Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Fri07032015

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Back Opinion We’ll never forget

We’ll never forget

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IT WAS Friday afternoon, March 11, about 3:45 when we began to receive news last year that there had been an earthquake in Japan – a big one. Earthquakes are common in that country, one of the most geologically active on Earth.

So at first we didn’t pay all that much attention. But then that famous Japanese word – tsunami – came over the airwaves. There’s a reason why that word is understood all over the world in all languages. The islands of Japan have been affected by many devastating tidal waves, and they are the most terrifying natural disaster of them all, relentlessly moving over and through everything in their way.

In Japan, on Guam, everywhere, television sets turned to the feeds from NHK, the national broadcasting service of Japan, which immediately launched helicopters with live cameras that caught the destruction as it evolved; those are the images we can never forget – the wall of water surging over the barriers and moving inland, taking virtually everything with it.

First boats, then cars and trucks were swept along and finally engulfed and swamped. Buildings shuddered and broke away from their foundations; debris was caught up in the flood which seemed to have no end. In some of the shots, people could be seen trying to outrun the water. Most did not make it. In some of the vehicles, drivers or passengers could be seen, doomed as the water pulled them under.

The larger picture of the disaster took some time to assemble from the hundreds of thousands of individual images, but the impression from watching the television feed was one of total, astonished amazement. Elsewhere in this edition of the Variety, the Japanese Consul to Guam shares the shocking final toll. It was the worst disaster in Japan since World War II.

The disaster generated an outpouring of sympathy and assistance from throughout the world, including here on Guam where there were numerous fundraisers and substantial donations from major companies.

The country’s current Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, said as he marked the first anniversary of the disaster: “Japan has received warm and generous offers of assistance from more than 160 countries and regions and over 40 international organizations. On behalf of the people of Japan, I would like to express once again my appreciation for this assistance.”

The disaster isn’t over, of course. The damaged nuclear power plant at Fukushima was destroyed, and while the threat of a meltdown was avoided, the contamination of areas around the reactors is total and dangerous. ... That will take many years to resolve.

On the first anniversary of this cataclysmic event in Japan, we once again offer our sympathy and best wishes to our neighbors to the north. We continue to wish them well.

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