Five years ago March 11, a magnitude-9.0 off the coast of northern Japan unleashed a massive tsunami, a disaster that lives on in many ways and will continue to do so for decades to come. More than 19,000 people were killed, entire villages were laid to waste and power to a nuclear plant was cut off, triggering multiple meltdowns in the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster.
The Associated Press plans the following stories in connection with the anniversary of the disaster:
TUESDAY, MARCH 8:
NAMIE, Japan — Masafumi Yoshizawa has been raising 330 cows at his ranch in the no-go zone just outside the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, defying a government order to kill them. The prized black “wagyu” beef can never be eaten, but Yoshizawa keeps the cows as living proof of the disaster and the unwanted truths the government may be hiding. By Mari Yamaguchi, 550 words. With AP photos by Shizuo Kambayashi.
TOKYO — Nine AP journalists who fanned out across the region after Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis recall otherworldly scenes that haunt to this day. 1,700 words, photos.
TOKYO — A senior official who was in charge of the contaminated water talks to the AP about his battle against imminent massive leaks just months after the meltdown, as well as the current status and challenges, including a “frozen wall” and other steps to control the water. By Mari Yamaguchi, 500 words.
JAPAN-FUKUSHIMA DAI-ICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
A look at the state of decommissioning at the Fukushima nuclear plant crippled by the 2011 tsunami and quake. Workers are struggling with an ever-increasing volume of contaminated water, as plant operator TEPCO’s measures to treat it haven’t worked as anticipated. Decommissioning is expected to take decades.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9
TOKYO, Japan — They feel like refugees, although they live in one of the world’s richest and most peaceful nations. Five years ago, these former residents of Fukushima fled their homes as a nearby nuclear plant melted down. Although the government has started to open up previously off-limits areas, most “nuclear refugees” don’t believe it is safe to go back. Now a new fear looms: a cut-off of government housing aid. By Yuri Kageyama, 1,300 words.
JAPAN-TSUNAMI-THEN AND NOW-PHOTO ESSAY
AP photographer Eugene Hoshiko travels to five towns hard hit by the tsunami to capture how much has changed five years later.
JAPAN-FUKUSHIMA-BY THE NUMBERS
TOKYO — A brief, by-the-numbers look at the state of decommissioning and decontamination.
TOMIOKA, Japan — Residents may never return to the area near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, leaving the area a no-man’s land. Tomioka town decided last year to host a disposal site for highly radioactive waste. The town is nonetheless also hoping to bring back evacuated residents. Tomioka’s case reflects a common dilemma: While officials prepare to lift evacuation orders and rebuild infrastructure, many evacuees are anxious about returning.
THURSDAY, MARCH 10
MINAMI-SOMA, Japan — It is a job for the desperate. Some 7,000 day laborers are cleaning up this irradiated town just north of the Fukushima nuclear plant, wiping roof tiles and removing soil and plants in a seemingly never-ending battle against winds that bring fresh contamination. When they die, their remains sometimes go unclaimed. Their work is hazardous, and costly, and some wonder whether it is worth it for a place that people may never want to move back to. By Mari Yamaguchi, about 1,000 words. With AP photos by Shizuo Kambayashi.
RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan — For the first time in three years, Japan’s Coast Guard resumes underwater searches in the coastal town of Rikuzentakata, where more than 200 remain missing from the 2011 tsunami. Across the region, reconstruction efforts wrestle with depopulation and worker shortages.
FRIDAY, MARCH 11
RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan — Five years after the destructive magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, survivors and residents in Rikuzentakata hold memorial ceremonies for the more than 19,000 dead or missing. In Tokyo, Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to deliver remarks at a national ceremony. By Emily Wang. Length TBD, photos, video.
JAPAN-TSUNAMI-BY THE NUMBERS
TOKYO — A look at the tsunami and the recovery five years later through key statistics.
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