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A grief observed

"A grief observed" Continued...

Issue: "Clutching two, dropping four," April 23, 2011

Meanwhile, Japanese citizens remained resilient and patient, even while coping with deep losses. In evacuation shelters, quake victims elected leaders and formed rotating teams to keep the shelters clean, well-organized, and running smoothly. Aid workers reported little to no trouble in delivering relief supplies to evacuees waiting in long lines in difficult conditions. And many Japanese somberly continued the daily ritual of methodically checking makeshift morgues for the remains of loved ones.

It's those victims-and others suffering deep losses-who have needs running far deeper than relief supplies or new homes. Board says they also need pastoral care and a sense of hope-something in limited supply in Japan even before the quake. "Hope is something that's really missing in the Japanese society," he says. "I think this is an opportunity for the church to mobilize and demonstrate in practical ways the love and compassion of Christ, and offer a word of hope in the gospel."

Back at the makeshift morgue in the bowling alley near Sendai, the need for hope is profound. Kazuya Onishi, 31, searched the morgue for his mother's body a week after discovering his wife's body in a coffin along one of the alley's lanes. Onishi told The Wall Street Journal that the search for his mother came up empty. "I want to believe there was a miracle and she survived, but after all the time that has passed, I know that's close to impossible," he said. "I want to see her face one last time. I didn't ever get to say, 'Thank you.'"

Corporate responsibility

TEPCO particularly slow to act in nuclear crisis, say experts

By Paul Glader

Crisis management-from last year's BP oil spill to Toyota brake recalls-is never a favorite pastime for large corporations. But Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, appears to have demonstrated particular slowness to act to contain the nuclear disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station following last month's earthquake and tsunami. And the longer that crisis continues, the more likely it is the corporation could face bankruptcy or a government takeover.

Workers at the flooded nuclear power complex scored a rare victory by stopping highly radioactive water from flowing into the Pacific on April 6. But they continued to face daunting tasks: injecting nitrogen to prevent more hydrogen explosions and devising a plan to drain radioactive water flooding the basements of reactor buildings, while continuing to cool the overheated and damaged reactors.

While some radiation fears may be overblown, many see a major cleanup in the works for TEPCO, too. "It's too early to make any specific judgments," said Carl H. Seligson, a former Wall Street banker working in utility investments, but "it looks like they're a bunch of bumbling fools." He expects TEPCO's problems to sideline future nuclear projects in the United States and Europe, which is already reviewing its more than 100 nuclear plants.

TEPCO has grown rapidly since 1951, when it started as a utility serving Tokyo following World War II. But the disaster that began with the March 11 earthquake has so far wiped out more than $30 billion of TEPCO's market value-which included $62.5 billion in revenue in 2009.

Meanwhile, reports are surfacing that there were safety concerns about Japan's nuclear plants well before the earthquake struck. The Daily Telegraph cited a Wikileaks document that showed international nuclear officials raised concerns in 2008 about the safety of nuclear power plants in Japan, known for its earthquake activity. Bloomberg News reported that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission raised concerns in 1990 that earthquakes could cause diesel generator failure and power outage in reactor cooling systems in Japan, and would be one of the "most likely causes" of nuclear accidents.

"Their profile preceding this accident hadn't made people feel 100 percent comfortable," said Nick Heymann, an industrial analyst at Sterne Agee in New York. "If there was a credibility gap earlier, it gets magnified as we go through this tragic accident."


See "Helping Japan" for links to aid groups en route or already on the ground and to WORLD's continuing coverage of the disaster aftermath.

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD.

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