Summary data

Summary data

The great earthquake and tsunami that struck Eastern Japan

At 14:46 on March 11, 2011, the magnitude-9.0 Earthquake off the Tohoku Region Pacific Coast (*1) struck Japan with the epicenter off the Sanriku Coast.
The scale of this earthquake was the largest in recorded history. Observed seismic intensities were 7 in Kurihara City of Miyagi Prefecture and a strong 6 in Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectural areas.
This earthquake gave rise to a huge tsunami which occurred in waters off the Pacific Coast of the Tohoku and northern Kanto regions. Especially noticeable was that the waters off Soma City of Fukushima Prefecture experienced the highest ever tsunami of over 9.3 meters (*2). Immense damage resulted with so many deaths and missing people as well as completely destroyed houses.

*1: The official name of this earthquake is the "Earthquake off the Tohoku Region Pacific Coast" and the resultant damage is named the "Great East Japan Earthquake."
*2: There was a period during which data were unavailable because most observation facilities were heavily damaged by the tsunami. It is therefore very likely that the tsunami might have been even higher than was recorded due to subsequent huge waves.

The nuclear power plant accident

Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant lost its power due to the great tsunami, resulting in disability of the cooling function. Its nuclear reactors became uncontrollable, which led to hydrogen explosions and release of a great deal of radioactive material. As such, it became the largest-ever nuclear power plant accident in Japan.
The situation worsened even more on March 12. At 15:36, a hydrogen explosion occurred at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1. On March 14, a hydrogen explosion occurred at Unit 3, followed by still another hydrogen explosion at Unit 3 on March 15. In response, the national and Fukushima prefectural governments issued emergency evacuation and related orders thereby forcing many local residents to evacuate their homes.


Exterior of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Unit 3 as it appeared right after the hydrogen explosions (Source: Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Co., Ltd.)

<Orders and instructions issued>
*An excerpt from "Records of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Path of Reconstruction" published by Fukushima Prefecture

March 11
19:03 – Fukushima Daiichi: Declaration of a nuclear emergency state is issued.
20:50 – Fukushima Daiichi: Fukushima Prefecture issues an evacuation order of the area within a 2km radius of the power plant.
21:23 – Fukushima Daiichi: National government issues an evacuation order of the area within a 3km radius of the power plant, and an indoor sheltering order to the area within a 10km radius.

March 12
5:44 – Fukushima Daiichi: National government issues an evacuation order of the area within a 10km radius of the power plant.
7:45 – Fukushima Daini: Declaration of a nuclear emergency state is issued. National government issues an evacuation order of the area within a 3km radius of the power plant and an indoor sheltering order of the area within a 10km radius.
17:39 – Fukushima Daini: National government issues an evacuation order of the area within a 10km radius of the power plant.
18:25 – Fukushima Daiichi: National government issues an evacuation order of the area within a 20km radius of the power plant.

March 15
11:00 – Fukushima Daiichi: National government issues an indoor sheltering order of the area within a 20~30km radius of the power plant.

Damage evaluation in Fukushima City

The Fukushima City area suffered seismic intensity of a weak 6. A wide variety of damage occurred throughout the city, where a large number of private houses, public facilities and transportation facilities were destroyed. Immense damage also occurred to life-line utilities such as electric power, gas and water supply systems, causing serious impact on citizens' daily lives.
In numerical terms, Fukushima City recorded 17 deaths (of which 11 were directly related to the earthquake) while well over 10,000 houses and buildings were damaged.

