Five Years After Fukushima: Life and Recovery

Author: Franklin Paul Barcinas

Kris and Akiko Gravender delivered a talk on the current status of those closely affected by the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster that occurred in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture five years ago.

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Akiko, a Japanese citizen, and her husband Kris reflected on the unwavering resilience of the Japanese people, as well as dedicated volunteers who relieved the stricken country of the heavy burden caused by the disaster in 2011.  The couple presented a moving example of the Japanese sentiment towards the volunteers who had helped them: a beautifully expressed letter of gratitude, which was distributed to each of the volunteers.    
 
The Gravenders proceeded to report that life in Japan, although forever marked by the history of the disaster, has returned to normal. Daily activity has resumed in areas that were previously deemed uninhabitable and quarantined. Akiko and Kris told the crowd that in many of these places, children may now attend school, and there, many have found new work. The Fukushima Prefecture has regained much in the past five years, but they stressed that one must not forget that which was never lost: Fukushima’s rich culture, the lands’ majestic beauty, and the stories told by their historical monuments.

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The audience, after the talk, posed a few questions relevant to those students studying abroad in Japan. Their advice to those who might find themselves there, is to know where the ‘konbini’ are. ‘Konbini’ are convenience stores in Japan, and according to the couple, they supply mostly everything one would need to live there with relative convenience. They furthermore advise those who plan on exploring the Tokyo area to always be accompanied by one who knows the region well. Wandering around without a guide could very likely result in an awkward situation. 

Five years after the disaster, a feeling of acceptance is in the hearts of the residents of Fukushima. With the disaster in their wake, they move on.