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Asia Minute: Southern Japan Still Reeling from Aftermath of Earthquakes

Daisuke TSUDA / Flickr
Daisuke TSUDA / Flickr

It’s been more than a week since the first of two earthquakes shook southern Japan. Nearly fifty people died in the quakes, and tens of thousands of residents are still struggling to put their lives back together. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Rain is in the forecast this weekend for Kumamoto Prefecture in southern Japan…a little more than a week after two earthquakes shook the region.  Government officials say nearly 100-thousand people remain in and around overcrowded evacuation centers, some are sleeping outside as nighttime temperatures hover in the 40’s.

National broadcaster NHK says at least eleven people have died of illnesses related to prolonged stays in the centers.  That includes some who have suffered fatal blood clots from sitting in cramped positions for too long.  The Health Ministry says some 90-thousand people remain without water.

Flooding and potential landslides are still a concern in the area.  Many businesses are uncertain about when they may re-open.  Honda’s local motorcycle factory will remain closed for another week at least.  The Wall Street Journal reports it may take more than a month for Suntory to re-start production at its soft drinks plant.  Mitsubishi Electric and Fuji Film are other large companies in the area facing an uncertain factory timeline.

Kyodo News reports nearly 800 aftershocks since last Thursday’s initial quake.  Damages are still a matter of guesswork… but insurance modeler RMS says the losses could total $3.5-billion dollars.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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