FOUR YEARS AFTER: Many schools still not rebuilt due to rising costs, other priorities

March 08, 2015

Students of Unosumai Elementary School in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, attend classes in prefabricated school buildings as reconstruction of school buildings are delayed. (Eiichiro Suganuma)

Students of Unosumai Elementary School in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, attend classes in prefabricated school buildings as reconstruction of school buildings are delayed. (Eiichiro Suganuma)

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the broken buildings of the Schools in Usunomai are gone, the new buildings will stand up the hill – but it will take three more years that pupils can enter it.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

For students who entered Unosumai Elementary School in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, they will attend classes in prefabricated buildings for six years until graduation.

The school, located near the sea, was swallowed up by the ensuing tsunami, although all the 350 students were safely evacuated to a hillside.

Unosumai is among the many elementary and junior high schools damaged in the earthquake and tsunami that have experienced delays in rebuilding.

The large number of public works projects currently ongoing in the disaster-hit areas have resulted in a rise in the costs of construction materials and a serious shortage of workers.

Priorities have also been placed on large-scale projects, such as construction of roads ordered by the central government. Subsequently, reconstruction of school buildings has been put on the back burner.

At Unosumai Elementary, 182 students are studying in prefabricated buildings, as reconstruction of their school has yet to be started.

As prices of concrete and labor costs of workers have jumped in a short period of time, the costs of the reconstruction plan worked out in spring 2014 ballooned. As a result, the central government did not approve the plan.

In a process that took six months, the Kamaishi city government decreased the construction budget by making changes, including scaling back the school buildings. It also introduced a special bidding process that selected contractors from the design stage.

Despite those efforts, the school buildings are not expected to be completed until 2017, which means classes will continue in the prefabricated buildings.

“Though the school buildings are prefabricated ones, children are enjoying their school lives,” said Chizuko Kobayashi, 41, whose three daughters are attending Unosumai Elementary School.

The school bus that transports children from temporary housing facilities to the school passes through districts that were devastated by the tsunami. Because of that, when a tsunami warning is issued, students sometimes have to stay at the prefabricated school buildings until late at night.

“I hope that the school buildings that children can attend safely are constructed as early as possible,” Kobayashi said.

According to the Iwate prefectural government, of the 15 schools damaged by the tsunami, Funakoshi Elementary School in Yamada completed reconstruction of its school buildings in spring 2014.

The school buildings of Takata High School in Rikuzentakata are also scheduled to be completed late this month.

However, students in the remaining 13 elementary or junior high schools in five municipalities are still studying in prefabricated buildings or using buildings of former schools.

The reconstruction of Otsuchi Elementary School and Otsuchi Junior High School in Otsuchi, Takata-Higashi Junior High School in Rikuzentakata, and Okirai Elementary School in Ofunato are likely to be delayed for six months or more as municipal governments have failed to secure contractors in the bidding process.

In neighboring Miyagi Prefecture, 15 elementary and junior high schools are still using prefabricated buildings or other facilities. It is taking time for many of them and two public high schools to choose new sites for their schools or complete reconstruction of their buildings.

Completion of the new Yuriage Elementary School and Yuriage Junior High School in Natori are likely to be delayed until April 2018. A relocation site for Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki also has yet to be determined.

(This article was written by Eiichiro Suganuma and Masataka Yamaura.)

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Japanese Coastal Town Still Struggling to Rebuild From 2011 Tsunami – Otsuchi

Many of the survivors of the tsunami that devastated Otsuchi, Japan, four years ago live in temporary housing like these prefabricated units on school property. Ko Sasaki for The New York Times

OTSUCHI, Japan — The spot where the town’s center once stood is now a dusty construction site filled with diggers and dump trucks toiling amid huge, man-made mesas of earth and gravel. The work is part of an $850 million project to elevate the land by seven feet and shield it behind a towering 48-foot wall.

