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Japan: Frustrations from the Overlooked

This post is part of our special coverage Japan Earthquake 2011.

While the eyes of the media and the rest of Japan have been glued to developments in the Tohoku region, cries for help from other disaster areas have not received as much attention. The coasts of northeastern Kanto were hit hard by the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Ibaraki Prefecture, where the tsunami swallowed up several of its coastal towns, has had 19 earthquake related casualties. The Kashima industrial complex, one of the largest industrial areas in Japan, was severely affected. 16 deaths have been confirmed in Chiba Prefecture, 11 of which were tsunami victims in the northeastern coast, and 7 people are still missing. 11,332 people in Ibaraki and 806 people in Chiba are taking shelter in evacuation centers.

Katsuta Station, Hitachinata, Ibaraki Prefecture

Katsuta Station, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture. Photo: Courtesy of Twitter user yu_u1163

On Twitter, many people are starting to express their frustration about the lack of coverage and information from these areas.

@daniel_ktg 【お願い】茨城・千葉・栃木・長野・新潟の状況が全然入ってきていません。被害状況・安否情報・避難所・給水所・物資支援状況等もっと報道して下さい!視聴率稼ぎの報道ではなく、伝えるべきことを伝えて下さい。本当にお願いします。#nhk #ntv #tvasahi #tbs #fujitv

We are lacking information about Ibaraki/Chiba/Tochigi/Nagano/Niigata. Please report more about the damage situation, safety information, the evacuation centers, supply support and so on. Please don’t just report what will get you higher ratings, report what needs to be known. Please.

@an_y27 津波、原発も大事です。でもほとんど報道されてない被災地域もあるんだよ。茨城の状況とか千葉の断水とか全然聞かないのはどうして?

The tsunami and nuclear power plants are both important. But there are also the devastated areas, which have hardly received any coverage. Why don’t we hear anything about conditions in Ibaraki Prefecture and about the water stoppage in Chiba?

@deeploveP 千葉、茨城は被災地なのに、東北程に目を向けられてない。メディアもドキュメントだったり 助かったやったー的な報道、それからどの局も原発。それよりも現地の炊き出しの状況や空いてる避難所などの情報を流すべきなんじゃないだろうか。でも今のこの状況で、どうやったらこの意見は届く…?

Chiba and Ibaraki are both disaster zones but they’re not being given the same level of attention as Tohoku. The media are showing on-site footage & rescues, and every station is featuring the nuclear power plants. Shouldn’t they be broadcasting information about the state of soup kitchens and about which shelters are open? With things in the state they are, how can I tell them this?


A giant whirlpool created by tsunami off the coast of Oarai, Ibaraki

Some also raised their concerns about the blackout planned for March 14, which would affect the disaster-hit areas.

@masalogs 【お願い】計画停電の対象から被災地の茨城県を外して下さい。特に、茨城の県北地区は、いまだ停電・断水が続いており、配給物資も乏しく、危険な状態です。至急、展開願います。#ibaraki #jishin #nhk #ntv #tbs #fujitv #tvasahi #tvtokyo

Please remove Ibaraki from rolling blackouts. It is a quake-hit area. The northern part of Ibaraki in particular is still in a critical situation, with power/water outages and supply shortages. Please pass this on ASAP.

@micron052 東京電力さん。銚子、旭市は被災地です。ライフイン全滅の地区もあります。停電する地域を考えて下さい。NHKさんも報道お願い致します。#nhk

Dear TEPCO, Choshi and Asahi are disaster-hit areas. Some districts don’t have lifelines working. Think before you choose blackout areas. NHK, you too, please cover this.

@yorumiya 避難もできずにいる南三陸町を故郷と呼ぶ僕は、やっぱ り我がままだと解りつつそちらの救助を優先して貰いたい。切実に。でも、栃木や茨城を無視しろとは絶対に言わない。その辺の地域は停電の対象から外すべき だ。被災地を停電させるくらいなら23区を30分単位で停電させろよ。

Minami-Sanriku town, where people are stuck and still unable to flee, is the place I call home. I know this is selfish but I desperately want them to prioritise the area and rescue them. But I would never say ignore Tochigi and Ibaraki. These areas should be removed from the plan of rolling blackouts. Better blackout the Tokyo’s 23 wards for 30 min each than blackout the quake-hit areas.


Footage of tsunami-hit Asahi, Chiba Prefecture

As the major source of electricity for the Kanto region was lost in the earthquake and the production of electricity significantly decreased, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced that rolling blackouts would be implemented in the Kanto and surrounding region in order to suppress electricity supply.
After much confusion, at 17:00 on March 14, electricity was cut off in selected areas. TEPCO initially announced that the power outage would be carried out only in parts of Ibaraki and Shizuoka. But in fact, other areas in the Kanto regions, including those hit by the earthquake and tsunami, such as Asahi, where 11 people died and a few are still missing, were also included.

@ecconeko 今、旭市の親戚宅。17時ちょうどから停電始まってます。 被災地なのに電気止められちゃうの?って感じ。 水道も復旧してないのに・・・(´・ω・`)

At my relative’s in Asahi now. Blackout started at 17:00 sharp. I’m like, disaster area gets power cut off? Water hasn’t even been restored yet…

@reyrey551 NHKだと茨城と静岡の一部って言ってたが今千葉テレビ見ると香取市は停電で旭市と銚子市も停電みたいだが

NHK said only in parts of Ibaraki and Shizuoka, but according to Chiba TV it seems that there is a blackout in Katori, as well as in Asahi and Choshi.

@kabu_frog kabu 茨城県鹿嶋で停電してる!潮来市も神栖市もだ!ここは報道されてないけど被害結構あったから止めてくれ!

Power is out in Kashima, Ibaraki! And in Itako and Kamisu too! There’s not much media coverage of these areas but there has been a lot of damage, so please stop doing this!

@no9_halu 【公式RT希望】都心を停電させないために、津波の被災地であり未だ余震の続く茨城県や千葉県の沿岸地域(鹿嶋や銚子など)が計画停電中。何か矛盾していませんか?

In order to avoid a power outage in the center of the capital, a planned blackout is being carried out in the coastal areas of Ibaraki and Chiba (including Kashima and Choshi), areas hit by the tsunami and where there are still aftershocks. Don’t you see a contradiction here?

TEPCO later officially apologized for including disaster centers in the blackout areas, stating that it had not taken into consideration the disaster situation. Another rolling power outage was implemented on March 15, but the disaster areas were excluded this time.

This post is part of our special coverage Japan Earthquake 2011.

Tweets were translated by Tomoko Tsuchiya and Chris Salzberg.

  • Jill Nichols

    Yes, please post more about Kamisu. My son was there in July of 2007 on a student exchange program. He stayed with 2 different families and their son’s in turn, stayed with us. I have been so anxious to find out anything that I can about the area. If you know Takumi Takahashi who lived at 2100-229 Kamura or Seigo Sakurai who lived at 1-64-38 Hiraizumihigashi, both in Kamisu, please post something letting us know how they are. Thank you so very much, Jill & Tim Nichols Eureka, CA

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