Japan

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The tsunami that struck Japan four years ago sent about five million tons of debris into the Pacific Ocean. On Friday, workers started unloading one million pounds of that debris that arrived by barge in south Seattle.

A pair of World War II veterans from the Pacific Northwest and their escorts will return 70 inscribed Japanese flags Tuesday directly to the prime minister of Japan.

Rex Ziak

Some aging veterans of World War Two are embarking on one more mission related to that long ago war. In some cases, wives or children are taking on the mission if the vet has passed away. The object is to return Japanese flags taken as war souvenirs from Pacific battlefields.

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Oregon scientists are trying to figure out how a fish, native to Japan, was pulled out of a crab pot on the Oregon coast - alive.

“I’ve been thinking about it ever since I heard about it,” says John Chapman, an invasive species expert at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

He says there’s only a handful of ways the striped knifejaw could make it here: in the ballast water of a ship; someone could have dumped their aquarium into the ocean; or the fish survived under debris washed out to sea after the Japanese tsunami.

Oregon State University

Winter storms off the Oregon and Washington coastlines are expected to bring a new wave of debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Scientists say objects are already washing ashore – with potentially invasive organisms riding along.

Stacey Camp

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 government officials rounded up Japanese Americans and sent them to harsh, ill-equipped camps. Now, the National Park Service has announced $3 million in new grants to help preserve that important history. One Northwest archeologist is working to keep a remote Idaho site on the map. 


Friends of MacDonald

After 180 years, it's not too late to say thank you. That's what a Japanese delegation did on a visit last week to the Makah Indian Reservation on the Washington coast.

Sueann Ramella / NWPR

Off Crooked Mile Road in Granite Falls, Washington stands a giant wooden Torii. This Japanese arch marks the entrance to the only Shinto shrine on mainland U.S. soil: the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America. It’s serene here cedar trees rising up along the banks of the Pilchuck River.

At its best, Natsuo Kirino's The Goddess Chronicle is a dark and lovely feminist retelling of the Japanese creation myth. At worst, it's a stiff, repetitive exercise in telling, not showing.

Here on the western coast of the U.S., we have a special connection to Japan. The ocean between us keeps bringing remnants from the massive tsunami there. It left more than 16,000 people dead. The debris is expensive to remove and can carry invasive species with it.


A collector of World War II memorabilia has succeeded in a daunting quest thanks to help from the Japanese government. The veteran from Clarkston, Washington has found the right person to receive a Japanese war flag taken in battle nearly 70 years ago.


Years ago, memorabilia collector George Koller bought an inscribed "good luck flag." It originally belonged to a Japanese fighter pilot killed in combat. Last year, Koller asked the Japanese consulate in Seattle for help to give the flag back.

An anti-whaling group has filed a lawsuit in Oregon court in an effort to freeze the assets of a Japanese whaling fleet. EarthFix reporter Amelia Templeton says it’s the latest twist in a legal battle that began with a confrontation at sea.

Photo courtesy Wash. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

State and federal biologists say they are confident they have minimized the invasive species threat posed by a derelict dock that washed ashore last month in Olympic National Park. The concrete and steel dock appears to have drifted across the Pacific Ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan. But correspondent Tom Banse reports the story is not over yet.

Lull Or Tail End Of Japanese Tsunami Debris?

Dec 6, 2012
Photo by Tom Banse

It’s been more than four months since the last confirmed piece of Japanese tsunami debris washed ashore on the Pacific Northwest coast. Even sightings of suspected disaster debris have tapered way off in recent months. Does that mean we’re just in a lull or past the worst of it? Correspondent Tom Banse reports from the coast.

Delta Airlines wants to expand service to Asia. By next summer it plans to offer non-stop flights from Seattle to Shanghai, China. The airline will also offer nonstop flights between Seattle and Tokyo. The additional international service will be expanded through its partnership with Alaska Airlines.

Delta CEO Richard Anderson announced the proposed routes Monday morning at SeaTac Airport. He says delta will fly Boeing 747-400 jets to Japan’s Narita Airport…

Shelly Pollock

For the first time, the Japanese government says it will help to cover some of the cost of cleaning up tsunami debris on American and Canadian shores. Confirmed debris swept to sea by last year's Japanese tsunami began to wash up here this spring.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Wednesday will mark the 67th anniversary of the Japanese surrender to end World War Two. With each passing anniversary, there are fewer and fewer living witnesses to the event. Correspondent Tom Banse reports time is also running low for an aging U.S. Marine veteran who wants to return a captured Japanese war flag.

