三陸復興 | Sanriku Fukkou

Deutsch-Japanisches Synergie Forum (DJSF) Sanriku Fukkou e.V.

三陸復興 | Sanriku Fukkou

2. Problem beim Wiederaufbau – Sozialer Wohnungsbau

In Rikuzentakata ist ein Gebäudekomplex bestehend aus 3 acht – und drei 9 geschossigen Apartmenthäusern mit 301 Sozialwohnungen. Wahrscheinlich werden davon 206 bezogen, ca. 25% werden allein lebende ältere Personen sein. 95 Wohnungen werden leerstehen. Die Vereinsamung ist vorprogrammiert.
Ein weiteres Problem ist, dass die Feuerwehr bisher nur Leitern für 15 Meter

hohe Gebäude besitzt (5 stöckige Gebäude). Diese Gebäude sind doppelt so hoch. Die Leitern müssen beschafft werden und die Feuerwehr muss geschult werden.



2016年08月01日 月曜日



Otsuchi, Return of a Perilous Beauty


A March 2015 view of the progress of the incremental landfill operations in centrol Otsuchi that began in 2013 after debris-clearing. To the left is the district of Ando, with its fishing jetty protruding into the harbor; across the Kozuchi River to the right is Nobematsu, now connected by a temporary span that replaced the original bridge and its six-meter high floodgates.
A tsunami-battered town tries to get back on its feet: struggle, conflict, bureaucracy and, yes, hope.


by Charles Pomeroy

Not all has gone smoothly in the town of Otsuchi as it struggles to recover from the tsunami devastation wreaked upon it five years ago. (See my story, “The Perilous Beauty of Otsuchi,” in the April, 2011 edition of No. 1 Shimbun.) For starters, the loss of its mayor, Koki Kato, together with key department heads and the more than 30 experienced staff that made up a quarter of the town’s civil servants meant that there was no one to immediately get to work on a master plan for recovery. It wasn’t until January 2012 that a draft was finally completed, under a new mayor, Yutaka Ikarigawa.

Mayor Ikarigawa was faced with a number of tough issues, from organizing housing for survivors to sorting out land problems for the dead and missing. And over the next several years some progress was made, including a partial revival of the fisheries industry and construction of new residences to replace the temporary structures housing survivors.

But two key projects in the master plan led to discontent, as the long-range view of those who had forged the plan clashed with the more immediate desires of the survivors. One was a plan to raise the ground level in central Otsuchi by 2.5 meters; the other, to build a huge seawall 14.5 meters high.

After months of uncertainty, many displaced townspeople could not wait another six years and departed for other locales.

The plan to raise the ground level, intended as a safeguard against smaller tsunami and future rises in the sea level, will bring it up to the level of the entry road from National Highway 45 and the new town offices, formerly the burned-out elementary school. It is a six-year project, started in 2012 with debris clearing, followed by incremental landfill scheduled through 2016, and finally ending with a year of waiting for it all to settle before rebuilding can begin in 2018. But after months of uncertainty following the tsunami, many displaced townspeople could not wait another six years and departed for other locales.

THE PLAN TO BUILD the huge seawall – favored by Tokyo bureaucrats, but with the responsibility in the hands of the prefecture – has yet to get underway. Strong doubts have been expressed about its usefulness in protecting the town against future, perhaps even larger, tsunami. Critics also say that any concrete structure of this kind will deteriorate and require replacement in 50 years, which will mean another huge outlay of tax money. They prefer an enhanced system of tsunami alerts and evacuation routes, which are already included in the master plan for central Otsuchi.

In particular, opposition was voiced by the fisheries folk in Akahama, which is also home to Tokyo University’s International Coastal Research Center (ICRC). Akahama also has a walkway to Horaijima, an islet known to most Japanese from a popular 1960s NHK puppet program Hyokkori Hyotan-jima that featured a popular theme song. Many of its residents were lost in the 2011 tsunami, opponents said, because the earlier seawall at 6.5 meters had blocked their view of the “drawback” – receding water from the harbor that preceded the onslaught – that would have alerted them to seek higher ground. In their opinion, a seawall 14.5 meters high would just make such future situations even worse.

