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Dealing with Disasters in Japan

July 16, 2009

Background: For most Americans, more specifically Americans who come from states not on the Pacific Coast, the most frightening part of living in Japan is an Earthquake. Most people when they travel to Japan experience earthquakes for the first time, and wonder just how fragile the land they’re standing on is. The biggest Earthquake I experienced was a 5+, and it shut down the subway for about 2 hours leaving 2-3 million commuters stranded.

Earthquakes and natural disasters are ubiquitous throughout Japanese media and movies. Dealing with disasters is part of their lives, in particular earthquakes, but also from today’s news articles other disasters as well. Each newspaper wrote about a different tragedy Japanese people are working to overcome.

Asahi “Mountain Expedition Leads to Disaster for 17 Climbers” On the night of the 16th of July in Japan 16 climbers got stranded on the Tom Rush Mountain in Hokkaido. They were part of an expedition being run by the Amusement Travel Company from Tokyo.

According to a police report, about 3pm the police received a distress call from one of the climber’s cell phones. Due to the heavy snow and cold, the party became unable to continue their descent down the mountain. Contained within the party were 10 50-60 year olds. 2 people were reported to have split from the party and made it down the mountain to get help.

The authorities attempted to do an air rescue but couldn’t get the helicopter off the ground. When the Asahi went to press they were currently attempting to do a ground rescue.

Yomiuri “Save the Passengers on an Emergency Landing! Drill at Haneda Airport” Yesterday the authorities conducted a drill where a plane crashed near Haneda airport, and passengers had to be rescued. In light of the US Airways crash into the Hudson River, the Japanese authorities are making sure they won’t be caught off guard. Speaking from his experience at the plane crash in 1982 at Haneda airport, Doctor Takahashi said “we need to prepare for the worst.” 700 people took part in the drill, where firefighters, doctors, fishermen, and other members of the community had to rescue passengers who had sustained injuries.

Nikkei “We have hope from rebuilding our past – Niigata Earthquake” Two years ago on July 16th in Niigata and Nagano an earthquake erupted that killed 15 people. Today a memorial service was held where people in Kashiwazaki City remembered that tragic day. At 10:13 am, when the earthquake began, a prayer was given for the ones who lost their lives.

A mother who had lost her eldest son during the earthquake said: “Not just today, but each new day we try to approach our lives in the best way we can.”

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