saturday. On Wednesday, his wife texted him to ask him not to — “because of the radiation.”


(AP Photo/Kyodo News)

More broadly, Japanese citizens throughout the northeast have noticed the tension of the national large scale crises affecting the their local governments and straining available resources:

The military, which has mobilized 100,000 troops for relief work, delivers water in stricken areas, hunts for bodies and has flown risky missions to dump water on a nuclear power plant belching radioactive smoke. In Ishinomaki, soldiers operate from a baseball stadium on dry land.

But the state, overwhelmed by problems, has abdicated some of its most basic duties, some say. “The government is not doing anything. They are not present here,” said Akase Hiroyuki, the principal of Ishinomaki’s Nakazato Primary School. Along with 20 of his teaching staff, he runs a shelter for 1,200 people left homeless and hungry by the tsunami. Classrooms serve as dormitories, and the school’s gymnasium has become a food-distribution center.

One effect worldwide is that markets continue to tumble. From the Japanese Nikkei to Wall Street:

The Standard & Poor’s 500 was off 2 percent for the day and is now down slightly for the year. Its gyrations followed the news from Japan, rising on a report that an emergency power line to one nuclear plant was nearly complete and falling when it was reported that pools of used nuclear fuel were compromised.

Also contributing to the losses were signs of more political turmoil in Bahrain and a weak report on U.S. housing starts.Investors sold stocks and other risky investments — and pushed money into Treasury bonds, viewed as a haven — on fears that Japanese officials will not be able to contain the damage and prevent meltdowns at the nuclear reactors.

By Justin Bank  |  09:35 AM ET, 03/17/2011

 
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