What happened in Fukushima after the Great East Japan Earthquake

Goodbye without Leaving

On December 1, 2012, the year after the Great East Japan Earthquake, Dr. Pauline Boss held a lecture in Fukushima.


During her presentation, Dr. Boss stated that the situation in Fukushima following the earthquake was a Type 2 “Goodbye without leaving” kind of ambiguous loss. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, the following problems occurred in Fukushima.


  • The land was still there, but is no longer what it was.
  • The families still exist, but many are now separated, no longer able to live as one family under one roof.
  • Friends and neighbors are still exsist, but are no longer nearby to provide comfort and social support.


The problem is called “ambiguous loss”.


Several years have passed, and evacuation orders have been gradually lifted in areas where evacuation was forced immediately after the earthquake.  Though people can now live there, many have decided in the last few years to leave their hometowns and move to new areas. Many people have deep feelings about their homeland, but maintain a deep sense of loss that has forced them to leave.

This can be referred to as ambiguous loss type 1, “Leaving without a goodbye”.


The nuclear power plant accident at Fukushima after the Great East Japan Earthquake has resulted in many cases of ambiguous loss in those who have returned to their homes, and in those who have not or cannot return.


But Dr. Pauline Boss tells us, “Even in loss without closure, people can take the next step forward.”


In Fukushima today, there are government officials and supporters who work hard so that the people of Fukushima can live with peace of mind. People in various industrial sectors are also working steadily to rebuild. There are also events which people who have left their hometowns can comfortably participate.


The search is ongoing for “people who live together, despite ambiguous loss.”