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Three Months Later, Japan Still Struggling
June 11, 2011

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It has been three months since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked northeastern Japan touched off a tsunami that devastated large parts of the country and its population. Some things have changed; others have not.

Naoto Kan is still prime minister, outlasting a few of his predecessors, who had no natural disasters to cope with. Kan has survived nearly constant negative press and more than one no-confidence vote in Parliament.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, focus of so much of the world's attention after the meltdown of three of the plant's nuclear reactors, remains shut, with radiation levels high and workers still struggling to make it safe not only for themselves but also for the surrounding area — a no-travel zone is still in effect for 12 miles around the plant.

Following in the vein of stories of food and water contamination, Japan has just announced that green tea supplies have been contaminated by radiation. This is likely to be a severe blow to Japan's trade income, since the country is recognized the world over as a prime supplier of quality green tea.

The death toll is more than 23,000. That includes 8,000 people still officially listed as missing.

Almost 100,000 people are still getting by in thousands of crowded emergency shelters.

Aid has poured in from around the world, in the form of money, equipment, and manpower. Still, Japan estimates that the cleanup after the country's worst-ever disasters will cost tens of billions of dollars.

On the business side of things, Japan has announced that it will pursue more alternative energies and weigh up plans for building more nuclear plants against the lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster. The country is also reeling from serious disruptions in production of not only finished products but also parts, as all the major automakers have announced precipitous drops in forecasts for the coming year.

Also struggling is Tokyo Electric Power, owner of the Fukushima plant. TEPCO, as it is commonly known, has since reported a 90-percent drop in its share price. Its head, Masataka Shimizu, recently resigned.

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