The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March this year made the world tremble because of the serious consequences it could have on the recovery of the world economy and on the future of nuclear energy as a desirable option for power generation.
Economic impact of the tragedy
The large stock markets had a week of widespread declines due to the natural phenomenon. The Nikkei index, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, ended up down more than 10 percent. That the third power of the planet could suffer a catastrophe of this magnitude was not in the minds of any of the analysts who predicted the future at the beginning of this year.
Analysts cut GDP growth forecasts for Japan in half, as the earthquake left serious consequences not only in the health issue, but also in the logistics and commercial areas. Before March, the growth forecast for this year was 1.7 percent and later it was reduced to 0.8 percent.
It was always said that the real effects of this catastrophe would depend on the ability of the planet’s third power to overcome it. And nine months later, Japan overcame the tsunami pothole. The GDP grew between July and September 5.6 percent compared to the same period of the previous year. Despite this recovery, the Japanese economy was able to contract in the last quarter of the year due to the fact that the debt crisis in Europe, the slowdown in other economies and the persistent strength of the yen could affect Japanese production and exports. According to Bank of Japan estimates, the economy will grow 0.3 percent this year; 2.2 percent in 2012 and 1.5 percent in 2013.
Several analysts pointed out that after each catastrophe that Japan has suffered, the recovery is always better than the previous time, thanks to the impetus of the construction sector and, above all, to the strength of the population.
Some important facts about the earthquake in Japan
The combined total of confirmed and missing deaths is more than 22,000 — nearly 20,000 dead and 2,500 missing — according to the Japan Fire and Disaster Management Agency. The deaths were caused by the initial earthquake and tsunami and by post-disaster health conditions.
At the time of the earthquake, Japan had 54 nuclear reactors, two under construction, and 17 power plants, which produced about 30% of Japan’s electricity, according to IAEA data in 2011.
Material damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami is estimated at around 25 trillion yen (about 300 billion dollars).
There are six reactors at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, located about 65 km south of Sendai.
A microsievert (mSv) is an internationally recognized unit of radiation measurement. People are typically exposed to a total of about 1,000 microsieverts in a year.