On March 11th, 2011, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan struck the Tohoku region. An earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 shook the country, and the tsunami that followed soon after rose up to 40 meters high. Lives were swallowed up without mercy. More than 15,000 people died, and there are people still missing today.

It has already been five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Five years may seem like a long time, yet there are people who still cannot go back to their own houses. There are places that people are still not allowed to enter due to danger of being exposed to high radiation that could lead to life-threatening diseases. While damaged areas are being fixed one at a time, it seems as though there is a long way to go until the Tohoku region thrives once more.

Whenever a natural disaster hits a country, people from all around the world may donate money and pray for that country. However, as days, months, and years pass by, the event becomes old. It becomes something that happened in the past. As individuals who did not actually experience the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan that day, it is quite easy for us to forget about the event. For people whose lives were changed because of 3/11, it is a different story though. The damages the earthquake and tsunami left, both physically and mentally, on land and inside people’s hearts are still as strong and vivid as they were when the natural disaster destroyed their homes and took away lives of loved ones.

With many tragic events announced on the news every day, it is hard to follow up and keep track of how well a country is recovering after natural disasters or terrorist attacks. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that even if you are only concerned about the event for a few days, there are people still struggling due to the event even after you move on to learn about another event happening somewhere else in the world. Just because something is not on the news anymore does not signify that the problem is all solved.

Finding out that it has already been five years since 3/11, I decided to research a little bit about how things are right now in the Tohoku area. Have people rebuilt their houses? Can people fish and eat seafood from the sea nearby the nuclear power plants? How about agriculture? Are the fruits and vegetables made in farms safe to eat? I was surprised to find out that there are people still living in temporary accommodations. I was also surprised to find out that while the radiation level of seafood, fruits, and vegetables are safe in most places now, it seems as though people are not buying food from the Tohoku area scared for possible health effects. Among the negative news, a story caught my eye that made me smile. 

Taiwan was among the first countries to extend a helping hand to Japan, donating almost the same amount of money as the United States donated to Japan. When questioned why they helped Japan so much, Taiwanese people responded by saying that Japan had shown them goodwill back in 1999 when Taiwan was hit with an earthquake by sending a 145 member rescue team and donating money. The money donated by Taiwan has already been used to fix a bridge, rebuild a hospital, and more. Even though there has been a lot that has happened between the two countries in the past, it is really heart warming to see Taiwan and Japan helping each other out. Finding out about this story, it made me wonder how the world would be different if all countries had relationships similar to what Taiwan and Japan has now.

Just as I was able to find out more about how Japan is recovering from 3/11, anyone can easily learn more about how countries are recovering from tragic events. Are there any natural disaster, terrorist attacks, or any other event that happened in the past that you want to follow up on? Do a quick search on the internet, and you will most likely find positive and negative stories that you would not have known if you did not take the time to research. You may also find out that there are people seeking for help, and that there are many things you can do to better lives of people who are struggling.

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