Hats Off to Japan

Fauxtography: Photographs show an area in Japan rebuilt a year after the 2011 earthquake/tsunami.

Claim:   Photographs show an area in Japan rebuilt a year after the 2011 earthquake/tsunami.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2012]

Just saw this on Facebook, claims Japan rebuilt this area in a year.

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Origins:   These “before and after” photographs originally circulated via Facebook in March 2012 purportedly show the remarkable progress Japan had made in less than a year’s time rebuilding an area devastated by the 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the country in March 2011. Although the pictures are correct in concept, they are also slightly incorrect in detail:

A photographic feature entitled “Japan Earthquake: One year on” was published on several of MSN’s international sites on 10 March 2012 and includes multiple sequences displaying pictures of areas in Japan before, immediately after, and one year after the 2011 earthquake/tsunami. The photographs displayed above are included in that feature, but they seem to be mislabeled in the Facebook-circulated version: the picture on the right identified as being from 9 March 2012 is apparently a photo of the area taken before the 2011 earthquake; the correct “before/after/one year later” sequence is as follows:

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Click to enlarge

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A similar photographic feature published from the German news magazine Tagesschau allows viewers to compare and contrast areas in Japan as they looked just after the 2011 earthquake/tsunami with how they appeared a year later.

Last updated:   20 March 2015

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