Foreign Dispatch: Traveling Through Devastation A Year After Japan Disaster

By FOX News Radio’s Alastair Wanklyn in Japan

One year on. It looks like the tsunami happened only yesterday.

Japan needs more time to clear the debris, and even longer to rebuild.

The wave swept through Nobiru town, once a picture-perfect beach resort.

Today, much debris has been cleared, leaving visible only the concrete footprint of houses, like chalk at a crime scene. But many homes still stand, ruined.

I watch the snow beginning to settle on a heap of possessions: clothes, jars of pickles, a pile of books, a lamp-shade made of seashells.

A year ago, two trains had just left this station in opposite directions when the wave hit. One was swept from the track and mangled; people in the other survived, as it had just climbed safely to higher ground.

Today the track is twisted, the power lines lying in a heap.

Across Japan’s northeastern coast it’ll cost a lot to restore infrastructure like this railway. The government is poised to pull the trigger on vast sums of reconstruction money, but first it needs to decide whether to rebuild entire towns.

Or, because entire communities were killed, do you instead ask survivors to move elsewhere?

Plenty have moved. A quarter-million or so are living in temporary accommodation. Many share a roof with strangers, and must collect their water in a pail. The lucky ones get a plush government apartment in Tokyo’s harbor area.

I caught up with several evacuees from Fukushima district, adjacent to the destroyed power plant. I expect to find them bitter over the nuclear disaster. But Takaki Hamana surprises me with his gentle attitude.

He says everything wears out eventually. Cars, planes, even nuclear power stations are bound to break down one day. It’s a generous attitude from a 70-year-old who has lost his home and possessions.

And as radiation continues to spill from the destroyed reactors, people across Japan might wonder how much their nation is losing by the day.

CLICK HERE to see some of Alastair Wanklyn’s reporting from Japan.




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