Four years after a colossal tsunami swept away most of this remote fishing community on Japan’s mountainous northeastern coast, Otsuchi is starting to rebuild.

However, the wait is far from over for thousands of the town’s survivors, many of them still living in temporary apartments after being left homeless by the waves. Otsuchi was so severely crippled by the calamity — 1,284 people died here, including the mayor and many town hall employees, firefighters and police officers — that the town struggled for years even to put together a recovery plan. Reconstruction began only last year and will not be finished until at least 2019, the new mayor says.

Similar stories could be heard across Japan’s tsunami-struck northeast as the nation held prayer ceremonies this week to observe the anniversary of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11, 2011, that left 18,490 people dead or missing. Almost 250,000 people lost their homes in the calamity, and 87,000 still live in cramped, prefabricated housing that was originally meant to last for just two or three years.

Hiromi Kawaguchi, in his two-room apartment in emergency housing, lost his mother, wife and 4-year-old grandson. “We are still very much a disaster zone,” he said.CreditKo Sasaki for The New York Times

It is not clear when, if ever, they will move back. In Fukushima, where the tsunami caused meltdowns that destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, some areas were so contaminated with radiation that they may not be habitable for decades.

In small coastal communities farther north like Otsuchi, far enough away to escape most of the nuclear fallout, many survivors have simply given up and moved elsewhere, accelerating the depopulation of rural areas in this rapidly graying nation. Those who want to stay worry they could face additional waits as memories of the tragedy fade in the rest of Japan, where attention is now turning to events like the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“Everyone seems to think that life has gone back to normal here, but we are still very much a disaster zone,” said Hiromi Kawaguchi, 66, a retired town employee who lives alone in a tiny two-room apartment in refugee housing after losing his wife, mother and 4-year-old grandson, Shoya, to the tsunami.

“Does this mean more delays if the nation has lost its sense of urgency about us?” he said. “Even big construction companies are starting to leave to get a piece of the Olympics.”

To help in the rebuilding, the central government in Tokyo pledged 25 trillion yen, or about $206 billion, to pay for reconstruction and radiation cleanup as part of a “concentrated recovery program” that was supposed to end in 2016. However, local governments have been so overwhelmed by the task of rebuilding that many have fallen behind schedule and proved unable to even spend all the recovery money made available to them.

Otsuchi is a case in point. Once a quiet community of 15,200 residents on a picturesque bay between rugged mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Otsuchi was struck by seething 50-foot waves that destroyed more than 80 percent of the town’s structures, including the town hall, fire department, police station and main hospital. The tsunami killed the mayor and almost 50 town employees, leaving Otsuchi leaderless in the months after the disaster.

“The town was paralyzed by the chaos,” Otsuchi’s new mayor, Yutaka Ikarigawa, said in an interview in the temporary town hall, which occupies a former elementary school that was damaged in the disaster.

Survivors said it took a year to erect temporary housing and supply all the units with electricity and water; the cleanup of a half-million tons of crumpled cars, shattered wooden beams and other debris was completed only last year.

Survivors also struggled to reach a consensus on what they wanted their reconstructed town to look like. Some favored the huge, expensive wave walls that officials in Tokyo urged them to build. Others pointed out that such walls had failed to save residents in other towns. They argued that the safest thing to do would be completely rebuild the town on higher ground.

In the end, the town settled on a compromise in which commercial structures like factories and stores would be rebuilt on the site of the old town center, which would be elevated and protected behind a wall as wide as half a football field at its base. Most residents will move to new housing at higher elevations, including on flattened hilltops.

Today, the neighborhoods that had been left in ruins are being covered by thick layers of fresh soil. The three-story concrete town hall, its insides gutted by the tsunami that almost completely submerged it, is the only building left standing in the town center. Buddhist statues have been placed in front, turning it into a memorial for those who perished inside.

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But the start of construction has brought new delays. Otsuchi has struggled to find construction companies to even bid on its contracts, as a boom in post-tsunami rebuilding has created a shortage of contractors. That shortage has been made worse by Olympic-related construction projects in Tokyo, said the mayor, Mr. Ikarigawa.

