Japan Quake: The World Reacts

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On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck northeast Japan, quickly followed by a devastating tsunami. While many Japanese have evacuated, thousands continue to seek refuge in local evacuation centres, short on essentials like electricity, fuel and water.

As the country has battled to recover against the backdrop of an unfolding crisis at one of its nuclear plants, the world has responded with an outpouring of sympathy and offers of assistance. Associate Editor Ulara Nakagawa travelled to one of the worst affected areas and took a series of haunting pictures of the aftermath in Sendai. The Diplomat has put together a collection of the most striking images, combined with responses to what Prime Minister Naoto Kan rightly described as the nation’s darkest period since World War II.

Japan Quake: The World Reacts
"At my school, one of the lessons they like to teach us is about what we can do for the outside world. Making 1,000 paper cranes would show Japan that we’re encouraging them to get better. ... I think all over the world everyone’s heart’s desire is that Japan gets better. " — Carolyn Hoover, sixth-grader at Norwood School in Bethesda, Maryland
Japan Quake: The World Reacts
"What I thought unbelievable was that no stores, including food retailers, had been looted. When I stayed in California during some wildfires, I was surprised by people smashing the windows of downtown stores. In New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina, the National Guard took to the streets with rifles soon after the disaster. In this country, the fact that things like that don’t happen, is truly a miracle. " — Chikirin, Japanese blogger
Japan Quake: The World Reacts
"My parents said that it's fortunate to have this major earthquake in Japan. Even though it caused huge damage, Japan as a country and as a nation has the most endurance for earthquakes. I'll definitely not forget this experience nor the emotions involved. Sadness, helplessness, helping each other, and being thankful." — @chimamirei, Japanese student and Twitter user (retweeted by Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist and activist)
Japan Quake: The World Reacts
"I've been inspired by Japan for many years and have a true love, appreciation and respect for the Japanese people and their culture. The disaster in Japan is beyond heartbreaking, and I want to do anything I can to help." — Gwen Stefani, American pop singer and fashion designer (who donated $1 million to relief efforts.)
Japan Quake: The World Reacts
"We must all be grateful that the Japanese government's disaster preparedness measures prevented the death and destruction from being much worse." — the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader
Japan Quake: The World Reacts
"After the quake, Japanese company Suntory announced that all of its vending machines would be supplying beverages for free. Just a click of the button, and a drink will come out! I am so deeply moved…This is the national image…Even as Japan's been hit with such a disaster, the Japanese have taught the entire world a lesson." — @Moe_DD, Chinese Twitter user
Japan Quake: The World Reacts
"I express my deepest sympathy and condolences to victims who lost their lives and their families...My prayers will be with you." — Bae Yong-Joon, South Korean actor (who donated 900,000 dollars to relief efforts)
Japan Quake: The World Reacts
"I am confident that Japan will recover and rebuild because of the strength and spirit of the Japanese people. Over the last few days, they’ve opened up their homes to one another. They’ve shared scarce resources of food and water. They’ve organized shelters, provided free medical care, and looked out for their most vulnerable citizens. One man put it simply: 'It’s a Japanese thing. When hard times hit, we have to help each other.'" — Bae Yong-Joon, South Korean actor (who donated 900,000 dollars to relief efforts)
Japan Quake: The World Reacts
"...perhaps the power of art may be able to provide some ray of hope for our society in these dark and trying circumstances...Tomorrow will always arrive. The sun will always rise again." — Takashi Murakami, Japanese artist
Japan Quake: The World Reacts
"The current situation of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear plants is in a way the most severe crisis in the past 65 years since World War II. Whether we Japanese can overcome this crisis depends on each of us. I strongly believe that we can get over this great earthquake and tsunami by joining together." — Naoto Kan, Japanese prime minister
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