On March 11, 2011, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0—the strongest ever recorded in Japan—struck off its northeast coast. It precipitated a tsunami that swept over the Japanese mainland, killing more than 15,000 people and displacing many more. The tsunami jeopardized the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, overpowering the seawalls and damaging its power supply, including backup generators. Heat buildup inside the reactors caused hydrogen explosions at Units 1, 3, and 4, and an initial 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) evacuation zone was expanded to 20 kilometers (12 miles); by March 13, 170,000 to 200,000 people had been evacuated. The International Atomic Energy Agency classified the accident as a Level 7 incident; Chernobyl is the only other accident to be classified at this maximum level.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, crops of leafy greens, vegetables, and milk from Fukushima were banned as they exceeded safety thresholds for radioactive materials. Nicolas...

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