WBEZ | Tsunami http://www.wbez.org/tags/tsunami Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Flight 882: Returning Chicagoans reflect on experiences during Japan's earthquake http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-18/flight-882-returning-chicagoans-reflect-experiences-during-japans-earthq <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-18/AP110312114280.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today marks the one week anniversary of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. This past week, Chicago media swarmed O&rsquo;Hare airport to grab interviews and sound bites from people returning from Japan. The first flight (United 882) arrived from Tokyo on Saturday March 12th.&nbsp;</p> <p>Three passengers from that flight avoided the flashing bulbs and video cameras to reunite with their families. Erica McNamara, Elizabeth Gomez and Bob Blackburn were all part of the Rotary International Group Study Exchange that took Chicagoans to Tokyo for a full month. Their last day in Tokyo was Friday March 11th, the day of the earthquake.</p> <p>They experienced the quake from their hotel, and they traveled back to Chicago the next day. &nbsp;All three have spent this week acclimating themselves back into the daily grind - returning to their homes, their jobs and their lives - miles away from Tokyo Japan.</p><p>Now that the travelers have had time to reflect on the events of last Friday, they&rsquo;ve opened up to tell their stories.</p><p><em>This piece was produced by WBEZ&rsquo;s Justin Kaufmann</em></p></p> Fri, 18 Mar 2011 13:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-18/flight-882-returning-chicagoans-reflect-experiences-during-japans-earthq The fate of Illinois' nuclear economy http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-17/fate-illinois-nuclear-economy-83856 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-17/Illinois nukes Scott Olson Getty.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Worries about nuclear power are rippling across the world as Japan struggles to stave off a potential nuclear meltdown. Earlier in the week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the temporary closure of some of the country&rsquo;s nuclear plants. And China has suspended the approval of new nuclear plants until safety standards are revised.<br /><br />Illinois has had a moratorium on new nuclear plants since 1987 but nuclear energy still has a vital presence in the state's economy. Illinois has more reactors than any other state and about half of the its electricity is powered by nuclear plants.<br /><br />So as governments here and abroad start to weigh the risks and benefits of nuclear energy, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> spoke to <em>Chicago Tribune's</em><a target="_blank" href="http://bio.tribune.com/michaelhawthorne"> Michael Hawthorne</a> about the future of nuclear energy in the state.</p></p> Thu, 17 Mar 2011 13:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-17/fate-illinois-nuclear-economy-83856 Travel to Japan slows after quake http://www.wbez.org/story/earthquake/travel-japan-slows-after-quake <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-16/IMG_0814.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Demand for travel to Japan has dropped off since the earthquake. And there are new fears today about a possible nuclear disaster near the capital city. But that didn't stop some passengers at O'Hare International Airport from boarding a plane to Tokyo this afternoon.<br /><br />There was a steady stream of travelers coming from Japan at O'Hare. But travel going the other way was more like a trickle.<br /><br />Dennis Crawford was one of the people headed to Japan today. He's in the U.S. Navy, and he was anxious to help with the cleanup, and to see his friends and fiance.</p><p>&quot;She's scared and it's hard, it's very hard, but we just keep going, that's all you can do,&quot; he said.<br /><br />His father, also named Dennis, came to see him off.</p><p>&quot;I have my doubts, but God will be with him, and that's all he has over there. I can't be there,&quot;&nbsp;he said. &quot;God will take care of him. And he knows what he's doing, so he's a pretty good boy.&quot;<br /><br />United and Continental Airlines say there's been a &quot;measurable&quot; decrease in travel from the U.S. to Japan.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 16 Mar 2011 21:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/earthquake/travel-japan-slows-after-quake Joyful greetings at airport for families reunited after Japanese earthquake http://www.wbez.org/story/earthquake/joyful-greetings-airport-families-reunited-after-japanese-earthquake <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-16/Nick Nowak and Pamela Stewart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>O'Hare International Airport's is the scene of joyful homecomings as people return from Japan. Pamela Stewart and her family carried a homemade welcome sign as they waited for her son, Nick Nowak, to arrive.