March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011: Heroes of Otsuchi to Fleeing Embassies

March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011: Heroes of Otsuchi to Fleeing Embassies

Kanako Itamae and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

This article is published in the memory of the “Fire brigade Heroes of Otsuchi” – and remembering how so-called friends of Japan fled quickly. 

The brutal events of March 11, 2011, will always be remembered in Japan for the utter devastation of the Great East Japan Earthquake. This brutal earthquake left areas of Japan shaking with such a force that was beyond imagination. Remember, this is said despite the many brutal earthquakes that have hit Japan and killed so many before the events of March 11, 2011. Indeed, the calamity of the earthquake that triggered the deadly tsunami also triggered a major nuclear radiation crisis in Fukushima.

Aftershocks were also relentless in the following weeks and this led to a time of enormous reflection and foreboding for people affected by the devastating chain reaction. It is known that just below 16,000 people perished but this figure is much higher because several thousand people remain missing. Hence, enormous suffering engulfed Japan. Meanwhile, the destruction of a nuclear facility in Fukushima increased the psychological war despite the shadow of death is overwhelmingly based on the tsunami.

Not surprisingly, many great heroic people rescued unknown numbers of people and services dedicated to the wellbeing of people gave everything – including the ultimate sacrifice of death. Sadly, like humanity in general, you also had the opposite direction. This notably applied to illogical scaremongering related to the radiation crisis in Fukushima, despite these people residing in areas that were extremely distant from Fukushima. Therefore, some international embassies pulled their nationals out of wealthy areas in Tokyo – just like many foreign nationals fled the country or Tokyo region.

Unlike self-centered individuals and organizations, the bravery of so many came to light either within the local area, at a regional level, or nationally throughout Japan. Of course, it is nigh impossible to pick one collection of heroes but from a national point of view, the bravery of the Otsuchi Fire Brigade remains etched within the memory.

In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times, it was stated, “The No. 2 branch of the fire brigade in Otsuchi knew full well that they were guardians on the abyss of death and destruction. Yet, the fire brigade did not flinch – unlike certain embassies and others who fled from distant Tokyo. Indeed, some foreign nationals even left Japan in panic despite being in the comfort of safety at all time. This reality highlights the utter devotion of the No. 2 fire brigade of Otsuchi because to these brave souls other people came first.”

Hence, on the one hand in Otsuchi you had the brave souls of the No. 2 Fire Brigade in the Akahama district sacrificing the ultimate; while in the other direction some dignitaries and others fled leafy suburbs in Tokyo and fled. Yet, the No. 2 Fire Brigade in Otsuchi who were on the frontline did everything in order to rescue people. Immediately, it became known that four fire brigade members had perished and another seven were presumed dead based on being missing. Irrespective of the final numbers who perished from this unit, the fact is they gave everything based on the positive side of humanity.

Modern Tokyo Times reported in a past article that “A fire brigade hero called Fujio Koshida was still sounding the warning bell while the waves were about to engulf him and sweep him away from this world. Takeyasu Tobai, the former head of the same branch of the local fire brigade, reported that he could hear the bell that Fujio Koshida was ringing prior to this hero being engulfed by the tsunami.”

Takeyasu Tobai reports, “I guess he could see the sea” and “It was a sad sound. I can still hear it.”  

Fujio Koshida and other brave members of the local fire brigade in Otsuchi sacrificed everything in order that others could survive the devastating tsunami. Hence, it is sincerely hoped that these brave souls will always be remembered because they showed the beauty of humanity.

Sadly, in the other direction, it will always be known that certain embassies, international workers, and others fled the country – or region of Tokyo – at the drop of a hat. This fact exists despite these people never being endangered by the brutal tsunami that was triggered by the earthquake.

Overall, many brave people who will never be known sacrificed the ultimate. Similarly, many people survived despite endangering themselves because they cared for strangers and neighbors alike. So the memory of the Fire Brigade heroes of Otsuchi will never be forgotten. Therefore, they represent the collective memory of all people who helped in countless prefectures that were severely hit by the events triggered by the brutal Great East Japan Earthquake.


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