Opponents had their point made for them with the release in April, 2015, of a documentary by director Haruko Konishi, titled Akahama Rock’n Roll. The film makes a strong case for the more traditional fishery environment rather than a high seawall. Even Akie Abe, the prime minister’s wife, expressed sympathy for the opponents’ cause at a UN Disaster Prevention Conference in Sendai last year, according to newspaper reports.

After losing almost 10 percent of its 15,239 citizens to the tsunami (one of the largest losses among the affected towns), Otsuchi’s population continues to drop. In fact, it had fallen by 23.2 percent by the end of 2015, according to a report in Asahi Shimbun. This is far and away the largest decrease among the coastal communities affected by the tsunami, with the next highest being Rikuzentakata at 15.2 percent. The reasons were various. Some former residents who had evacuated to inland towns just opted not to return to the gutted community. But the biggest hit came from the post-tsunami exodus of younger people looking for work or schooling elsewhere.
Today, Otsuchi has become a town occupied mostly by retirees and transient workers.

Aside from cleanup and landfill work and rebuilding, long-term jobs that can help persuade locals to stay are in short supply to this day. Although the partially recovered fishery industry continues to offer opportunities, these jobs seem to offer little appeal for the younger generation. And though MAST – Otsuchi’s major shopping center that attracted many residents of surrounding communities – reopened in December 2011, its consumer base began eroding after 2013 as a result of increasing competition from shopping centers in nearby towns, especially the Aeon shopping center in nearby Kamaishi.

Driving home the reality of a shrinking population was the merger of three elementary schools in April 2013. Today, Otsuchi has become a town occupied mostly by retirees and transient workers.

TO ENCOURAGE REBUILDING IN Otsuchi, government subsidies totaling ¥5 million are on offer to qualifying families. But no rebuilding can take place in the town center until 2018, and those who want to build in other areas face escalating construction costs. That is assuming, of course, that a construction company can be found, for even local governments are having difficulty in obtaining bids for their projects. Costs have been rising not only from demand in the stricken areas of Sanriku, but also from the general upgrading of the national infrastructure by the Abe administration, a situation further aggravated by the decision to hold the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

These developments have fed growing cynicism among survivors all along the Sanriku coast. Many sense they are being abandoned, or at least having their futures downgraded in favor of other government projects. These feelings have only increased following the decision to hold the Olympics. And when the central government recently announced an end to the intensive five-year phase of Tohoku reconstruction and a reduction in such funds for the next five-year phase from fiscal 2016, this only added to their pessimism.

Despite these negatives, one of our family members, a brother-in-law in his mid-60s who spent most of his adult life in Tokyo, returned to Otsuchi after retiring in 2015. He now works part time to supplement his retirement income while looking for new opportunities in his hometown. So far he has found none.

Many sense they are being abandoned, or at least having their futures downgraded in favor of other government projects.

Still, all is not lost, and perhaps the long-range planning of Ikarigawa’s experts, representing central and prefectural governments as well as academia and knowledgeable locals, will see a new dawning in Otsuchi. But he won’t be in a position to lead it. Difficulties with his master plan’s implementation eventually led to his defeat in the August 2015 election. His victorious opponent, Kozo Hirano, ran on a platform calling for a review of the planned reconstruction projects.

In addition to the slow but ongoing recovery of the fisheries, positive signs include the revival of the old railway line by Sanriku Railways in 2021 and the completion of the new Sanriku coastal expressway in 2022. Both will make Otsuchi more accessible for commerce and tourism as well as much easier to live in, especially for students who had pleaded for a return of the railway to enable commuting to schools in other towns. This should also increase the town’s attraction for families with school-age children.

