Hero Tsunami Doctor Still Coping With Japan's Disaster One Year Later


The 11-month old now serves as a constant reminder of that day and the precious nature of life. While Yukie thinks about the destruction she witnessed, she says the focus on her son and daughter has kept her from lingering on it.

"Children grow up so quickly," she says, as Rei attempts to walk, unsuccessfully, behind her. "I can't afford to look back. I have to move ahead."

Takeshi Kanno continues to visit the patients he saved, once a month – not as a doctor, but as a friend, he says. He places flowers by what used to be the hospital entrance, every time.

Thick mud, piles of twisted metal, and broken branches no longer cover the road out front. The sound of excavators organizing the debris echo outside, a sign of progress compared to the cries Kanno heard a year ago.

But he says the lives of his former patients remain largely unchanged. They are still in temporary, prefabricated units with no prospect of rebuilding their homes. Those who lost their jobs to the disasters are still unemployed. The elderly have become weak and sick.

"I want people to know that the battle against the earthquake [and tsunami] isn't over yet," he says. "I hope the world continues to follow our progress."

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