AsianScientist (Apr. 2, 2013) – Google Street View has released images of a Fukushima town that is facing a grim future two years after the March 2011 Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.
The company sent its camera-equipped cars to the eastern coastal town of Namie in the Futaba District of Fukushima, Japan, on the second anniversary of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami.
Because of the lingering radiation from the TEPCO Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor blasts, authorities set up a 12-mile evacuation zone that left Namie’s 21,000-strong population with no choice but to evacuate their homes for temporary housing.
At the invitation of Mayor Tamotsu Baba, Google’s crew began filming in Namie earlier in March, and what the cameras saw were destroyed property, abandoned vehicles, and a town in general disrepair.
Describing Namie as “blessed with both ocean and mountains” and surrounded by “both the beauty of the sea and the forests,” Mayor Baba recounted the tragedy in a Google blog article posted on March 27 that has received much support from around the world.
“Many buildings, like this one in the foreground, collapsed during the earthquake, and we still have not been able to remove them. We are also unable to repair damaged buildings and shops nor prepare them for the potential impact of further aftershocks,” the mayor wrote.
“Nearby Ukedo Harbor once proudly boasted 140 fishing boats and 500 buildings, but suffered some of the worst tsunami damage. After being set off-limits, we have not been able to clean up the wreckage on the side of the road, including the many fishing boats that were washed several kilometers inland,” Mayor Baba wrote.
The mayor expressed sadness that although many parts in Japan had started recovering after the disaster, “but in Namie-machi time stands still.”
“Those of us in the older generation feel that we received this town from our forebearers, and we feel great pain that we cannot pass it down to our children. It has become our generation’s duty to make sure future generations understand the city’s history and culture – maybe even those who will not remember the Fukushima nuclear accident. We want this Street View imagery to become a permanent record of what happened to Namie-machi in the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster,” he wrote.
Mayor Baba pledged never to forsake the town of Namie, and made a renewed commitment to help the town recover from the triple tragedy.
“It may take many years and many people’s help, but we will never give up taking back our hometown,” he said.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photos: Google Street Maps.
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