OUR HOME WAS AMONG the 3,359 in Otsuchi destroyed by the tsunami. My wife Atsuko and I plan to begin rebuilding in 2018 on our small parcel of land at the southern edge of the central district, which will allow us to continue our retirement that began there in 2004. It will again put us within a five-minute walk of the family gravesite at Dainenji, and give us easy access to that mountain’s scenic hiking trail.

Sadly, we will no longer be joined on these hikes by our favorite companion, Atsuko’s elder sister, Noriko, who had lived nearby. She and her husband, Yuji, were both lost to the tsunami. Her remains were not identified until August of 2011 and his were never found. The addition of her ashes to the family gravesite has made our visits for the annual Obon Buddhist observances even more poignant.

Half of our neighbors were also lost to the tsunami and, apparently, none among the surviving families will return. So we will start afresh with new neighbors, but bedrock support from Atsuko’s brother and other relatives as well as friends dating back to her childhood.

The author’s feature on Otsuchi in the April 2011 earthquake special.

And with any luck, some of our favorite local shops will restart their businesses. In particular, I would like to see the reappearance of Akabu Sakaya, which made it a point to keep my favorite gin and vermouth in stock. ❶

Charles Pomeroy retired from journalism 12 years ago. He is the author of Tsunami Reflections—Otsuchi Remembered.


検証変貌するまち>読めぬ集客 出店迷う








Kinder in Tohoku, fast 5 Jahre nach dem Tsunami

Wie geht es den Kindern in den zerstörten Gebieten? Haben sie die Erinnerungen an den Tsunami und den Verlust von nahe stehenden Verwandten und Freunden verarbeitet? Wie verläuft der Alltag in den vorübergehenden Gebäuden der Ersatzschule und das Leben im Container. Es gibt keinen Platz, in Ruhe Schularbeiten zu machen.


被災地負担、反対相次ぐ 復興相、首長らと会談 復興予算













Fighting to recover from the ocean’s wrath



On April 11, Wataru Takeshita, the minister for reconstruction of the areas most seriously affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, met in Kamaishi with local government representatives to discuss the budget for Iwate Prefecture. After the meeting, the mayor of Kamaishi spoke to the press and said Takeshita told them the central government would continue paying for reconstruction work through next year, but after that he expected the prefecture and municipalities to cover part of the burden themselves.

“Please understand that the money we spend on reconstruction is from taxes levied on people nationwide,” Takeshita reportedly said during the meeting, which was closed to the media.

According to an article in the Asahi Shimbun, the local governments in attendance rejected the minister’s remarks, mainly because he neglected to go into detail about how much of a burden he was talking about and what sorts of things they would be paying for. The mayor of the city of Rikuzentakata seemed offended by the government attitude.

“They must discuss our financial situation and the reconstruction process,” he told an Asahi reporter. “Otherwise, we can’t envision a future for ourselves.”

Rikuzentakata is currently spending ¥30 billion to elevate levees and prepare higher ground for new residential housing, an amount equivalent to 2.7 times its whole annual budget. “And we still have to build schools and a new city hall,” he added.

Takeshita seemed oblivious to the resistance. He told reporters that he and the local governments “came to a common understanding” regarding division of reconstruction costs. A prefectural representative tried to point out that the municipalities weren’t saying “the central government should pay for everything and we pay nothing,” only that there had been no substantive discussion about what would happen after the current reconstruction budget expired in 2016.

As the Asahi presented the story, it read like a classic instance of official condescension, but the situation is more complicated. The report implies that the local governments formed a united front, but as the vice mayor of the town of Otsuchi said, the degree of damage suffered and the amount of reconstruction required differs from one place to another. By treating all the local governments the same way, the agency effectively demonstrates a lack of imagination and coordination, while the media gives the impression that money is the only issue.

