Death Toll Climbs Rapidly in Japan as Recovery Begins

Updates from what the prime minister calls Japan's "worst crisis since World War II"

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As citizens in Tokyo tried to head back to work Monday, the Japanese government worked to stabilize the nation during what prime minister Naoto Kan called the "worst crisis since World War II." As of now, the official death toll from the Kyodo News Agency stands at 1,598 with 1,720 people missing, but news reports over the weekend suggest that more than 10,000 could have died from the powerful earthquake and tsunami. "Some 350,000 people have reportedly become homeless and were staying in shelters, reported the New York Times. Basic food delivery to earthquake hit areas was deemed insufficient, leaving refugees to scour for food and gasoline as the transportation infrastructure ground to a halt.

One of the most closely watched flashpoints of the devastation in Japan has been the malfunctioning nuclear reactors in the seaside Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. As the world watched on Friday, radiation levels in and around the area rose as multiple explosions occurred at the plant. The U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet, stationed 100 miles offshore from the nuclear facility, had said that some of its personnel had come into contact with radioactive contamination, the Washington Post reported. Since there are numerous, and often times conflicting, reports being issued about the current state of the nuclear facilities, we'd refer readers to The Atlantic's primer on how to sift through contradictory news releases about the facility.

In response to the devastation, the Bank of Japan has injected $220 billion into the money market to stabilize the nation's financial prospects in the short term, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Journal noted that the financial damage that the natural disaster caused could, according to one financial analysis, incur damages "of $15 billion to $35 billion—positioning the economic cost to possibly surpass all other natural catastrophes."

International rescue teams have gathered to aid Japan in the recovery effort. "Eighty-eight governments and six international institutions have offered assistance with recovery efforts, the Japanese Foreign Ministry announced, (via the Los Angeles Times). President Obama has stated that the main assistance that the U.S. will be giving Japan will be in its "lift capacity," meaning that helicopters and planes will be dispatched to carry heavy loads of emergency supplies to affected areas.

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