[Damage situation in Fukushima City]

●Earthquake
・Date and time of occurrence: 14:46, March 11, 2011
・Epicenter: Off Sanriku Coast
・Depth of epicenter: 24km
・Scale: Magnitude 9.0
・Seismic intensity in Fukushima City: Weak 6

●Damage (as of August 5, 2020)
・Human damage:
17 deaths (of which 11 deaths are related to the earthquake);
2 seriously injured
17 lightly injured
・Damage to structures:
744 totally destroyed
5,557 half-destroyed;
7,688 partially damaged
・Evacuation order (to Asahidai Housing Complex):
March 11, 2011 – Order issued to 80 households
January 16, 2014 – Order is lifted


<Fig.> Seismic intensity levels in major cities due to the Earthquake off the Tohoku Region Pacific Coast that occurred at 114:46, March 11, 2011 (Source: Japan Meteorological Agency)



◆Reference

[Damage situation nationwide]
●Damage (as of March 1, 2020)
  ・Human damage:
    19,729 deaths
    2,559 people missing
    6,233 people lightly injured
  ・Damage to houses:
    121,996 units totally destroyed
    282,941 units half-destroyed
    748,461 units partially damaged
    1,628 units inundated above floor level
    10,075 units inundated below floor level
  ・Damage structures other than residential houses:
    14,427 public buildings
    92,059 other structures
(Source: Fire Defense Agency Disaster Response Headquarters)

[Damage situation in Fukushima Prefecture]
Damage (as of August 5, 2020)
  ・Human damage:
    4,142 deaths
    1 person missing
    20 people seriously injured
    163 people lightly injured
  ・Damage to houses:
    15,435 units totally destroyed
    82,783 units half-destroyed
    141,044 units partially damaged
    1,061 units inundated above floor level
    351 units inundated below floor level
  ・Damage to structures other than residential houses:
   1,010 public buildings
   36,882 other structures
(Source: Fukushima Prefectural Disaster Response Headquarters)

Situation of refugees

[Evacuation centers opened by Fukushima City and the number of refugees]
Fukushima City suffered a variety of damage not only to its residents and their houses but to utility providers such as power and water supply. In response to this situation, the city opened on March 11 evacuation centers to accommodate local people in need as well as refugees from the Hama-dori region.
A maximum of 74 evacuation centers were opened during the period up to August 31, 2011 when these evacuation centers were closed. These centers accepted a total of 8,495 people including a maximum of 4,141 Fukushima City residents and 4,354 refugees from the Hama-dori region.

[The number of refugees fleeing from Fukushima City]
Due to the impact of the nuclear power plant accident, a great deal of radioactive material scattered over a broad area from the coastal Hama-dori to the central Naka-dori regions of the prefecture. Fukushima City itself was no exception, where the air radiation dose far exceeded the allowable normal level. As a result, many local residents, who were anxious about their health, voluntarily took refuge in areas outside of the city.
At its peak, on June 30, 2012, as many as 7,437 residents were living as refugees in various parts of Japan. Even as of March 31, 2020, 2,182 people were living as refugees.

[The number of refugees coming to Fukushima City]
Fukushima City accepted a large number of refugees from the surrounding Hama-dori region who had to flee from potential damage by the nuclear power plant accident.
At its peak, on August 31, 2011, as many as 12,065 people found shelter within Fukushima City, some in borrowed homes or temporary housing and others in evacuation centers. Even as of March 31, 2020, 6,351 people were still living in temporary housing and public housing which was set up with the purpose of reconstruction in mind.

[Data on the No. of refugees at peak time, June 30, 2012]


Situation of air radiation dose levels

Air radiation dose in Fukushima City recorded a maximum value of 24.24 μSv/h on March 15, 2011 (*1). In response, the city formulated the "Plan to Decontaminate our Home, Fukushima" in September 2011, embarking on spatial decontamination (of houses, roads, woods in residential areas, farmlands, etc.), which was completed by the end of March 2018. This strenuous endeavor, coupled with the natural decrease of residual radioactive material thanks to wind and rain, enabled the air radiation dose within the city to return almost to the pre-disaster level.

*After recording the maximum value of 24.24 μSv/h on March 15, 2011, it gradually dropped, but was still higher than 3 μSv/h that was still recorded on December 31 the same year at a spot subject to the highest radiation dose. This meant that the annual external exposure dose level in residential areas of Fukushima (except some districts) up to March 2013 would exceed the level "1 mSv (0.23μSv/h)" as recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) as the criterion to protect human health. This information urged Fukushima City to begin conducting spatial decontamination.

