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The Disasters of March 11th


  • James Dwyer,

  • Kenzo Hamano,

  • Hsuan Hui Wei


On March 11, 2011, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded occurred off the northeast coast of Japan. It destroyed buildings, damaged infrastructure, and killed people in the Tohoku region. The associated tsunami was even more destructive, engulfing coastal areas and obliterating whole towns. The earthquake and the tsunami together occasioned a third disaster: the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Like most people, Dr. Makoto Sato was horrified by the destruction and suffering that he saw. He wanted to help and felt that he should, but doing something appropriate and effective was not easy. He is a general internist and bioethicist at a university medical center in Hokkaido, the large island north of Tohoku.

What should Dr. Sato have done then? What should he do now?