Japan

Letter from Japan

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Six months on from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Dave Handley assesses the mood in Japan.

On 11 March the biggest earthquake in Japan's recorded history struck off the coast of north eastern Honshu and the resulting tsunami wreaked havoc for millions of people. More than 25,000 have been reported dead or missing and many more are coming to terms with the human and economic cost, and the reality that they'll never be able to return to their former homes. The sheer scale of the damage and the resulting debris is mind-boggling.

Japan's nuclear nightmare

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The true extent of the destruction that followed the Japanese earthquake and tsunami is only just being
seen. But it is clear that many thousands of people have lost their lives and billions of pounds worth of damage has been done.

A further casualty of this natural disaster may well be the plans to expand the use of nuclear power. Japan is the third largest user of nuclear power, with over 50 nuclear plants which provide over a third of its electricity. The magnitude 9 earthquake was greater than the plants were designed to withstand - yet such earthquakes could certainly have been foreseen.

A Tokyo Story

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Filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu is hardly a household name in Britain, but he truly is one of the world's greatest directors.

For those who don't know Ozu's work, now is your chance. Over the next few months many of his films, such as Late Spring (1949), Early Spring (1956) and Floating Weeds (1959), will be showing around the country. Just as importantly, his masterpiece, the heartrending Tokyo Story (1953), is being re-released on DVD.

Japan: All in the Family

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The history and myths behind Japan's imperial dynasty

Japan's Crown Princess Masako gave birth to a girl in early December - no ordinary child, this, but potentially the heir to an imperial dynasty that claims a 2,600-year unbroken line. The press, when it was not using the language of a stud farm to discuss the problems of a family 'running out of its stock of males' because no boy babies had been 'produced' since 1965, filled its pages with stories and pictures of happy flag-waving subjects.

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