&nbsp;He's 26, and was teaching English in Japan to elementary school children when the quake hit. &quot;It's just overwhelming,&quot; Pamela Stewart said. &quot;I am grateful that he is alive and he is well, and I can't wait to see him.&quot; Her husband, Brad, said, &quot;It's been brutal, more so for her because that's her little baby. Anybody that has kids knows, the eight hours we didn't know if he was alive was, that was crazy, I don't wish that on anybody. </p><p>Nowak was teaching and living in the Southern Ibaraki prefecture, which is located about 150 miles from the hardest hit areas in Northeast Japan. Nowak said he's still in shock, and is also worried about friends in Japan. He was considering recontracting with the company who sent him to Japan to teach, but &ldquo;this kind of threw everything away for the time being. Upon arrival, Nowak himself said, &quot;It's nice not having earthquakes, because I was really getting sick and tired of them. The aftershocks just really would not stop. So it's nice to be on stable ground for once.&quot;</p><p>Melissa Popoff is originally from Texas, but was living in Japan with her two young children while her husband was stationed in the Kanagawa Prefecture, about 200 miles from the site impacts. She explained that she was actually preparing to leave Japan, but after the earthquake created major instablities at the Daiichi power plant, her husband told her to go back to the U.S. out of concern for potential radiation exposure. He is scheduled to stay in Japan until June, &ldquo;And I think part of me isn&rsquo;t really going to be here fully until my husband gets back,&rdquo; he noted.</p><p>But some residents of Japan, like Yuho Kokubu are arriving in the U.S. uncertain they should have left in the first place. No matter their different experiences, Nowak, Popoff, and Kokubu all said that they had no idea the extent to which the earthquake, resulting tsunami, and damage to the Daiichi plant had devastated Japan until they returned to the United States. &ldquo;I stayed calm for my kids, but deep down inside, I didn&rsquo;t even know what to expect&hellip;until I got on the internet and started reading everything,&quot; explained Popoff.</p></p> Wed, 16 Mar 2011 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/earthquake/joyful-greetings-airport-families-reunited-after-japanese-earthquake Nuclear information gap spreads doubt, fear in Japan http://www.wbez.org/story/history/2011-03-16/nuclear-information-gap-spreads-doubt-fear-83801 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/primeminister_6587347.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The uncertainty that has gripped Japan in the days since its nuclear crisis began is erupting into public and official anger over the lack of reliable safety information.</p><p>Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan seemed to be speaking for his entire country Tuesday when he met with executives from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. "What the hell is going on?" Kan demanded, according to a report from Japan's Kyodo news agency.</p><p>It's a question many are asking, and not just those living near Japan's compromised reactors in Fukushima, where the plant's operators were desperately trying to use seawater to control overheating nuclear fuel. Fear of the invisible threat of radiation exposure is spreading, but answers and trust are harder to come by.</p><p>"TEPCO answered the first question — is the plant shut down and is saltwater going in?" says Harold Denton, a nuclear expert with experience managing the response to a significant nuclear incident. "But they haven't answered the second part of the question: What's escaping? How much? Can they stop it?"</p><p>The lack of consistent, credible information, and confusing reports about radiation levels around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant, are driving public anxiety. Thousands living near the facility in northeast Japan have begun fleeing the area, ignoring government warnings to stay indoors with their windows closed.</p><p>"What's missing in all of this is some sort of credible briefing that would tell everyone what's really going on," Denton says.</p><p><strong>Lessons Learned</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Denton is intimately familiar with the importance of putting out timely and accurate information during an unprecedented crisis. He was the senior Nuclear Regulatory Commission official sent by President Jimmy Carter to monitor the response to the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pa. The experience, Denton said, had its low points — including a misinterpreted radiation report that almost triggered an unnecessary mass evacuation.