As a result, Otsuchi has been unable to spend all the money allocated to its recovery by the central government. In 2012, Otsuchi was able to spend just 28 percent of the $178 million made available to it. Last year, with a new reconstruction plan finally in hand, it did better, spending 62 percent, Mr. Ikarigawa said.

“It doesn’t make sense to have to return unused recovery funds when so much of the town still needs rebuilding,” said Keiichi Sasaki, 53, the head of a neighborhood committee in Otsuchi whose home was washed away by the tsunami.

Until their homes can be rebuilt, about 3,700 residents live in temporary housing, waiting. Thousands of others have already given up: The town hall estimates that Otsuchi has lost at least a quarter of its population to the disaster and the exodus that followed.

Mr. Kawaguchi, the retired town employee, said the number who left may be even higher. He said many lost hope after the construction boom started to drive up the cost of labor and building materials, making it more than twice as expensive to rebuild now as just two years ago.

Nor has the central government provided much relief: It offers subsidies of $40,000 to $60,000 to help rebuild homes that now cost $300,000 to $450,000 to rebuild.

“The country has no problem putting huge sums into big public works projects like wave walls, but it won’t help average people,” Mr. Kawaguchi said. “The longer it takes to recover, the more our town will wither away.”

German woman encourages youth exchange through support of tsunami-hit Sanriku region

German woman encourages youth exchange through support of tsunami-hit Sanriku region

Gesa Neuert, organizer of a German-Japanese summer school. (Mainichi)
Gesa Neuert, organizer of a German-Japanese summer school. (Mainichi)

What began as a training session in Tokyo some 30 years ago has turned into a lifelong connection to Japan for one German mother of four.

In 1984, Gesa Neuert, who was then doing research on metabolic physiology at a university in Germany, took part in a training session at the University of Tokyo. She became fascinated with the people and culture of Japan, and became involved in Japanese-German exchange programs. Since 2003, when Neuert became the deputy chairman of the Association of German-Japanese Societies, she has organized homestays for over 800 young people from both countries.

Following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the German-Japanese Synergy Forum (DJSF) was established to encourage exchange between young people of both countries while supporting recovery in the disaster-hit areas, and Neuert became the organization’s president. The following year, it held its first DSJF Sanriku Fukkou Summer School session, in which students from both Japan and Germany got together and visited areas that were devastated by the 2011 disaster to learn how communities were rebuilding.

In March this year, as Neuert was preparing for DJSF’s second summer school session, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery to remove the malignant lesions and underwent drug therapy. Initially, doctors had told her that treatment would last until early September. Her treatment period was cut back, however, when Neuert insisted that she had to run summer school.

When Neuert first arrived in Japan for this year’s three-week session in September, she was unwell due to the side effects of the drugs she’d been taking. But she couldn’t help but be moved by a traditional shishi (deer) dance performance at a Shinto shrine in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture that to her was evidence of the people starting to get their beloved hometowns back. In Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, meanwhile, she expressed misgivings about government plans to build a massive concrete seawall, saying, „Concrete will not bring back the landscape and lives that have been lost.“

Running the summer school is not easy. But Neuert believes exchange between youths is indispensable for the future of both Japan and Germany. For now, though, she will focus on regaining her strength, so that she can come back again next year.

