News / Asia

Sendai Struggles to Hang On After Quake, Tsunami

A Sendai resident carries paper goods on a debris-filled street, March 14, 2011
A Sendai resident carries paper goods on a debris-filled street, March 14, 2011

As search and rescue efforts continue in northeastern Japan, following the country's worst natural disaster, millions of survivors there are trying to get on with life.

Many of are facing scarcities of daily necessities and spending much of their waking hours waiting in lines.  It is a situation younger Japanese have never faced and only have heard about from their parents and grandparents who survived adversity during and after World War II.

Along the estimated 600 kilometers of coastline devastated by tsunami, the city of Sendai is the most prominent place. Its sea port and airport have been destroyed and no trains are running through any of its rail stations. They all were critical links for the city's infrastructure.

Related video report by Henry Ridgewell

The killer waves reached three kilometers inland here, leveling buildings and trees.

Aid Sent and Offered to Japan

  • US: 8 warships off coast, 50 rescue workers, US AID sending 72 personnel and equipment
  • Australia: sends dogs, search, rescue teams
  • Afghanistan: provice of Kandahar offers $50,000 in aid
  • Britain, France, Germany offer personnel, equipment, emergency aid
  • Russia: increases energy supplies to Japan
  • China, South Korea, India offer aid
  • Los Angeles Dodgers and pop star Lady Gaga raise money for relief efforts

Half of the city's one-million people have no electricity in their homes. Hundreds of thousands of residences and businesses are also without water.

Although downtown Sendai suffered some quake damage, it still essentially looks like a modern Japanese city, protected by its relative elevation. A limited amount of commerce continues, in an attempt to supply the stunned population with basic necessities.

Keiko Tanaka, six months pregnant, walks with her mother along a street in central Sendai, carrying a big box loaded with spinach, lettuce and onions. They had waited in line at a green grocer for 30 minutes and said the price of vegetables has doubled since Friday.

Tanaka says they are trying to stock up while they can.

Tanaka says although the interior of her home is a mess because of the quake, she feels lucky to live in this part of the city that still has electricity and running water. But her family is worried how long that will last, especially with scheduled rolling blackouts beginning across the country and official predictions of a magnitude seven aftershock coming any day.

Vegetable shoppers are not the only ones waiting in line. Hundreds of people can be seen patiently waiting to get into the very few clothing, hardware and convenience stores still open.

For drivers, finding an open gasoline station has become nearly impossible. The wait to fuel up can extend for hours.

Nearly all restaurants are shuttered. But in central Sendai, a branch of the Nakau beef bowl restaurant chain has stayed open. It is offering only one menu item - curry wheat-flour noodle soup. Every meal includes a cup of free hot water.

Manager Akihiko Yamaguchi says business has been predictably brisk since the earthquake struck, knocking out most competitors.

Yamaguchi says they have decided to remain open as long as possible to give the people of Sendai encouragement to try to carry on.

Residents, despite their weariness, express confidence Sendai will again thrive, noting the city has faced adversity before during its 400-year history.

Twenty percent of Sendai was destroyed by American bombers during World War II.  It managed to rebuild, becoming the economic hub for this region of Japan.

Images from Miyagi Prefecture, Sendai, Japan (photos by S.L. Herman)


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid