Google Earth update gives hope for Japan’s long post-tsunami recovery

Soma, Japan after earthquake and tsunami
Credit: Google Media Tools

One year since that devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan’s eastern coast Google has released new satellite imagery of the country’s recovery.

The images, which went live on Google Maps and Google Earth today, are the latest in a number of post-earthquake/tsunami images which Google has released over the past year.  The images in this release cover most of Japan’s north-eastern coast from Aomori Prefecture to Ibaraki Prefecture.

Since the disaster struck on March 11 2011 Google has released about eight updates to its Maps and Earth applications.  Indeed, Google’s first satellite images of the area were taken within two days of the tsunami.  In the weeks that followed Google released detailed before-and-after aerial images of cities and towns devastated by the natural disaster.  And in November Google sent its Street View cars back to Japan specifically to document the aftermath.

Although many of the satellite images appear to show much of the country still reeling Google was able to show the successes the rebuilding efforts are having.  Discussing the new images Kei Kawai, Senior Product Manager for Google Maps, gave a promising assessment of the recovery;

“Since the earthquake and tsunami last March 11th, we have been updating satellite and aerial imagery of the area to show the effects of the disaster as well as the pace of rebuilding. The new imagery shows that the road to full recovery is still long. There are, however, signs of progress — from large trucks on the streets to newly repaired bridges and bustling ports.”

Google released this image showing how a number of, but not all, bridges in Minami Sanriku have been rebuilt.

Bridge in Minami Sanriku
Bridge in Minami Sanriku. Credit: Google

How to view before-and-after images of Japan.
The satellite images uploaded today will join previous images uploaded to Google Earth since 2004.  Using the “Historic Imagery” button or by clicking on View > Historic Imagery in Google Earth it is possible to see the scale of the disaster still facing Japan.  Using the timeline you can view the many updates Google has uploaded of Japan since March 2011.

Google Earth - post-earthquake/tsunami Japan - 2012
Google Earth - post-earthquake/tsunami Japan - 2012
Google Earth - pre-earthquake/tsunami Japan - 2010
Google Earth - pre-earthquake/tsunami Japan - 2010

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).