Crisis in Japan

The Navigator

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific coastal areas of northeastern and eastern Japan on March 11, triggering an enormous tsunami that left a death toll of over 11,000 Japanese people.

The tsunami caused extensive damage on the northeast coast of Japan extending up to 6 miles inland and affecting places down to the Tokyo area. Buildings were demolished, homes overturned, and areas of the country were left in ruins after Japan’s most powerful earthquake since records began.

Japan’s National Police Agency said Friday that more than 17,440 people are listed as missing.

A nuclear plant in Fukushima poses a radiation threat as concentrations leak into vegetables, raw milk, and tap water, yet Nuclear Safety agencies said that the amounts are not high enough to be harmful to humans. Residents within 20 kilometers of the plant have been ordered to evacuate.

The American Red Cross said Tuesday the public has donated $120.5 million to help Japanese people following the events that devastated northeastern Japan. Over 3000 people have been rescued.

People who were further inland and on the western shores were not affected by the tsunami but still experienced some affects of the earthquake.

The father of JU student Jonathan Haupt, Howard Gary Gaupt, is a contractor satellite instructor at a marine core in Okinawa, Japan.

“Fortunately for me Okinawa is on the outskirt of the event and not inside the worst of it for any means,” Haupt said.

Before Haupt left for work he had heard the news there was an earthquake and by the time he left work he heard that everything was shutting down because of the tsunami.

Haupt said that after the earthquake he heard alarms going off all Friday evening through Saturday.

“It wasn’t chaotic in Okinawa,” Haupt said. “Military bases were closing their facilities and also their commerce areas and restaurants. All the areas where people would go to do things were shut down.”

Haupt said that Okinawa has a lot of earthquakes; in the last 4 months Haupt has been in Okinawa there were 3 minor earthquakes.

“It is not unusual for Okinawa to have earthquakes so they were pretty well prepared,” Haupt said.

Haupt said that he doesn’t think that the culture in Okinawa has changed since the devastating incidents.

“They take these things in stride,” Haupt said. “The structure around here is all concrete, everything is built to survive events like this.”

According to the Japanese government more than 40 percent of Japan’s coast is lined with breakwaters, sea walls, and other structures. Some estimate that they prevented some of the damage, but many of the structures were swamped and collapsed under the tsunami.

Haupt said the Okinawas know what to expect and their culture is built to withstand it the best they can.

“It is not something that surprised them,” Haupt said. “The magnitude is not what they expected but the event itself is not something they could have prepared for.”

Haupt said that Okinawa is responding by using the military facilities to house people who have to evacuate and by deploying people to support the rescue efforts.

“The biggest thing was having the military facility close because that is where I do business,” Haupt said.

Haupt called his wife after the earthquake hit Japan therefore his son was not too worried when he heard about the earthquake on the news because he had already heard from his father.

“When it happened my dad gave my mom a call early that morning and she called and told me before I heard about it on the news so it really wasn’t as much of a concern,” Jon said.

Haupt’s family was initially concerned about the radiation, but they say because of his location it’s not going to be a factor for him, at least not right now.

Jon said he would rather for his father to be home but he knows that his father is doing what he has to do.

“He’s providing for our family so in that respect I’m glad that at least he has a job,” said Jon. “I’d prefer he be back at the house and be there for me and mother but I’d much rather him have a stable job that he enjoys.”