Lives Damaged, Documents Lost: One Year after the Japanese Tsunami
One year after the devastation caused by the Tsunami in Japan, businesses are rebuilding and taking stock of what has been lost.
March 11, 2012, marked the one-year anniversary of the most devastating political and humanitarian disaster Japan has seen since 1945. In March of 2011, an enormous earthquake and subsequent devastating tsunamis triggered meltdowns at Fukushima Plant No. 1.
A year later, the pace of recovery is slow, but Japan is rebuilding. The death toll remains at 15,854, with another 3,155 missing. A total of 343,925 people were evacuated, with another 6,000 people injured from the climatic events.
Reconstruction Includes Dealing with Debris
Japan still faces a major problem: dealing with mountains of debris left after the tsunami. Millions of tons of flood-soaked debris must be disposed of. Some places are progressing well in this challenge. In Ishinomaki (Miyagi prefect), one of the hardest-hit areas, parts of the city are well on their way to recovery. The area around the main railway station has seen bars, cafes and restaurants come back to life, mostly thanks to an influx of people hired to clear the millions of tons of debris generated by the storm.
But it may take decades to rebuild the physical structures of Japan’s town, and shattered lives and families won’t heal instantly.
Dealing with and disposing of flood damaged documents (as well as the rest of the debris) continues to be a serious challenge. In areas such as Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima prefectures, only 6.3 of the 22.5 million tons of debris has been removed. Figuring out where to dispose of damaged documents and other debris poses its own quandary. Many cities and country towns in Japan refuse to accept flood damaged documents and other tsunami detritus. People in these areas fear debris left after the storm may be contaminated with radiation from the nuclear meltdown, or with other harmful dioxins.
The Effect of the Disaster on Business and Industry
The disaster in 2011 and the resulting cleanup and recovery effort offer hope, but economic problems still loom for the Asian island country. Japan’s economy was seen as ‘perilous’ even before the storm, as it was recovering from the economic shock caused by the financial crisis of 2008, and of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers in particular.
The tsunami further darkened Japan’s economic outlook. The following earthquakes devastated most of the northeastern region of the country. Many production facilities were destroyed, and supply lines were disrupted for some global companies, including Toyota. This led to worldwide production losses and sales problems.
Thankfully, industrial supply lines were restored within months, beating economists’ predictions. However, Japan’s automotive and electronics industries took another hit from flooding in neighboring Thailand.
Japanese customers had to cut drastically on spending, and many now prefer to save out of fear of future catastrophes. Fortunately, the Japanese Yen is on the rise again, partly as a response to European Debt Crisis. In Japan, investment is on the increase, and economists predict a return to economic growth.
The catastrophe has led to new opportunities for Japan, but many problems still remain, one of these being a rapidly aging population.
Reconstruction through Lending
Japan is in a better position than other countries would be with respect to their rebuilding efforts; however, political wrangling and power struggles against bureaucracy meant the first budget to deal with recovery efforts was slowly put into place. Since the first budget was approved, two more supplementary budgets have been passed with the result of more visible progress being seen in the recovery efforts.
Overall, Japan is the world’s most indebted industrial country, and most of the recovery effort is being paid for with borrowed money.
What American Businesses Can Learn from Japan’s Recovery
The catastrophe in Japan could be seen as a wakeup call for American businesses to be prepared for the next natural disaster. The truth is that flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes and other fatal disasters can happen anywhere, and being prepared for the unexpected can save businesses money in the long run. (Indeed, being prepared for a disaster could save your business – many companies fail in the aftermath of disasters.)
Businesses can back up digital files and prepare employees for emergencies, but even the best-laid disaster plans can overlook key documents. Fortunately, disaster recovery companies can recover damaged documents after the fact. For instance, Rapid Refile, a disaster recovery firm, specializes in recovering flood damaged documents using of a state-of-the-art drying and desiccant dry air delivery system. Rapid Refile employees are experts in recovering damaged documents that have been destroyed or damaged by water or mold. To prepare your business for any disaster, call Rapid Refile or another local damaged documents recovery company today.
[ Photo by: DFID - UK Department for International Development, via CC License ]