</p><p>Any unfolding crisis of the magnitude of Three Mile Island and the current situation in Japan requires managing information and politics, as well as the potential for public panic. There is the hardware issue, in terms of what is physically happening in the plant. And there's the equally important public communications issue.</p><p>Denton says he learned that in Pennsylvania more than three decades ago. U.S. nuclear regulators "did not treat emergency preparedness before Three Mile Island as anything more than a building-facility hardware issue," Denton says. "Not until TMI did we realize that the existence of a workable, demonstrable emergency communication plan was a necessary part of safety."</p><p>John Ullyot reaffirmed those lessons when he helped assemble a 2008 report for the Senate Homeland Security Committee on how to handle communications in the event of a different kind of nuclear incident — an assault by terrorists using radioactive material. Ullyot, a senior communication consultant in the Washington office of Hill & Knowlton, says he was struck by two major findings: People potentially affected by disasters or attacks want to know all the information available, good and bad; and they want to hear it from a local official — not the president or a Cabinet secretary, but someone who would also be directly affected by the incident.</p><p>Ullyot also says the public wants the information early, and they want it to be accurate: "More than 80 percent said they want to know the full extent of the problem with no sugar coating, so they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families."</p><p>Disaster briefings also need to be "candid, frequent, informal and direct," he says. "But the key is credibility. If someone says one thing, and it turns out not to be the case, there is no way to break through the rumor and chatter out there."<strong></strong></p><p><strong>Recovering From Missteps</strong></p><p>For Dick Thornburgh, Three Mile Island was a "searing first experience." He was just 72 days into his first term as Pennsylvania governor when the incident began to unfold. He says the plant owner and operators initially told him that "all the systems had worked, and there was no danger." And Thornburgh relayed that information to anxious Pennsylvania residents.</p><p>"That was clearly a misrepresentation, as our own engineers and nuclear regulatory people could see at the site," says Thornburgh, who later served as attorney general under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. "Clearly I was a lot more skeptical after that. ... If you pass on some bad information, you better get out and get in front of it."</p><p>Ironically, Thornburgh says admitting that he had put out bad information ultimately helped his credibility.</p><p>Denton helped, too. Thornburgh described the NRC official as a scientist with a knack for putting "nuclear speak" into plain English.</p><p>"He had a very disarming manner — a North Carolinian with a Southern drawl — and he'd talk to anybody who was covering that event," the former governor says. "We didn't know the technology, and we didn't have any particular skill at translating nuclear speak. He could."</p><p>The governor and Denton began holding daily news briefings — and Thornburgh says the combination of scientist and elected official seemed to give their appearances extra credibility.</p><p>While criticized for early missteps, Thornburgh says the crisis at Three Mile Island strengthened his administration — and left him with three lessons:</p><p><ul></p><p><li>Develop an accurate picture of what's going on, and do not be swayed by conflicting advice and rumors from "experts" with their own agendas.</li></p><p><li>Don't become a conduit for every rumor and accusation.</li></p><p><li>And once you have an accurate picture, share it with the public so they can make a decision on what to do.</li></p><p></ul></p><p>"I'm very sympathetic to Japanese officials and executives," Thornburgh says. "To be honest, we really didn't have a firm handle on Three Mile Island until President Carter dispatched Harold Denton."</p><p>"The public can handle news, good and bad, so long as they are confident in the source," he adds.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>'I Cannot Believe It'</strong></p><p>That kind of confidence appears to be missing in Japan, where each new report of an explosion or a fire at the Fukushima plant and conflicting details about the extent of radiation leaks seems to be testing the public's trust.</p><p>The government has ordered those within 12 miles of the Fukushima plant to evacuate, while urging those in a 19-mile radius to stay put.</p><p>But many residents from a far wider area ignored the recommendations to stay indoors and were fleeing in lines of cars that stretched to the horizon.