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Play now 28 mins

Episode 1

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 03 March 2012

One year after Japan's litany of disasters – an earthquake registering 8.9, a tsunami with 10-foot high waves swamping up to five kilometres inland, a nuclear accident leading to radiation leaks and mass evacuations, and 20,000 people dead or missing - Gerry Northam tours the devastated northern Pacific areas.

He reports on the survivors trying to come to terms with the loss of everything, their growing acceptance that Japanese society was losing its way and that nature - to which they give very special status - had intervened to put it back on a more spiritual path, and their tentative hope that a revived interest in things both spiritual and community-based might prove to be the lasting legacy.

He hears of the Japanese people's ongoing and over-riding sense of loss in the wake of ancestral graves and tombs being destroyed, with many survivors forced unwillingly to move away from their ancestral homes.

And he encounters yet another grievous sense of loss. Mass graves have meant the impossibility of carrying out Buddhist or Shinto rituals and 'a spirit of an ancestor who's not properly memorialised can cause problems for the living because the spirit is unhappy and not looked after properly'.

Gerry Northam also reflects on the mounting and co-ordinated sense of outrage against nuclear power which people now want abandoned, one spokesman calling it 'the same as using the devil'.

Vociferous demands for renewable energy are reaching the government, which is being criticised at the same time for being too unprepared for the disasters, and for doing too little in their aftermath.

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    Japan Earthquake

    News updates, photos, graphics, features and analysis following the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear alert in north-east Japan

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