Otsuchi, in fact, is the subject of a new documentary by Haruko Konishicalled “Akahama Rock’n Roll.” Akahama is the district closest to the sea and the one that contains the town’s fishing industry. One-10th of Akahama’s residents died in the 2011 tsunami or remain missing. The central subject of the film is the surviving residents’ objections to the central government’s plan to build a 14.5-meter-high seawall along the edge of the community. The rest of the town approved the seawall, or, at least, didn’t object to it.

The budget for construction was set in January 2012, when the town’s residents were still in shock from the disaster and hadn’t had time to think over the plans carefully. Since then, the people of Akahama decided that a better idea would be to move homes in the district to higher ground. The seawall, they contend, causes more problems than it solves. The tsunami, after all, was 22 meters high, so 14.5 meters may not do any good, but in any case, the fishermen of Akahama need to have constant visual contact with the ocean, and not just for the sake of their livelihoods. One reason so many people died in the tsunami was that they didn’t see it coming, since there was already a seawall blocking their line of sight, and that one was only 6.5 meters high.

Akahama is too small to attract the interest of the mass media, but Konishi managed to enlist one powerful supporter: Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. At the U.N. Disaster Prevention Conference in Sendai in March, she raised the matter of the seawall during an awards ceremony, saying that if you have to destroy the environment in order to safeguard a community from the forces of nature, then something is wrong. Since then, the movie and Akahama have been featured in a number of newspaper articles.

Konishi divides her footage between two principals: Tsutomu Abe (no relation to the prime minister), a fisherman who went back to work a few days after the tsunami, even though it killed his father, and Hiromi Kawaguchi, chairman of the Akahama Reconstruction Committee, who spearheads the local resistance to the seawall. This dual narrative approach toggles between the political aspects of the issue and the less concrete cultural ones.

Abe the fisherman represents the community’s soul, a man whose close relationship with the sea is primal. The tsunami was a tragedy, but, as he says over and over, you can’t fight nature.

“As long as our lives are connected to the ocean,” his mother says, “we have to be here.” And what’s the point of being here if you can’t see the water? When your life is dependent on the sea, you make peace with it as best you can.

People, however, are another matter, and it’s Kawaguchi’s job to fight the powers that try to tell him and those he represents what is best for them. Once the bureaucracy has a notion in its head, it’s difficult to change, and his fellow committee members, worn down by the subtle but relentless force of authority, seem willing to compromise, but Kawaguchi isn’t.

“Life comes from the sea,” he says. “And keeping the sea separate from us destroys life.”

If Konishi’s purpose is to show how a community’s desires should not be discounted even if those desires place it at risk, her movie acutely points out how specific needs can’t be summarily dismissed by logic or taken care of by charity.

“I’m not interested in people’s sympathy,” says Abe as he shucks oysters. “I just want to sell my products.”

Buchbesprechung „Rikuzentakata 2011-2014“ Naoya Hatakeyama

(書評)『陸前高田 2011―2014』 畠山直哉〈著〉








河出書房新社・4212円/はたけやま・なおや 58年、岩手県陸前高田市生まれ。97年、木村伊兵衛写真賞

Besuch im „Minna no ie“ in Rikuzentakata

Am 10.9.2014 empfing die Initiatorin des Projekts Frau Mikiko Sugawara die Studentengruppe der Summer School Sanriku Fukkou im Gemeinschaftshaus: „Minna no ie“ in Rikuzentakata. Frau Sugawara berichtete von ihren persönlichen Erlebnissen während des Tsunamis und der darauf folgenden schweren Zeit. Sie war so aktiv in der Versorgung der Evakuierten, dass sie ihr eigenes Leid zurückdrägen konnte. Das Haus ist im November 2012 eingeweiht worden, nachdem es auf der Biennale in Venedig einen Preis bekommen hat. Es wurde von der Bevölkerung gut aufgenommen. Viele Menschen kommen dorthin, um die besondere Gemütlichkeit dieses Ortes zu genießen und sich in Gesellschaft auszutauschen. Vor allem kommen aber auch viele Ausländer, da dieses Haus von sehr bekannten japanischen Architekten gebaut wurde: Siehe Artikel:

