Brazil Reacts to Japan Tragedy

By Patricia Maresch, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Japanese Consulate in Rio de Janeiro opened their phone lines for people seeking information about the devastation in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. So far, mostly Brazilian journalists have called, said a spokeswoman at the consulate. “Most Japanese in Brazil contact their families directly by phone or online. Others turn to the Japanese embassy in Brasília,” she explained.

Television coverage of Japan tragedy, photo by deepapraveen, Flickr/Creative Commons licence

Television coverage of Japan tragedy, photo by deepapraveen/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Around 150,000 Japanese or Japanese descendants live in Rio, and Brazil is home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. There are 1.5 million people of Japanese origin living in Brazil, mostly in greater São Paulo and Paraná. The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil in 1908.

President Dilma Roussef sent a message of sympathy to Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan. “The Brazilian government and people send our most sincere condolences and solidarity in the face of this disaster that struck Japan” the message read. Dilma stressed she believes in the competence and commitment of the Japanese to recover quickly from the tragedy, but stated that Brazil is available should Japan need international support.

The Brazilian solidarity with Japan is deeply felt by the nipo-brasileiros, as Japanese Brazilians are called. Akiyoshi Shika, the president of the Japanese Association in Rio de Janeiro who has lived in Rio for 53 years, said he was deeply moved by the way Brazil reacts to the tragedy. “This great concern for our people and our country is very special,” he told Brazilian media outlets.

Brazil’s ambassador in Japan, Marcos Galvão, said there are about 260,000 Brazilians living in Japan, and there are no reports of Brazilian casualties. “Most Brazilians live in the southern part of Japan, where the quake was lighter”, according to the ambassador. The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs received almost 4,000 e-mails and phone calls from worried Brazilians wanting information about family members.

Nuclear power plant Angra dos Reis, photo by Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr Creative Commons License

Nuclear power plant Angra dos Reis, photo by Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr Creative Commons License.

The danger of a meltdown at Japanese nuclear plants also sparked concerns around the Brazilian power plants Angra 1 and 2, Brazil’s sole state-run nuclear-power producer located at the Itaorna beach in Angra dos Reis at the Costa Verde (Green Coast) in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Eletronuclear which operates the plant, accounts for the generation of approximately 3 percent of electric power consumed in Brazil, and more than 50 percent of electric power consumption in the State of Rio de Janeiro. Angra 3 is under construction and expected to be operational in 2015.

Brazilian newspaper O Dia reported that there are no suitable escape routes for the 180,000 population in case of a nuclear accident. There is only one road between the sea and the mountains with some stretches under construction and many road signs are covered by vegetation. The road seems insufficient for a mass exodus, and those living in the surroundings of the power plant are not properly trained for emergencies, wrote the newspaper.

Eletronuclear issued a statement saying that the region has a low risk of earthquakes or tsunamis. The plant operates under strict and safe conditions and there is an emergency plan covering an area with a radius of fifteen kilometers around the nuclear installation.

For more information from the Japanese Consulate in Rio de Janeiro, see their web site.

10 Responses to "Brazil Reacts to Japan Tragedy"

  1. Pingback: No Nukes vs Go Nukes | The Rio Times

  2. Vania Maciel  March 16, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Nuclear energy has been proven quite deadly and dangerous more than once. I do not know why they insist in keeping or building nuclear power plants.
    Even more stupid it seems is to build them beside the sea making the plants, people and the environment more exposed to danger.
    Wind, sea water and sun have been proven efficient and clean.

    Somehow governments seem not interested in then. Why? It seems insane to me.

  3. Luiz  March 16, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    The Brazilian solidarity with Japan is NONE! It is a SHAME that Brazilian president merely “send our most sincere condolences and solidarity”! What a completely EMPTY gesture! NO REAL HELP AT ALL! No money, no food and supplies, no medicines, no doctors, no logistics support, no vessels, no airplanes, no experts, NO REAL HUMANITARIAN HELP AT ALL! This is a SHAME to Brazil!

  4. Cameron  March 17, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    To Vania Maciel:

    Nuclear energy certainly can be dangerous in situations like these but you need to understand why governments use it. The largest energy provider in the world is coal. It’s cheap, easy to extract and use, safe and there is A LOT of it. But, it’s very polluting. Nuclear energy is a clean burning energy so doesn’t send pollutants into the atmosphere. But, this creates physical nuclear waste that needs to be disposed of properly. A nuclear power plant is almost always put on the coast or by a very large river as it needs water to function. Plants use nuclear fission reactions to heat water to create steam which in turn is used to create electricity.

    “Wind, sea water and sun have been proven efficient and clean.” Your statement seems to lack any real merit. Wind and solar energy are almost totally clean (Aside from energy used to make them). But the energy output is way too low to supply our energy needs. By sea water, I assume you mean tidal energy? If so, I’m afraid at the moment it is way too expensive and lacks any real major benefit from its small electricity output. Hydroelectric energy is certainly a proven energy supplier (Brazil gets over 85% of its electricity from hydro) But this also has problems with distroying surrounding nature. The major problem with all these clean energy sources is they can’t be used by themselves to replace baseline energy. Wind and solar are too temperamental and rivers fall and flows slow right down. Nature is unpredictable thats why we will have to rely on energy sources like coal and nuclear for quite some time to come.

    It’s also worth noting that more people have died from dam failures than nuclear power station failures. It seems it doesn’t matter where we get our energy, there is always a risk to life during accidents. Also, I’m not necessarily a pro nuclear supporter, I just look at how we get our energy.

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  6. Bas  March 21, 2011 at 8:11 AM

    Brazil should invest in solar energy! It is a reliable decentralized system for energy production. To start off it should be demanded that airconditionings are powered by solar cells during the day.
    There is so much sun in Brazil! Use it :)

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