Briefing: Japan’s Nuclear Disaster Continues to Unfold

Published December 11, 2013 | By Jacob Grunberger

On Friday March 11, 2011 at 2:45 pm JST, an earthquake registered as a 9.0 on the Richter Scale occurred near the east coast of Honshu, Japan. The earthquake was comparable in its magnitude to the earthquake that hit Sumatra in 2004, roughly the equivalent of 23,000 Nagasaki bombs being simultaneously detonated. The earthquake and ensuing tsunami destroyed towns and infrastructure, ultimately ending in billions of dollars worth of damage and the confirmed loss of about 16,000 lives. Located on the northeast coast of Japan, 219 kilometers from Tokyo, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant run by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) felt the first effects of the event.

Most Improved Country for 2013: Japan

Published June 24, 2013 | By Sebastian Pavlou

Japan continues to recover with relative speed from the triple crisis of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant meltdown that devastated the country on March 11, 2011. After the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami tore through the country's north-eastern coastal communities of Miyagi, Iwatu and Fukushima, at least 20,851 people died or remain missing. This figure includes the confirmed number of dead, 15,881, those who are missing, 2,668, and 2,303 others who died from disaster-related issues.

The Meltdown of Japan

Published June 20, 2012 | By Felipe Umaña

The year 2011 was a difficult one for Japan. On March 11, the 9.0-magnitude Tōhoku earthquake struck the northeastern coast of Japan, triggering a powerful tsunami that left destruction in its wake as it traveled over five miles inland. Numerous landslides occurred in the countryside and several large-scale nuclear meltdowns were reported in a number of nuclear facilities that were found to be unprepared for the strength of the waves. In the resulting calamity, the government of Japan was forced to declare a state of emergency and focus its first response teams on the afflicted northeastern areas.

Natural Disasters and Their Effect on State Capacity

Published June 18, 2011 | By J. J. Messner and Melody Knight

From the earthquake in Haiti to the volcano in Iceland, 2010 was a big year for natural disasters. Over a quarter million people were killed last year, and millions displaced, as a result of blizzards, droughts, earthquakes, floods, heat waves, landslides, and super typhoons, making it the deadliest year in more than a generation. These disasters claimed the lives of over 290,000 people in 2010, compared with just 11,000 in 2009, according to Munich Re.

Nuclear Meltdowns

Published April 19, 2011 | By Ryan Costello

Concerns regarding the safety of nuclear energy, particularly after the meltdowns at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, have hindered its continued development over the past few decades. However, increasing energy demand and fears of climate change have led to a “nuclear renaissance” in which states have increasingly pursued nuclear power as a carbon-free energy source. Given the evolving nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the future of nuclear energy is once again in doubt because of concerns about safety and health risks. When discussing the potential hazards of nuclear power, it is useful to bear in mind the cost of burning fossil fuels, such as coal. The burning of coal is a primary contributor to global warming, and it emits numerous hazardous air pollutants that likely result in thousands of deaths annually. Furthermore, around the globe thousands of coal miners die each year in mine accidents. Thus, the death toll from fossil fuels is higher than that of nuclear power.