It's been a big couple of weeks for U.S. news, what with the bin Laden news last week and the deadly tornadoes the week before. It's enough to make one forget that front page-worthy stuff keeps happening elsewhere, especially in Japan, where they're a long way from over that earthquake and tsunami from March. Remember that thing? Two big stories today might have made the front page of many papers if the last couple months had gone differently. Here are a few noteworthy stories that have been somewhat overlooked as the world's news cycle moves on:
- The earthquake on March 11 shifted the ground so much that some towns in northeastern Japan now flood twice a day at high tide. "In port cities such as Onagawa and Kesennuma, the tide flows in and out among crumpled homes and warehouses along now uninhabited streets," The Associated Press reports. Residents must time their shopping around the new tidal patterns so that they don't get stranded by flood waters. "Scientists say the new conditions are permanent."
- The nation will be hard-pressed to keep electricity flowing after nuclear plant operator Chubu Electric agreed today to shut down three reactors at a coastal power plant while a sea wall is built to protect them. Reports the Associated Press: "Nuclear energy provides more than one-third of Japan's electricity, and shutting the Hamaoka plant is likely to exacerbate power shortages expected this summer. The three reactors account for more than 10 percent of Chubu's power supply."
- In a brewing scandal, a day laborer from Osaka answered a help-wanted ad for a truck driver and found himself cleaning up debris at the damaged and radioactive Fukushima power plant. "He didn't receive a radiation badge until the fourth day on the job and ... the work was different from what he had been promised," reported the Japan Times.
- As the government and utility companies involved in the nuclear scare at Fukushima work out the details of a compensation plan, the damages could include unfounded fears of radiation sparked by bad information. "In its initial guidelines in late April, the [government advisory] panel did not include farm and fishery losses linked to such fears but is now planning to cover them in its next guidelines if they are closely related to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture, officials said."