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A moment of silence for 10 years after Japan earthquake/tsunami


19 Aug 2019
I can't believe that it's been ten years since the tsunami that swept over Japan.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing live on the TV at that time, especially on a TV that was about 70 inches as that size was rare to see then (a dime a dozen now). I didn't think it was real, or want to believe it was real, until I was faced with the reality of it on print from the local newspaper which was printed and passed out in the most populous regions / touristy areas of Okinawa in moments.

It looks like bases in Okinawa will be running the tsunami drill alarm for 2 minutes in commemoration. Their announcement states that it'll be heard throughout Okinawa so I am wondering whether it's a combined effort or whether the US is playing it after a moment of silence in respect to Japan.

Does anyone know if the bases in Mainland are doing the same? And whether Japan as a whole will be running the alarms? This is something that I thought would be in the news here to not alarm people when it goes off.
I was just about to start a similar thread. Thanks, @okinawaholic! If you don't mind, I would like to use your thread to post updates on the anniversary events. I am not aware of any official memorial events in our area, but I assume the sirens will be sounded and a moment of silence observed.

Our 3/11 thread here on the forum was "stickied" until the beginning of this year.

On a personal note: it is simply unbelievable that ten years have already passed. I remember that fateful day and the events that unfolded as if it was yesterday.

I was working in Ebisu when the first big one struck at 14:46. The earthquake and the immediate aftershocks were powerful and unnerving. I can still see (and hear) the high-rise buildings and Ebisu Station swaying and squeaking. People from the surrounding buildings evacuated their offices and gathered on the streets. I couldn't reach my wife, because our mobile phones didn't work. She had been recovering from a pelvic fracture at home for some three months and chose that very day to visit her parents in Yokohama - by train and on crutches. I continued working until 18:00, then headed home on my bicycle. I was lucky to be on my rig. Others had to walk home, some of them over 20 kilometres or more. The atmosphere was surreal, with hundreds of thousands of people filling the pavements and streets, heading home silently, calmly and in a surprisingly composed fashion. Only at home, in front of the TV, did I realize the scope of the disaster. What followed was a night of overseas phone calls from family and friends who were much better informed than we were in Japan. That became painfully obvious when the Fukushima Daiichi power plant started to blow up the next day. The rest is history.

Ten years, wow.

If any of our members were in Japan at that time, how did you live through 3/11?
Some families finding solace and comfort after ten years:

Here's an editorial from JT that highlights Japan's lack of preparedness and its poor information dissemination back then.

And another critical piece by Mainichi:

Japan is preparing to mark 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster. The number of fatalities from the disaster, including related deaths, has topped 22,000. Housing and infrastructure development and other such concrete measures have practically been completed, but restoration of the affected areas is only halfway along the road to recovery. In the decade since the disasters, the government has injected 32 trillion yen (roughly $294.11 billion) into restoration. But in many towns, the population declines that posed an issue for them even before the disasters continue to accelerate. More than just a few residents have little actual sense of recovery.

If any of our members were in Japan at that time, how did you live through 3/11?

For me, the earthquake, as powerful as it was, wasn't nearly as stressful as the following days and weeks and months, watching and waiting for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to stabilize. I lived close enough to the office that I could walk home. The earthquakes didn't cause me to suffer any deprivation. We had water and electricity. We had no immediate need for gasoline. The rolling blackouts only marginally affected us. The train shutdown was an inconvenience, but again, I lived nearby my office so it wasn't massively disruptive to me.

But the cascading problems at the nuclear power plants constantly presented new levels of anxiety and existential threat. And because this threat was invisible and incomprehensible, there was no way to feel any kind of relief. People weren't able to understand nuclear physics, so they regurgitated every bit of false information uncritically, with every headline spawning a new conspiracy theory. Those of us who were around probably remember all the breathless predictions about nuclear explosions, leaning (falling) reactor units, boiling reactor pools, Tokyo becoming uninhabitable, etc... It was exhausting at a level that is hard to realize nowadays. The anxiety was refreshed with each aftershock: did the reactors fall down? did the melted cores fall into the groundwater? did any debris crash into the fuel rods? And there were tremors every day for months afterward, so there was no respite other than to try to understand each risk and deal with it as best as one could.

What was weird was that all this was happening against a fragile veneer of normalcy in Tokyo. Starbucks, McDonald's, 7-11 were all open for business as usual. There were potentially deadly winds laden with radioactive cesium etc., blowing over Tokyo, but you could still get your matcha frappuccino if you wanted. Strange days.
If any of our members were in Japan at that time, how did you live through 3/11?
Obviously, I was in Okinawa at the time. However, it was still unknown whether the wave was going to reach us and how big it would be; I think it was expected to be 1-2m which, depending on the approach, would've come up to my front door. Though, it somehow completely passed us and arrived in California.
My father died on 3/11 (22 years ago) so this date is a bad date all around for me.
I'm sorry to hear this and can completely relate, just not with the date.
I remember having a lunch break at the food court near my school (in Hyogo, which is really far away) and suddenly i felt i was moving front back left right, i didn't think it was an earthquake but just thought I was dizzy. Went back to work and decided to lay down wondering why I felt dizzy. When my co-worker came in she showed me what happened. Still had to work and didn't get any other information at that time (as i still had pakka pakka phone as well). First thing when I came home was seeing houses floating and tears in my eyes. The days after were like crazy watching the news realizing that living in Japan means you have to be ready for earthquakes and tsunami's.

Talked to my students about it today, but still got tears in my eyes. (Yes i am too emotional these days 😂)
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