The epicenter of the accident still remains fairly traumatized. Japan got 33 percent of its electric power from nuclear and was one of the most advanced countries in developing the technology. But it may be a long time before it embraces nuclear again. All but one of Tokyo Electric Power's reactors are now shut down and half are unlikely to reopen. The resulting shortage of electricity has hurt manufacturing and led to the nation's first trade deficit in 31 years.
So far there have been no deaths or illnesses from radiation, although two older workers did die of heat stroke during the accident. Of the 31,000 people who have been evacuated, many have suffered from depression and a few have committed suicide. Radiation levels in the region are now about twice normal background. People in various parts of the world live with background 1,000 times as high, but extremely strict standards prevent Fukushima evacuees from returning to their homes.
Strong anti-nuclear movements have become politically powerful and several leading newspapers are keeping up a constant drumbeat of alarm. It is unlikely that Japan will be building any more reactors in the near future. Government officials have indicated, however, that Japanese industries will continue to sell their excellent nuclear products abroad. Westinghouse, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi are all world-leading manufacturers.
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