Photo courtesy UW College of Engineering

Two major earthquakes last year raised red flags for the Northwest. Some of the damage from those quakes in Japan and New Zealand resulted from a phenomenon called liquefaction. This is when the ground turns to jello or quicksand. Transmission towers topple, buildings sink and utility pipes break. Now, geologists in the Northwest have mapped the spots most likely to liquefy here in an earthquake. Correspondent Tom Banse begins our story in Japan.

Photo by Shelly Pollock

More than 700 volunteers turned out Thursday to help pick up litter and flotsam on the Oregon and southwest Washington coasts. Volunteers were on alert for debris from last year's tsunami in Japan. There were some possible new finds on Long Beach, Washington. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

The fifth of July is a traditional beach cleanup day in Manzanita and Seaside, Oregon and on Washington's Long Beach Peninsula. The coordinator of Manzanita's cleanup estimates the three dump truck loads hauled away were "99 percent fireworks" related.

Oregon Sets Out Dumpsters For Tsunami Debris Clean-up

Jun 29, 2012

Oregon is putting out dumpsters at coastal parks for beachgoers to throw away tsunami debris. Governor John Kitzhaber announced Thursday he’s appointed an interagency team to coordinate efforts to dispose of materials washed up from last year’s Japanese tsunami.

No Decision Yet On The Fate of Tsunami Debris

Jun 11, 2012

Oregon Parks officials are still weighing their options for the giant piece of tsunami debris that washed up on the Oregon coast this week. The Japanese dock continues to draw onlookers to the beach near Newport.

A giant piece of Japanese tsunami debris on the Oregon coast is now scraped free of what marine biologists worried were invasive species. The floating dock landed on the beach near Newport this week. Park rangers and volunteers worked quickly [today] Thursday to remove seaweed, mussels and barnacles, some of which are found only in Japanese waters. Meanwhile, the massive hulk has attracted hundreds of onlookers. Correspondent Tom Banse spoke with O.J Cortez of Reedsport.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

You might find it unsettling to move to a place where some residents routinely scan their groceries with a Geiger counter. Also in this place, automated radiation monitors stand guard outside parks and schools. The place we're talking about is Minamisoma, Japan... just down the road from the nuclear reactors that melted down last year. But a 23-year-old art instructor from Pendleton says volunteering in this shaken city is like living a dream. She's helping out in her hometown's sister city. Correspondent Tom Banse visited Japan's Fukushima Prefecture and has this report.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Networ

Over the past year, people and businesses in the Pacific Northwest have contributed tens of millions of dollars to Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief. It's an unfamiliar situation for a wealthy, industrialized country like Japan to be the recipient of international relief funds. Correspondent Tom

Photo by David Baxter. / Northwest News Network

Another piece of confirmed tsunami debris – part of a restaurant sign – has washed ashore in Alaska. But marine scientists can’t say how much other Japanese disaster debris is trailing behind. This problem surfaced at a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday. As correspondent Tom Banse reports, researchers are now getting some access to spy satellite imagery.

Photo courtesy U.S. Navy

The first items of debris swept into the Pacific Ocean by last year's big tsunami in Japan are turning up on the Northwest coast. More is out there drifting our way. The state of Washington hosted a meeting Wednesday to prepare local governments and beachgoers for what to do about this. Oregon held similar meetings last week. Here's the takeaway: tsunami debris pickup depends largely on you. Correspondent Tom Banse is beach side with the latest.

Photo credit: Chris Noland / Northwest News Network

An Everett, Washington, man is excited for the U.S. premiere Friday of his documentary about last year’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan. The first-hand account will also get its Canadian premiere in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday night, almost precisely one year after the disaster. Correspondent Anna King has his story.

Photo courtesy of Sea Shepherd.

SEATTLE – A federal judge in Seattle Thursday refused a request for protection made by Japanese whalers. The whalers were hoping to put a stop to almost daily harassment by an aggressive anti-whaling group based in western Washington. Correspondent Tom Banse has more on the story.