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Sendai Magnitude 8.9

Northern Japan was hit with an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale.

Image courtesy of US Geological Survey.

Amid the general panic, fires broke out, glass shattered, and the Fukushima nuclear power plant was damaged, causing radiation levels to rise.  This prompted civil authorities to order an emergency evacuation of the nearby area and the US to dispatch technicians and coolant from its nearby military base.  As if that were not enough, the offshore quake (near Sendai) caused a massive tsunami.  Internet-savvy Japanese immediately started using google services, websites and social networks to communicate and coordinate their activities.  Many credit stringent Japanese building standards with reducing the effects of the quake and its aftershocks.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, the anime series that predicted developments along these lines, had a lot to say about suffering through an earthquake in Japan.  Protagonist Mirai started out aloof and annoyed by the occurrences around her – a selfish soul – but was compelled to become sensitive to the needs of others.  The earthquake forced many people to realize that they were all in it together and to reflect upon what their true priorities should be.

So far over 300 people have been killed in the Sendai area, with updates coming every hour as aftershocks continue to be felt.  Dozens perished due to mudslides. For most readers, it is perhaps difficult to imagine living through such uncertainty.  Anime and manga give us some idea of how people face such events.

In the manga Worst, Tsukishima Hana tells Amachi Hisashi of his experience with a mudslide:

I was eight years old, and there was a mudslide where I lived.  I lost both my parents in an instant.  My home, my backpack, my cute dog Daifuku . . . I am the only one that survived, thanks to some miracle.  I was sad; I was hurt; I didn’t know what to do.  But this is how I live: for my mom, for my dad, and for Daifuku.  I live the best I can for the sake of three people and a dog!

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 showed us how a girl faced with the unimaginable drew strength from an idea – the idea that her brother was still alive.  It asked the Japanese people to do the same: to cherish their hopes, their dreams, their anime, in a time of great upheaval and crisis.  What Sendai Magnitude 8.9 shows us is that the Japanese draw their strength from each other.

To participate in relief efforts, give to Global Giving, donate or volunteer at International Medical Corps, text REDCROSS to 90999 (incurring a $10 charge), or visit the Red Cross donation page.

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