[Comparison of air radiation dose levels between major cities of the world and cities within Fukushima Prefecture]
Unit: μSv/h

[Changes in air radiation dose levels in Fukushima City]
*Some 900 lots (500m square as one lot in residential areas and 1,000m square as one lot in mountainous areas) were measured using a Nal scintillation-type survey meter.

Food safety

To secure food safety, Fukushima City has promoted initiatives as follows:

▶ For safety of food at homes: The city opened the Radiation Monitoring Center in November 2011. With cooperation of Tohoku University, the center began radiation measurement of farm products for self-consumption, such as vegetables grown in home gardens. Later, its measurement activities expanded to cover 21 locations (presently 19 locations) including city branch offices and local learning centers.
→ In FY 2019, 3,299 food items (97.5%) out of a total 3,384 items were found safely below the danger values.

All-bag inspection of rice:
Since FY 2015, no rice bags were found exceeding the regulatory value (100Bq/kg). All rice produced in and after 2017 has been also under the measurable limit (25 Bq/kg) for radioactive content.

School lunch safety inspection:
The city carried out the “Program for Whole Inspection of School Lunch” at 58 locations including elementary and junior high schools, school lunch cooking centers and nursery schools. In this inspection, one serving of cooked school lunch was checked for radioactive material every day. → Not a single problematic school lunch was found during FY 2019.

Inspection of farm products produced in Fukushima City (at time of shipment):
・Measuring equipment used: 31 units of Nal scintillation-type survey meters (lower limit of detection: 20Bq/kg) and 1 unit of a germanium semiconductor detector
・ Inspection method: All items from all farm households were inspected.
・Inspection results: All products (12,193 cases of 209 different items) were subjected to inspection. → All cases were safely below the allowable standard value.

Even under such circumstances, some farm products still continue to be under shipment restriction, as follows:
・Yuzu (a kind of citrus fruit), edible wild plants (bamboo shoots, taranome (fatsia sprounts), bracken, koshiabura, etc.), wild mushrooms, wild boar and other wild game meat, river fish varieties (limited to those from the Abukuma River system) such as yamame (landlocked salmon) and iwana (char).

*The "Shipment restriction" was enforced by the Ministry of Welfare and Labor based on the Act on Special Measures against Nuclear Disasters.

Initiatives to eliminate negative rumors

Due to negative rumors, Fukushima has faced numerous adversities, such as gaps in the prices of Fukushima farm and marine products compared to nationwide average prices, a severe slump in tourism (including school trips) and bullying against Fukushima children at schools, to name just a few.
To cope with these adversities, Fukushima has striven to disseminate correct information, promote sales activities by local government and business leaders and develop PR activities via mass media as well as educate elementary and junior high school students in subjects related to radiation exposure. Although these endeavors have produced positive results to some extent, there still remain negative rumors even today. Fukushima City is determined to continually make every possible effort to dispel anxieties over radiation and sweep away negative rumors.


Handbook


Top-level sales of Fukushima fruit


Doctor delivers a lectutre.


Radiation-related education for elementary and junior high school students

◆Reference

Source: "Market Statistical Information (Annual Report)" (From the Tokyo Central Wholesale Market website)

Health management against radiation

In order to dispel health worries, Fukushima City conducted measurement of external radiation exposure by distributing personal glass-badge-type cumulative dosimeters to interested citizens. The city also did its utmost to eliminate citizens' worries about radiation and promote their health by conducting internal human body radiation exposure surveys using a mobile whole-body counter. Any interested citizen (Fukushima City residents aged six months or older) can apply any time for receiving the internal radiation exposure examination.

External radiation exposure examination by means of cumulative dosimeter (glass-badge)
As of March 31, 2020, a cumulative total of 149,000 residents underwent external radiation exposure examinations. An evaluation of the survey by the Fukushima City Health Management Investigative Committee revealed that the increase of cancer and other diseases due to radiation is highly unlikely in the future.