IMGP9211 summerschool05 IMGP9196 IMGP9195 IMGP9203 IMGP9198 IMGP9200 IMGP9201

Klicke, um auf bw_2013_4_0006-0009.pdf zuzugreifen

Nach der Flut

Text: Murielle Hladik Fotos: Naoya Hatakeyama

Am 18. November 2012 wurde im japanischen Küstenstädtchen Rikuzentakata ein Gemeindehaus eingeweiht, das auf Initiative von Architekten als „Minna no ie“ (Haus für alle) entstanden ist. Es ist Teil einer Serie partizipatorisch entwickelter Bauten, die den Bewohnern der durch Tsunami und Erdbeben verwüsteten Tohoku-Region als Gemeinschaftseinrichtungen und Begegnungsstätten dienen sollen. Nachdem das Projekt auf der Biennale in Venedig den Goldenen Löwen erhalten hatte, wurde die Einweihung vor Ort mit Spannung erwartet.

Gleich nach der Flutkatastrophe im März 2011 hatten sich die Architekten Toyo Ito, Riken Yamamoto, Kengo Kuma, Hiroshi Naito und Kazuyo Seijima zusammengesetzt, um über konkrete Hilfsmaßnahmen nachzudenken. Von Ito kam der Vorschlag, eine Gemeinschaftseinrichtung zu bauen, um den Mangel an öffentlichen Räumen zu beheben, der in den notdürftig zusammengeschobenen Containerdörfern allenthalben vorherrscht. Dieser akute Mangel an Orten der Begegnung ist umso bedrückender, als insbesondere in der Wiederaufbauphase ein hohes Maß an kollektiver Anstrengung, Interaktion und Koordination gefordert ist. Zusammen mit seinen jüngeren Kollegen Kumiko Inui, Sou Fujimoto und Akihisa Hirata entwickelte Ito die Idee, neue Gemeindehäuser, die einem prototypischen Entwurf folgen, auf das verwüstete Küstengebiet zu verteilen. Nachdem die Planergruppe international zur Einreichung von Entwürfen aufgerufen hatte, war die Resonanz enorm. Architekturstudenten, aber auch Kinder aus aller Welt reichten mehr als 900 Projektvorschläge ein, von denen eine Auswahl auf der Biennale in Venedig gezeigt wurde. Das neue Gemeindehaus von Rikuzentakata entstand auf dringenden Wunsch der lokalen Bevölkerung, die in der Flutkatastrophe alles verloren hat. Das neue „Haus für alle“ steht als ein Zeichen der Hoffnung, ein Anstoß für die Revitalisierung der ganzen Region auf einem Hügel inmitten einer verwüsteten Landschaft. Der Bau verdankt seine Existenz insbesondere Frau Mikiko Sugawara, die gemeinsam mit BürgervereinigunIn der von Tsunami und Erdbeben 2011 ausgeräumten Landschaft steht das neue Gemeindehaus in Rikuzentakata für einen tastenden Neuanfang gen das Projekt vorangetrieben hat. Zur Einweihung am 18. November kamen fast 300 Menschen. Auf dem Höhepunkt der Festveranstaltung warfen Frau Sugawara und die Architekten glücksbringende Reiskuchen in die Menge der versammelten Einwohner, Handwerker, Unternehmer und Sponsoren. Zuvor gab es einige Redebeiträge: Während Frau Tae Mori von der Japan Foundation, die das Projekt finanziell unterstützt hat, die gebaute Umsetzung der in Venedig ausgestellten Idee begrüßte, lobte Toyo Ito das Engagement der lokalen Bevölkerung und den Mut zum Neubeginn nach der Naturkatastrophe. Der Entstehungsprozess von „Minna no ie“, einem durch freiwillige, kollektive Anstrengung zustande gekommenen Gemeindezentrum, verlief nicht in herkömmlichen Bahnen: Die vier Architekten haben Größe bewiesen, und ihre individuellen Gestaltungsansprüche den Fragen des lokalen Bedarfs und des Gemeinsinns unterordneten, die Handwerker und die am Bau beteiligten Unternehmen haben nur einen Teil der tatsächlich aufgewendeten Arbeitszeit in Rechnung gestellt. Kollektive Identität und Erinnerungen Nachdem die Trümmer beseitigt waren, kamen in den verwüsteten Landstrichen Fragen nach dem Wert der verschwundenen Architektur auf. Was soll wiederhergestellt