ひと:ゲーザ・ノイエルトさん=被災地で日独学生の交流を図る

毎日新聞 2014年10月10日 東京朝刊

ゲーザ・ノイエルトさん=中西啓介撮影
ゲーザ・ノイエルトさん=中西啓介撮影
 http://mainichi.jp/shimen/news/20141010ddm008070124000c.html

 ◇ゲーザ・ノイエルト(Gesa Neuert)さん(58)

約3週間に及ぶ「第2回独日三陸復興サマー・スクール」を企画し、9月に日独の学生らと東日本大震災の被災地を訪ねて復興の現状を学んだ。 ドイツの大学で代謝生理学の研究をしていた1984年、東京大での実習に参加。日本の人と文化に魅了され交流活動に携わるようになった。独日連合協会の副会長だった2003年から、800人以上の若者を両国にホームステイさせた。

11年3月の東日本大震災後、両国の若者が交流しながら被災地の復興を支援しようという社団法人「独日三陸復興シナジーフォーラム」が設立されると、代表に就いた。翌年には初のサマースクールを開催した。

今回の計画を練っていた今年3月、突然乳がんと診断された。手術で病巣は切除したが、抗がん剤治療は続く。最初、治療は9月初めまでと医師に告げられたが「スクールが開けなくなる」と抵抗し、期間を短縮した。

来日後、副作用で手足がむくむなど、体調はすぐれなかった。だが、岩手県大槌町の神社で見た鹿子(しし)踊りには胸が熱くなった。「失ったふるさとを取り戻しつつある」。一方、宮城県気仙沼市で進む巨大防潮堤計画に疑問がわいた。「コンクリートで一度失われた景観や暮らしは戻って来ない」

議論方法の違いなど、運営には難しい面もある。だが、若者の交流は両国の未来に欠かせない資源だ。「絶対に来年も戻ってくる」。病を治し、体力を取り戻すことが、今の自分の闘いだ。<文と写真・中西啓介>

==============

■人物略歴

ドイツ北西部ノルトライン・ウェストファーレン州出身。経験30年の日独交流専門家。4人娘の母でもある。

Einladung zur Teilnahme: Symposium „Sanriku Fukkou“ am 5. 9. in Yoyogi, NYC und am 6.9. im Goethe Institut in Akasaka

 

 

Flyer Goethe

9月5日(代々木オリンピックセンター)9月6日(赤坂ドイツ文化会館)にて開催の「第二回三陸復興シンポジウム」にて、世界中で注目されている防潮堤問題、海と生きるふるさとの人々、海外の生徒達と被災地の小学生達と行った「海と生きる」交換ワークショップなどから得た、持続可能な災害復興と安全で豊かな未来のあり方について、国際的視点から意見を発表します。

入場無料、予約不要、発表は日本語英語ドイツ語に通訳ですので、みなさまお誘い合わせの上、ぜひご意見をお伝えにいらしてみてください。(大塚)

Please share! ‚Sanriku Reconstruction Symposium‘ held at the National Institution for Youth Education National Olympics Memorial Youth Center on 5 Sep 2014 and at The Goethe Institution in Akasaka on 6 Sep 2014 in Tokyo.

Hiroko Otsuka will talk about: ‚Live Together With The Sea – The Seawalls, Education and Intercultural Communication‘ – The role of education and ‚intercultural‘ communication in post-disaster Kesennuma, my hometown, from the view point of a teacher, a mother and an ordinary global citizen whose survived family and townspeople are being challenged by the issues of giant concrete seawalls, disaster risk and reconstruction of sustainable future.

Please come and give us your opinion, especially if you are interested in giving voices to those who often do not have, like women, children and victims of disasters?

 

Im Rahmen der 2. Deutsch-Japanischen Summer School DJSF Sanriku Fukkou findet am 5. 9. in Yoyogi, NYC, und am 6.9. im Goethe Institut in Akasaka das 2. Symposium zum Wiederaufbau an der Sanriku‬ Küste statt. Wie sieht es dreieinhalb Jahre nach der‪ großen Tsunami Katastrophe‬ aus? Am 5. September ist u.a. an Beispielen aus Kesennuma: Shibitachi und Koizumi‬ Bucht, der Schwerpunkt auf resiliente Planungen mit Perspektiven auf einen Wiederaufbau und ein Leben im Einklang mit der Natur gelegt. Wichtig ist, wieder Kraft und Identität zu erlangen. Hier spielen überlieferte Traditionen, Shintoriten, Matsuri, Tänze, Volkskunde und überlieferte Kenntnisse vom Leben mit Wald, Meer und Küste in Einklang mit der Natur.