Internal radiation exposure inspection by whole-body counter
As of March 31, 2020, a cumulative total of 185,103 residents underwent internal radiation exposure examination. The result was that the committed effective dose level for all these people was less than 1mSv.
Based on this data, the Fukushima City Health Management Investigative Committee expressed its view that the dose level is one that would in no way adversely affect human health.

Thyroid tests
Beginning in May 2012, Fukushima Prefecture conducted thyroid tests for those prefectural residents who were 18 years old or younger at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Implementing "Mental care"
Targeting women in the child-raising age group, Fukushima City offers counseling by clinical psychologists, taking the opportunity of medical check-ups. This initiative aims to support them by alleviating their worries and stress to ensure that they can give birth to and raise children free of worry.

Dispatch of school counselors
Upon request, Fukushima City dispatches two school counselors and three school social workers to schools, thereby promoting mental care for children and parents as well as for the teaching staff.

Care for children

【Refreshing children's minds and bodies and securing their physical exercise opportunities】
These initiatives include the dissemination of proper knowledge about radiation among the citizens to alleviate their worries and improving the environment to reduce their level of stress.

Programs for refreshing summer experiences
In order to promote the health of school children and students and to refresh them mentally and physically, Fukushima City offered opportunities for natural-world activities and mutual interaction. As many as 11,084 young people participated in these programs during the five-year period between 2011 and 2015.

Renewal of playground equipment at nursery schools and kindergartens
The city renewed playground equipment at nursery schools and kindergartens so that children can enjoy playing outdoors free of worry. (420 items at 68 establishments)

Additional playgrounds created for children


Indoor sand box "Sand Park"


Roofed all-weather sports ground


Roofed trampoline facility known as "Pyon-pyon Dome"

【Decline in children's athletic capabilities and measures for improvement】
In the wake of the great earthquake and the nuclear power plant accident that followed, our local children's athletic capabilities declined significantly. But a ray of hope is becoming increasingly visible thanks to our efforts to improve their lifestyle environment and to secure and promote additional opportunities for exercises.

Variations in total scores in the national physical fitness tests
Source: Fukushima City Board of Education (from "The survey of national physical fitness, athletic ability and exercise habits")

Decontamination efforts in Fukushima City

In Fukushima City in particular, much of the radioactive material released as a result of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident is considered to have dropped onto ground surfaces due to heavy rainfall around midnight of March 15, 2011 and caused soil contamination in wide areas. To address this serious problem, the city decided to focus on decontamination as the first step toward reconstruction from the nuclear disaster and formulated, ahead of other affected municipalities, its "Plan for Decontamination of our Home, Fukushima" (1st edition) in September 2011. Later, according to progress in decontamination, the plan was reviewed with respect to extending the plan time frame. In this manner, all of the spatial decontamination of houses, roads, woods in residential areas and farmlands as well as follow-up decontamination could be completed.

[Implementation of decontamination]
Decontamination objective
To bring the estimated annual level of additional exposure dose to 1mSv or less, based on the national government's basic guidelines.
Progress of decontamination
October 2011: Start of spatial decontamination
March 2018: Completion of spatial decontamination
(Houses: 92.730 units / roads: 3,067.5km / woods in residential areas: 1,528.7 hectares / farmlands: 5,740.5 hectares / agricultural water supply channels: 370.8km)
September 2018: Completion of follow-up decontamination (48 locations)
October 2018: Completion of removal of materials deposited on roads and roadside drainage ditches (550.6km)


Decontamination of private homes


Road decontamination


District-by-district dates for starting decontamination of houses and establishment of temporary storage facilities

[Branch office]
Watari Branch

[Committee name]
Watri District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.6.25
[Date of house decon. Start] 012.2.22
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2013.1.7
[Branch office]
Suginome Br.

[Committee name]
Suginome District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.5
[Date of house decon. Start] 2013.5.19
[Temp. storage facility est. date] -
[Branch office]
Horai Br.