werden? Welche Bauten haben eine besondere Bedeutung für die Erinnerung? Welche der zerstörten Bauten werden schon bald ganz vergessen sein? Außer den zahlreichen Menschenleben ist tatNach der Flut Text: Murielle Hladik Fotos: Naoya Hatakeyama Am 18. November letzten Jahres wurde im japanischen Küstenstädtchen Rikuzentakata ein Gemeindehaus eingeweiht, das auf Initiative von Architekten als „Minna no ie“ (Haus für alle) entstanden ist. Es ist Teil einer Serie partizipatorisch entwickelter Bauten, die den Bewohnern der durch Tsunami und Erdbeben verwüsteten Tohoku-Region als Gemeinschaftseinrichtungen und Begegnungsstätten dienen sollen. Nachdem das Projekt auf der Biennale in Venedig den Goldenen Löwen erhalten hatte, wurde die Einweihung vor Ort mit Spannung erwartet. 6 betrifft Nach der Flut Bauwelt 4| 2013 Bauwelt 4| 2013 7 ächlich nicht nur der Verlust menschlicher Artefakte zu beklagen, sondern auch der Verlust des Grundes, auf dem sie einst errichtet wurden. Die gesamte wirtschaftliche, geistige und soziale Landschaft der Küstenregion hat sich radikal ver- ändert. Dieser Wandel wurde von dem Fotografen Naoya Hatakeyama eindringlich festgehalten. Hatakeyama stammt aus Rikuzentakata und fotografierte immer wieder die Landschaft seiner Kindheit, bevor der Tsunami die Hafenstadt, in der 23.000 Einwohner lebten, fast vollständig dem Erdboden gleichmachte. Die fotografische Arbeit von Hatakeyama, einem der Akteure von „Minna no ie“, förderte den Dialog der am Projektbeteiligten Gruppen und Verbände. Die Bilder der Erinnerung unterstützten die Wiederherstellung sozialer Bindungen. Der Neubau Das Projekt nahm bereits im Verlauf der ersten Treffen im Oktober 2011 Gestalt an. Im Dezember wurden Entscheidungen vor Ort bezüglich des Grundstücks und seiner Zugänge getroffen. Im Juni 2012 begann die Phase der Realisierung, die das Team der Zimmerleute aus der Präfektur Yamagata vier Monate lang in Anspruch nahm. Für die Tragstruktur des Gemeindehauses wurden vom Tsunami entwurzelte rote Zedern verwendet. Die grobschlächtigen Tragglieder wirken wie archaische Säulen und erinnern an die monumentalen Holzpfeiler japanischer Shinto-Schreine. Von großer Bedeutung ist auch die sinnliche Materialität des Holzes, dessen Geruch die Innenräume des Baus ganz ausfüllt. Das Gemeindehaus, dessen vielseitig nutzbaren Räume in ein Bündel von aufragenden Holzsäulen eingefügt sind, vermittelt den Eindruck eines unfertigen, lebendigen und offenen Kunstwerks. Außer den Volumina des Hauses tragen die massiven Stämme auch die Treppenanlage, die den Bau spiralförmig umfängt. Auf dem Weg nach oben laden großzügige Plateaus zum Verweilen ein. Schon jetzt dienen sie als Treffpunkt, aber auch als Aussichtsplattform mit Blick in eine offene Landschaft, in der nichts mehr so ist, wie es einmal war. Schließlich muss noch die zentrale, sehr einfache Herdstelle erwähnt werden: In der alles umhüllenden Wärme des Holzfeuers wird diskutiert, gekocht und gegessen. In elementarer und archaischer Weise entsteht in der Gemeinde Rikuzentakata die Architektur neu. Es wäre völlig verfehlt, ihre spröde Qualität mit dem Fetischcharakter der publizistisch gewürdigten Bauproduktion unserer Tage zu vergleichen. An der Architektur des „Minna no ie“ sind auch nicht die formalen Ambitionen begnadeter Entwerfer abzulesen. Es verkörpert vielmehr den einfühlsamen und tastenden Versuch, den traumatisierten Menschen zu entsprechen, denen der Rahmen ihrer alltäglichen Rituale so tragisch abhanden gekommen ist und die an ihrem kaum mehr wiederzuerkennenden Ort aufs Neue heimisch werden wollen.