Gerade die Koizumi Bucht ist international in den Medien bekannt geworden, da hier eine 90 m breite und 14,7 m hohe Betonmauer errichtet werden soll, die den nach dem Tsunami übrig gebliebenen gesamten Sandstrand bedecken wird.

Am 6.9. beschäftigen wir uns mit der aktuellen Politik in Japan, das Verhältnis zu China und Deutschland, und ob es ein Umdenken in der japanischen Gesellschaft in Bezug auf zukünftige Energiepolitik gegeben hat, sowie den Strukturen in Politik und Bauindustrie.

Bitte besuchen Sie das Symposium in Yoyogi, NYC und im Goethe Institut, Akasaka

Anfahrtsbeschreibung:

National Institution for Youth Education National Olympics Memorial Youth Center (NYC)
3-1. Yoyogi Kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0052 JAPAN
TEL.+81-3-3467-7201(General number)

Goethe Institut, Tokyo

Adresse: 7 Chome-5-56 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo, Japan

Telefon:+81 3-3584-3201

Link

aufschlussreicher Bericht in der FAZ zum Wiederaufbau in Tohoku

Drei Jahre nach dem ‪#‎Tsunami‬ in ‪#‎Japan‬, es mangelt an Fachkräften, Bauarbeitern, Materialien, Beton. Die Besitzverhältnisse über Bauland sind zum großen Teil noch nicht geklärt, außerdem fehlt den Kommunen Bauland. Olympia 2020 ist ein zusätzliches Problem. Im September 2014 wird die ‪#‎DJSFSF‬ e.V. eine ‪#‎Summerschool‬ für ‪#‎Studenten‬ in‪#‎Tohoku‬‪#‎Iwate‬ durchführen, um den Kontakt zu den Bewohnern zu vertiefen, sich selbst ein Bild des Fortschritts des ‪#‎Wiederaufbaus‬ an der ‪#‎Sanriku‬ Küste zu machen und „Hoffnung durch Handeln“ zu bringen.

Link

Drei Jahre sind vergangen

Vor genau drei Jahren, am 11.3.2011 ist Japan um 14:46 Uhr von einem Erdbeben der Stärke 9,0 erschüttert worden. Der darauf folgende Tsunami, der Höhen von 40 Metern erreichte, hat ca. 500 km der Küstenregion in Tohoku überrollt, 15 884 Menschen getötet und mehrere 100 000 Häuser und Wohnungen zerstört. Noch immer sind 2 363 Menschen vermisst und über 3 000 Menschen sind in Folge des Unglücks gestorben. Die Explosionen im Kernkraftwerk Daiichi haben weitere 150 000 Menschen heimatlos gemacht und weite Landstriche von Fukushima wurden verstrahlt. Zusätzlich ist das Wasser der Flüsse, das Grundwasser und das Meer stark belastet. Aufgrund der Wohnverhältnisse sind viele Familien getrennt, Misshandlungen der traumatisierten Kinder nehmen zu.

Lasst uns die Katastrophe nicht vergessen und sie als Chance sehen, den Kontakt mit den Menschen in Tohuku zu vertiefen und ein Zeichen Deutsch Japanischer Freundschaft zu setzen. Unterstützen Sie die 2. Deutsch Japanische Summer School „Sanriku Fukkou“ im September 2014.

 

Tohoku population 2010: 9,335,636
Tohoku population 2013: 9,109,167

Total killed = 15,884
Total missing = 2,363
Total injured = 6,147

died because of 3.11.= 3,046

Collapsed buildings = 127,290
Half collapsed = 272,788
Partially damaged = 747,989

Estimated damages = ¥25 trillion ($300 billion)
Debris Swept off shore = 5 million tons

(As of February 10, 2014 by National Police Agency of Japan)