</p><p>"According to the news, the government said just live inside the house," one woman from Koriyama, 40 miles west of the plant, told NPR on Tuesday. "But I cannot believe it." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1300286845?&gn=Nuclear+Information+Gap+Spreads+Doubt%2C+Fear&ev=event2&ch=134454848&h1=Japan+In+Crisis,History,Media,Politics,World,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=134573800&c7=1020&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1020&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110316&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=134454848,134454848&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 16 Mar 2011 08:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/history/2011-03-16/nuclear-information-gap-spreads-doubt-fear-83801 Japanese tsunami threatens to delay production at Mitsubishi's Illinois plant http://www.wbez.org/story/auto-industry/japanese-tsunami-threatens-delay-production-mitsubishis-illinois-plant <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-15/Mitsubishi_Getty_Tim Boyle.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Officials at the Mitsubishi Motors North America plant in central Illinois say they have enough parts to keep making cars for another two weeks but they're awaiting word on whether Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami could lead to production disruptions.</p><p>Mitsubishi Motors North America spokesman Dan Irvin told The (Bloomington) Pantagraph that the production hubs of the firm's parent company, Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Motors, weren't affected by the disaster. But Irvin says the North American subsidiary is still waiting for updates from companies that supply some parts for use at the plant in Normal. </p><p>The plant produces about 34,000 vehicles a year and employs more than 1,000 people.</p></p> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 21:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/auto-industry/japanese-tsunami-threatens-delay-production-mitsubishis-illinois-plant Japan struggles to control nuclear crisis http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-15/japan-struggles-control-nuclear-crisis-83737 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-15/110111424.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The death toll following Japan&rsquo;s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami has reached 3,400 and is expected to rise. Meanwhile, the nuclear crisis continues to unfold at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the northeast. There have been three explosions and one fire at the plant since Friday&rsquo;s earthquake, which damaged Fukushima&rsquo;s cooling systems. According to the Japanese government, radiation levels have fallen since a spike this morning, but the crisis is not over. Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of the Japanese environment group <a target="_blank" href="http://www.greenaction-japan.org/modules/entop2/">Green Action</a>, will give us a sense of where things are headed with Japan's nuclear crisis.</p></p> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 16:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-15/japan-struggles-control-nuclear-crisis-83737 Chicago's Japanese community organizes relief effort, shares stories http://www.wbez.org/story/earthquake/chicagos-japanese-community-organizes-relief-effort-shares-stories <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-15/japan quake survivors - AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Japanese groups across the Chicago region are organizing relief efforts following a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan late last week. Organizers hope to help Japan recover &ndash; even as they themselves are still trying to locate family and friends.</p><p><em>NOTE:&nbsp;To donate to relief efforts, check out the list of local fund drives at the end of the story.</em></p><p>When Rev. Yugo Kobari saw the tsunami pictured on TV, at first, he thought he was watching a movie preview. Then he realized the images of destruction hitting his home country were real.</p><p>&quot;I never ever seen those kind of horrible tragedy, massive earthquake, never ever had. It broke my heart,&quot;&nbsp;Rev. Kobari said.</p><p>Kobari, who leads the Chicago Japanese Mission Church, spent two days trying to reach family in Japan. His siblings survived, and so did his mother. But an uncle, who&rsquo;s a fisherman, is believed dead.</p><p>&quot;My brother&rsquo;s house and sister&rsquo;s house (were) almost destroyed,&quot; he said.</p><p>The danger isn&rsquo;t over. His mother lives about 45 miles from a nuclear power plant that&rsquo;s in danger of melting down.