Some Tohoku disaster areas on fast track to rebuilding while others stuck in slow lane


Es wird noch zwei Jahre dauern, bis hier – in Rikuzentakata – am Meer Geschäfte gebaut werden können  – mithilfe dieser gigantischen Transportanlage wird die Erde, die auf einem Berg abgetragen wird, auf die Ebene gefördert. Mit LKWs hätte es ca. 10 Jahre gedauert. – Aber ist dieser auf 10 – bzw auf 14 m angehäufte Grund so stabil, dass er bebaut werden kann – wie viel Zeit muss er sacken und wie häufig verdichtet werden? Auf der Ebene dürfen nur Geschäftshäuser errichtet werden – das bedeutet für die Menschen zwei Mieten – einmal für die Wohnung auf dem Berg, einmal für das Geschäft. In den temporären Einkaufszentren sind viele Händler schon über 65 Jahre – sie können sich die beiden Mieten nicht leisten, müssen aber irgendetwas weiter arbeiten – immer noch viele Probleme, die man auch mit High Tech nicht lösen kann.



This is the first of a five-part series on the lingering impact of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster on the three hardest-hit prefectures in the Tohoku region.

“Bridge of Hope” is the name of a temporary span over the Kesen River in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture.

It connects a hill where construction is underway to create a residential area on high ground and to raise a low-lying coastal zone where 4,045 dwellings were destroyed by gigantic tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The bridge is not for people. Built in front of the city’s symbolic “miracle pine tree” that survived the tsunami when the rest of its grove was swept away, the temporary bridge is a link in a 3-km-long conveyor belt system that carries 40,000 tons of soil and gravel — the equivalent of 4,000 10-ton truckloads — from the hill every day.

Four years ago, 18-meter-high tsunami hit the coastal city and killed 1,556 residents; 207 are still listed as missing.

The waves also devastated the city’s famous oyster farms and a pine forest the government had designated as one of 100 locations nationwide of special scenic beauty.

Rikuzentakata is one part of the Tohoku region aiming to fast-track its rebirth and become a safer place to live.

To that end, the city is building two seawalls 1.8 km long, one 3 meters high and the other 12.5 meters, as part of efforts to mitigate the threat of future tsunami. It is also elevating the land in the coastal zone by some 10 meters.

Thanks to the conveyor belt system built in March 2014 by general contractor Shimizu Corp. at a cost of ¥12 billion, the city can shorten the time it will take for the reconstruction work from an initially planned nine years to two.

Besides being efficient, the conveyor system offers hope to the tsunami survivors waiting to get back to a semblance of normalcy, Rikuzentakata Mayor Futoshi Toba said.

“Thanks to the eye-catching machine that symbolizes the reconstruction by operating every day, survivors can experience step-by-step progress,” he said, adding that the conveyor system, which has rarely been used for ordinary construction work, has also drawn sightseers.

