Japan Rebuilds, Struggles in Fear of Second Disaster

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TOKYO -- One year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami claimed some 19,000 Japanese lives, people like restaurant owner Murakami Yuko are still trying hard to rebuild their lives.

Before the tragedy, Yuko's Sushi restaurant was a popular eatery in town, attracting patrons from hundreds of miles away.

But business has not been good because so many people are still concerned about the effects of radiation leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

"In some ways I wish we skipped this weekend and moved straight into April," Yuko lamented.

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Yuko's restaurant sits 25 miles from the tsunami-wrecked  plant.

"I've realized this year just how fragile life can be," he told CBN News. "In a split second everything turned upside down and sometimes you've got to wonder whether it's all worth it."

Suicide, Joblessness on Rise

Murakami joined his countrymen Sunday in remembering the moment when the magnitude-9.0 earthquake hit on March 11, 2011 at 2:46 p.m. It killed roughly 19,000 people and changed the lives of hundreds of thousands more. 

The three most devastated regions of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima are slowly getting back on their feet.

The debris has gone, the roads are cleared, and the shops, hotels, and restaurants are open for business. But there's also a dark side to the boom. The suicide rate, illnesses, and unemployment are rising.

A newly released survey shows that 20 percent of those living in the tsunami zone are suffering from insomnia and other psychiatric problems. 

Another Quake?

Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in temporary shelters.

"And the sad fact is that we could lose it all again," one Japanese man said.

On the streets of Tokyo, there's growing anxiety as residents believe the city is long overdue for a powerful shaking. Japanese scientists are warning of a mega-quake hitting one of the most populated places on Earth.

Since the last 9.0 quake, there have been close to 10,000 to hit the nation of Japan -- an average of one earthquake every hour.

"We are used to it, but I get afraid all the time. It is the unknown that's scary," another Japanese resident said.
Tokyo may be one of the most earthquake-proofed places in the world, but experts are warning against complacency. There's been a three-fold increase in tectonic activity since last year's earthquake.
"There is a tendency to take things lightly, and I fear people are not prepared enough," one Japanese man said. "We have to do better to get ready for the next big one."
His words are not what the people of Japan want to hear after just observing the worst natural disaster to hit in nearly 100 years.

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CBN News
George Thomas

George Thomas

CBN News Sr. Reporter

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