</p><p>&quot;I asked them, can I go over there? They said if you come by yourself, you cannot do anything. I want to help them, but I cannot do anything.&quot;</p><p>His family told him all he can do is pray. So Kobari led prayer services Sunday, and will do so again Wednesday. His congregation also collected money. Now he&rsquo;s beginning to organize a drive for food and blankets.</p><p>&quot;This is my request to you that pray for Japan for a while,&quot;&nbsp;the pastor said.</p><p>Efforts like this are happening across the area. The Japan America Society of Chicago, the Japanese American Service Committee and the Japanese American Citizens League are all collecting money or plan to.</p><p>So is the Japanese Chamber of Commerce &amp; Industry of Chicago. Spokesman Andrew St. John said Japan&rsquo;s economy already was in rough shape before the disaster.</p><p>&quot;It demolished things to the point where even basic infrastructure is gone,&quot;&nbsp;St. John said. &quot;So the money will not only be used to help the relief efforts. But it will be used to keep people alive, and connect people with their families again and connect people back to work, jobs will be rebuilt.&quot;</p><p>The chamber&rsquo;s Manager, Miki Yonekura, grew up in an area devastated by the tsunami. She still hasn&rsquo;t heard from her sister, brother-in-law and their three children. Her parents and brother are OK.</p><p>Yonekura said when the earthquake hit, her brother knew there was danger of a tsunami. He immediately headed out to get his daughter.&nbsp;</p><div>&quot;He heard a lot of noise and people honking at him and yelling,&nbsp; 'Don&rsquo;t go there, don&rsquo;t go there.' He looked to his left side and saw a huge wave was beaching,&quot; Yonekura said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Her brother made it to high ground, and then resumed his search. On the way, he saw bodies of adults and small children. He arrived at his daughter&rsquo;s school, to find it empty. He went from shelter to shelter before he found her, safe.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Now they&rsquo;re staying in their parents&rsquo; partially destroyed home.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There is a small room actually they were able to lay down, so instead of their going to the shelter, they can keep their privacy in their broken house,&quot;&nbsp;Yonekura said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She has some idea how difficult this is. She used to live in New Orleans. She and her husband lost their home to Hurricane Katrina.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They found the strength to rebuild here in the Chicago area. She&rsquo;s hoping her family in Japan can do the same.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;<em>You can donate to relief funds through these local groups:</em></p><p><a href="http://www.jaschicago.org/en/home/default.aspx">Japan America Society of Chicago</a></p><p><a href="http://www.jasc-chicago.org/Japan_Earthquake_Relief_Fund_form_1page.pdf">Japanese American Service Committee</a></p><p><a href="http://www.jacl.org/">Japanese American Citizens League</a></p><p><a href="http://www.jccc-chi.org/en/index.asp">Japanese Chamber of Commerce &amp; Industry of Chicago </a></p><p><a href="http://www.juf.org/news/world.aspx?id=72834&amp;source=home">Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago</a></p><p><a href="http://www.ciogc.org/">&nbsp;The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 00:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/earthquake/chicagos-japanese-community-organizes-relief-effort-shares-stories Stunned Japan struggles to bind its wounds http://www.wbez.org/story/asia/2011-03-14/stunned-japan-struggles-bind-its-wounds-83722 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/japan_house_wide_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Powerful aftershocks hampered rescue efforts and deliveries of humanitarian aid to earthquake-stricken Japan Tuesday. Millions of survivors endured a fourth night without water, food or heat in near-freezing temperatures along the devastated eastern coast.</p><p>The magnitude 8.9 quake and the giant waves that hit Friday pulverized much of northeastern Miyagi prefecture, where entire towns were essentially wiped out, and cars borne up by the force of the tsunami teetered on the roofs of buildings.</p><p>"There is so much debris, it is going to take weeks if not months to sift through it," NPR's Rob Gifford reported from the area.</p><p>At a makeshift evacuation shelter in Sendai — the city nearest the epicenter — Gifford said 3,000 people were crammed into a school with only basic toilets and not much else. "Really, the Japanese people have borne up very well considering the magnitude of this disaster," he said.