[Committee name]
Horai District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.25
[Date of house decon. Start] 2012.10.10
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2014.1.16
[Branch office]
Shimizu Br.

[Committee name]
Shimizu District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.12
[Date of house decon. Start] 2012.12.5
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2014.3.13
[Branch office]
Tobu Br.

[Committee name]
Tobu District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.12
[Date of house decon. Start] 2011.10.18(Onami district)
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2012.2.6
[Date of house decon. Start] 2012.6.30(Yamaguchi district, etc.)
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2012.11.30
[Branch office]
Hokushin Br.

[Committee name]
Hokushin District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.13
[Date of house decon. Start] 2013.7.5
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2016.4.13
[Branch office]
Yoshiida Br.

[Committee name]
Yoshiida District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.8.10
[Date of house decon. Start] 2015.1.9
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2016.10.27
[Branch office]
Nishi Br.

[Committee name]
Nishi District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.28
[Date of house decon. Start] 2015.2.13
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2016.10.27
[Branch office]
Tsuchiyu Onsen-machi Br.

[Committee name]
Tsuchiyu Onsen-machi District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.18
[Date of house decon. Start] 2015.2.18
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2016.10.27
[Branch office]
Shinryo Br.

[Committee name]
Shinryo District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.20
[Date of house decon. Start] 2013.6.30
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2013.4.2
[Branch office]
Tatsugoyama Br.

[Committee name]
Tatsugoyama District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.4
[Date of house decon. Start] 2012.9.26
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2014.3.13
[Branch office]
Iizaka Br.

[Committee name]
Iizaka District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.6.29
[Date of house decon. Start] 2015.1.27
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2014.5.13
[Branch office]
Matsukawa Br.

[Committee name]
Matsukawa District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.12
[Date of house decon. Start] 2012.10.29
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2014.11.30
[Branch office]
Shinobu Br.

[Committee name]
Shinobu District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.6.11
[Date of house decon. Start] 2015.1.20
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2016.10.27
[Branch office]
Azuma Br.

[Committee name]
Azuma District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.6.28
[Date of house decon. Start] 2015.2.17
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2015.6.15
[Branch office]
Iino Br.

[Committee name]
Iino District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.6
[Date of house decon. Start] 2012.9.7
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 1.7.20113 (Iino & Tatsugoyama temp. storage facilities)
[Branch office]
Chuo-higashi Br.

[Committee name]
Chuo-higashi District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.24
[Date of house decon. Start] 2012.11.8
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2013.6.11
[Branch office]
Chuo-nishi Br.

[Committee name]
Chuo-nishi District Committee for Decontamination
[Est. date] 2012.7.31
[Date of house decon. Start] 2014.5.17
[Temp. storage facility est. date] 2014.3.13

*Except for the Onami and Watari districts, dates of commencing decontamination refer to dates when the first district briefings were held.
*According to district-by-district situations, dates of temporary storage facility establishment refer to disaster response headquarters announcement dates, dates of press conferences, or dates of approval of disaster response committees.
*As for districts where multiple storage facilities were set up, dates of the first facility establishment are entered.

Progress of decontamination work (on houses and roads)

[Transport of contaminated soil]
*Numerical values concerning contaminated soil are estimated figures only.
●As of the end of March 2020, transport of contaminated soil from temporary storage sites to intermediate storage facilities (approx. 37.9% of total or 406,887㎥) has been completed.
●Transport of all contaminated soil (1,074,000㎥, almost the equivalent in volume to one Tokyo Dome Baseball Stadium) from temporary storage sites to intermediate storage facilities is scheduled to be completed.


Loading of removed soil onto dump trucks at a temporary storage site


Transporting contaminated soil to intermediate storage facility


Briefing to local residents on house decontamination


Start of house decontamination


A temporary storage site


Loading of soil bound for intermediate storage facility


Transport of soil to intermediate storage facility (Photos courtesy of Fukushima Regional Environmental Office)


Intermediate storage facility (Photos courtesy of Fukushima Regional Environmental Office)