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.