</p><p><strong>More Than 10,000 Feared Dead</strong></p><p>The official death toll stood at more than 1,800, but the true number of dead is likely to be far higher. In Miyagi prefecture, which took the full force of the tsunami, a police official said 1,000 bodies were found scattered along the coastline Monday. The prefecture's police chief told NPR that more than 10,000 people are believed dead in his province alone.</p><p>Six teams of search dogs from Los Angeles arrived at Misawa Air Base in Hokkaido in northern Japan on Monday en route to the quake zone.</p><p>The dogs, trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF), were dispatched to find live victims, conscious or unconscious, in the debris left by the earthquake and tsunami.</p><p>Search parties arrived in the town of Soma, the worst-hit part in Fukushima prefecture, for the first time since the disaster hit. Ambulances stood by, and body bags were laid out in an area cleared of debris, as firefighters used hand picks and chain saws to clear the jumble of broken timber, plastic sheets, roofs, sludge, twisted cars, tangled power lines and household goods.</p><p>The coast has been hit by more than 150 aftershocks since Friday.</p><p>The Japanese Meteorological Agency on Sunday said there was a 70 percent chance of a magnitude 7.0 aftershock in the next three days. The agency also revised its estimate of the strength of the original quake to 9.0 from 8.8, but the U.S. Geological Survey's assessment remained at 8.9.</p><p>Hajime Sato, a government official in hard-hit Iwate prefecture, said body bags and coffins were in such short supply that the government may turn to foreign funeral homes for help.</p><p>"We have requested funeral homes across the nation to send us many body bags and coffins. But we simply don't have enough," he told The Associated Press. "We just did not expect such a thing to happen. It's just overwhelming."</p><p>To speed up funerals, the Japanese government said Monday that it was waiving the requirement to get permission from local authorities before going ahead with cremations.</p><p><strong>Officials Say Aid Slow To Reach Disaster Zones </strong></p><p>The twin disasters have caused unimaginable deprivation for people of this industrialized country, which has not seen such hardships since World War II. In many areas, there is no running water, no power and four- to five-hour waits for gasoline. People are suppressing hunger with instant noodles or rice balls while dealing with the loss of loved ones and homes.</p><p>"People are surviving on little food and water. Things are simply not coming," Sato said. He added that authorities were receiving just 10 percent of the food and other supplies they need.</p><p>Japan has dispatched 100,000 troops to spearhead the aid effort, along with 120,000 blankets and bottles of water and 29,000 gallons of gasoline plus food to the affected areas. Nearly 1.5 million households had gone without water since the quake struck.</p><p>The American aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrived in the region last week and was dispatching helicopters to deliver food and water in Miyagi. According to public broadcaster NHK, some 310,000 people were living in emergency shelters or with relatives, and an additional 24,000 people were stranded.</p><p>Some 1.9 million households were still without electricity, which officials said will take days to restore. Tokyo Electric Power called for people to try to limit electricity use, but it held off on imposing three-hour, rolling blackouts Monday intended to help make up for a severe shortfall after the quake and tsunami rendered some nuclear plants inoperable.</p><p>Many regional train lines were suspended or operating on a limited schedule to help reduce the power load.</p><p><strong>'We've Lost Everything'</strong></p><p>Yumi Takano was in her home in the seaside town of Agahara near Sendai when the quake struck. Her house withstood the violent shaking, but she said she knew she had to act quickly. Twenty-six minutes later, the tsunami demolished her town.</p><p>"I grabbed my neighbor, we both jumped into the car, and we were out of there within 15 minutes. Anyone who waited longer was swept away," she told NPR.</p><p>Takano's neighbor, Miyuki Arimatsu, said she "lost everything — the house, the car, everything," but at least she got out alive.</p><p>Makato Ito wasn't so lucky. He lost seven members of his extended family and has been wandering in a daze at evacuation centers looking for them.</p><p>"I'm giving up hope," said Hajime Watanabe, 38, a construction industry worker, who was the first in line at a closed gas station in Sendai, told the AP. Just then, an emergency worker came over and told him that if the station opens at all, it would pump gasoline only to emergency teams and essential government workers.</p><p>"I never imagined we would be in such a situation," Watanabe said. "I had a good life before. Now we have nothing. No gas, no electricity, no water."