Almost every destructive earthquake opens social and political fault lines as well as natural ones, and those of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 are notable only for their local depth and global circulation. Seismicity is a geographically selective concern, but because radiation is involved in the present instance, the stake-holders in debates surrounding the earthquake are much more numerous and spread over a far wider map. In fact seismicity, as opposed to radiation, has receded in most contemporary discussions of the earthquake's aftermath, just as “Sanriku,” the area most damaged by the tsunami, has been displaced by “Fukushima” as shorthand for the event as a whole.

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