Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Reporting, April 1, 2011

Reported Dead and Missing as of April 1, 2011

As of April 1st, nearly three weeks after the incredible calamity that has stricken the north east region of Japan, the numbers of dead and missing continue to climb. While the total has not reached 30,000 yet, given the current trajectory, we would expect it to reach at least that. Miyagi prefecture is still the hardest hit and the continued nuclear crisis in Fukushima still prevents teams from engaging in extensive seraches for the dead and missing.

Finally though, the ratio of dead to missing has begun to decrease, indicating that confirmations of the dead may slowly be trickling in, while reports of missing loved ones have finally abated.

The refugee situation, however, is still dire. Nearly 200,000 people have yet to return to any type of home, and continue to languish in public shelters under what must be incredibly challenging conditions. Reports indicate that the delivery of supplies has improved in recent days, but Japan’s refugees still suffer under a blanket of government and bureaucratic inefficiency. It has been said that medical supplies brought in on helicopter were refused in the North East because landing the craft at a local airport would violate established buraucratic rules.

Gasoline reserves have only until recently been loosened, because rules state that Japan must keep a 70 day supply. Using the gas reserves given the present demand in the north east would decrease the supply to only 45 days. This, of course, causes one to wonder why Japan keeps reserves to begin with.

Despite Japan’s predilectin toward major disasters, the weakness and unneccesary rigidity of the central government of Japan has become painfully obvious to all. A government which feeds off keep the statu quo at all times is ill equipped to deal with sudden catastrophic events.

Despite government inefficiencies, the people of Japan deserve credit for coming together and providing relief where it can be provided in a civil and orderly manner. While this phenomenon of cooperation and civility is certainly not restricted to Japan, everyone is to be commended. However, the affected residents of the northeast will face incredible challenges for years to come.

Number of refugees by prefecture.

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

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