</p><p>Takashi Furuma, a seismologist at Tokyo University, said Japan wasn't caught off-guard by the quake, but that it does show the limits of man's capabilities and the need for some humility and respect for nature.</p><p>"The earthquake was much bigger than what we expected. That's why the damage was so great," Furuma told NPR. "This shows that from the great perspective of nature and Earth, our knowledge is minuscule.</p><p>"We don't know how long it will take for the economy to recover and for us to rebuild [from this quake]. But we must not be depressed or devastated by this. We must learn valuable lessons from it in order to prepare for the next earthquake," he said.</p><p><strong>Economic Impact</strong></p><p>The Bank of Japan, the country's central bank, pumped another 5 trillion yen ($61.2 billion) into the financial system Tuesday to quell fears that Japan's banks could be overwhelmed by the impact of the disaster.</p><p>The injection comes a day after the central bank fed a record 15 trillion yen into money markets and eased monetary policy to support the economy.</p><p>The injections have helped stabilize currency markets. But stock markets dived for a second day as investors unloaded assets on escalating worries of a nuclear crisis. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average shed 6.5 percent to 8,999.73 — its lowest level in four months. The decline wiped out this year's gains.</p><p>Preliminary estimates showed losses from the catastrophe could run into the tens of billions of dollars as major companies — including carmakers Toyota, Honda and Nissan — are forced to idle production plants.</p><p>The disaster also crippled factories that produce flash memory chips used in consumer electronics such as MP3 players, mobile phones and computers.</p><p>Paul Romano, the chief operating officer of U.S.-based Fusion Trade Inc., a company that buys and sells electronic components, said the disruption in the supply chain from Japan "may slow down production, waiting for chips."</p><p>The manufacturers are "not going to be able to produce everything they've committed to produce. So people are going to have to wait a little bit longer for products," Romano told NPR.</p><p>But some economists say Friday's quake may have less of an economic impact than Japan's last major temblor, the 1995 Kobe quake.</p><p>"The northeast region is not as much of a man hub as western Japan, so that might contribute to the argument that the economic impact in the long term might not be as great," said Nicholas Szechenyi, a Japan specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.</p><p>Japan's economy has been ailing for 20 years, barely managing to eke out weak growth between slowdowns. It is saddled by a massive public debt that, at 200 percent of gross domestic product, is the biggest among industrialized nations.</p><p>Preliminary estimates put repair costs from the earthquake and tsunami in the tens of billions of dollars — a huge blow for an already fragile economy that lost its place as the world's No. 2 to China last year.</p><p><em>With reporting from NPR's Rob Gifford in Sendai, Anthony Kuhn in Tokyo, Tom Gjelten and Joe Palca in Washington, D.C., and freelancers Danielle Karson in Washington and Doualy Xaykaothao near Fukushima. Material from The Associated Press was used in this story.</em> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. </p> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 00:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/asia/2011-03-14/stunned-japan-struggles-bind-its-wounds-83722 Interfaith effort to aid Japan http://www.wbez.org/story/earthquake/interfaith-effort-aid-japan <p><p>An interfaith effort to provide relief funds to Japan is gearing up across the Chicago region.</p><div>Several Japanese groups here are collecting money, along with the Red Cross. Religious groups have joined that effort. The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago is taking donations. So is the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.<br /><br />&quot;We do not want to just focus on Muslim-centric countries or Muslim issues,&quot; said communications director Kiran Ansari. &quot;When a country is hurting, we have to do whatever we can to rally support in Chicago and send it to Japan as soon as possible.&quot;<br /><br />Ansari said the council's partner agencies have food and medical teams on the ground and more on the way. She said it's especially urgent to donate now when the money can still help find survivors.<br /><br />The death toll in Japan is still rising. Many survivors reportedly are living without running water or heat.<br /><br />&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 14 Mar 2011 20:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/earthquake/interfaith-effort-aid-japan