Eyewitness accounts of the Japanese tsunami disaster that unfolded on March 11, 2011.
Time Tokyo-based reporter Birmingham and Independent and Chronicle of Higher Education Japan correspondent McNeill bring readers directly into the moment in this action-packed account of the earthquake, tsunami and resulting meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant. In this intense narrative, the authors include stories of fishermen who survived by sailing their boats into the oncoming tsunami waves, teachers who raced to get their students to high ground, and plant workers, bound by a sense of duty and honor, who returned to the melting and highly radioactive nuclear facility to help cool overheating fuel rods. The authors also point out some of the major mistakes that cost hundreds of lives: the evacuation centers that were not beyond the reach of the gigantic tsunami, the sea walls that funneled wave action onto unprotected sites and the general air of forgetfulness that pervaded the region even though tsunamis are not uncommon in Japan. “Each generation builds stone monuments at the highest point of the tsunami that struck their homes,” write the authors, “then forgets their lessons; their faded stone lettering a metaphor for collective amnesia.” Unfortunately for thousands, there are no homes left to mark this tsunami event. Most disturbing of all are the accounts of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the range of misinformation that pervaded the media, including inaccurate accounts of the extent of the damage. The authors also include moving accounts of survivors honoring the dead despite the lack of vehicles to transport bodies, crematoriums to burn them, or urns to hold the ashes.
Harrowing, sensitive stories of heroism during one of the most traumatic natural disasters in Japanese history.