This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Even More Populations at Risk in Japan

As rescue efforts go forward in Japan, it is clear that the number of deaths from the combined earthquake and tsunami will be in the thousands, if not the tens of thousands. The New York Times reports that:
Japanese news media estimates of the death toll from the natural disasters ranged from 1,300 to 1,700, but the total could rise. Many communities were scrambling to find the missing; in the port town of Minamisanriku, nearly 10,000 people were unaccounted for, according to the public broadcaster NHK. Much of the northeast was impassable, and by late Saturday rescuers had not arrived in the worst-hit areas.
The continual swaying and rolling of the ground deepened the disorientation of a nation accustomed to disaster, but which has not experienced anything on this scale for generations.
Residents in the hardest hit northern part of the country are without food and water and, of course, the threat of disease is a serious one, even in a country that has the world's highest life expectancy. On top of that is the fear that at least one, and perhaps two, nuclear plants may experience a meltdown, which will have further horrific consequences.
The developments at two separate nuclear plants prompted the evacuation of more than 200,000 people. Japanese officials said they had also ordered up the largest mobilization of their Self-Defense Forces since World War II to assist in the relief effort.
Keep in mind that at the end of WWII the population of Japan was about 80 million. It is now more than 50 percent higher than that--about 127 million--so no previous earthquake or Tsunami had the opportunity to put so many people at risk as has this set of natural events. Most disturbing about what is happening in Japan is that it is taking place in one of the most advanced civilizations ever in human history, with knowledge of and experience with earthquakes and tsunamis, and yet the number of victims is huge.

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