Seeing the progress with their own eyes is “much more encouraging for people” than what officials can do behind closed doors, the mayor said.

Rikuzentakata’s progress represents Tohoku’s hopes — and struggles — to reconstruct life as usual.

With most of the tsunami debris disposed of by last March, except for in some no-go-zone and evacuation areas in Fukushima Prefecture where radioactive decontamination work is still underway, Tohoku has finally started full-scale building of permanent dwellings, both detached houses and condominiums, for survivors who lost their homes in the disaster.

Many survivors, however, are still in limbo as municipalities face delays in providing permanent housing units.

Iwate Prefecture had constructed 1,049 publicly funded replacement homes for survivors as of January — just 18 percent of the 5,933 units planned to be built by September 2018. The deadline was initially March 2018.

Miyagi is also experiencing construction delays.

As of January, the prefecture had built 2,692 housing units, or 17.4 percent of 15,484 units planned to be completed by March 2018.

In Fukushima, only 261 units, or 5 percent of the 4,890 units planned by March 2018, were available for nuclear disaster evacuees as of January. Also, just 1,190 replacement houses, or 44 percent of the 2,702 units planned, were constructed for tsunami and earthquake survivors in the prefecture.

The delay is due to the rising cost of labor and construction materials, Iwate Gov. Takuya Tasso said.

Meanwhile a vast number of people continue to live in temporary housing units.

In Iwate, 22,300 people were still in prefab temporary housing as of January, down a mere 13 percent from 25,619 last March.

Miyagi in January still had 35,332 people living in temporary shelters, down 16 percent from the 42,310 listed 10 months earlier.

The situation in Fukushima also remains problematic, with 24,098 people still living in temporary housing in January, even though 15 percent of 28,367 had moved away from such units as of last March.

The number of temporary shelter dwellers is surprisingly high, considering that all displaced survivors of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake had moved out of similar housing five years after that disaster. The Hanshin temblor caused greater structural damage than the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, but there were no huge tsunami.

Industries in the Tohoku region are also suffering from slumping sales and manpower shortages.

Seafood production in Tohoku remains low. According to a survey by the Fisheries Agency between November and January, just 53 percent of facilities in Iwate Prefecture were operating at 80 percent or above of their pre-disaster levels. In Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, the number is even lower, at 50 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

Worse, the percentage of facilities at or above the 80-percent production threshold hasn’t changed much since last year’s survey, which recorded 57 percent in Iwate, 49 percent in Miyagi and 24 percent in Fukushima.

A recovery in seafood sales has also foundered, with this year’s survey showing just 58 percent of firms in Iwate reaching 80 percent or above pre-disaster levels. The figure is 40 percent in Miyagi and a mere 21 percent in Fukushima.

Iwate Gov. Tasso said the slumping sales in Tohoku fisheries is due to delays in the recovery of factories to process fish products, and radiation fears stemming from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Despite abundant job opportunities, the three hardest-hit prefectures are suffering a labor crunch.

Local industries, especially fish processing, construction and nursing care, are suffering from the shortage of human resources. Specialists who can take the lead in constructing infrastructure for community development are also in short supply, Tasso said.

Some Rikuzentakata residents don’t hide their anxiety about life after reconstruction.

Taxi driver Haruyuki Sato doubts people want to return to live in areas where they lost their homes to the tsunami.

“I can’t foresee how the city will turn out (after all the reconstruction ends),” he said.

Some citizens oppose the city’s planned seawalls, which will mar the traditional coastal scenery and the planned 70,000-tree pine forest to be planted on land between the embankments.

Midori Murakami of sightseeing promoter Marugoto-Rikuzentakata said that as the construction progresses, there is an emotional gap between locals who lost loved ones in the disaster and those who didn’t.

“Some people complain about creating a (raised-ground zone) on land where about 200 missing people may be buried,” she said. “But otherwise we can’t move ahead. . . . I feel both excitement and concern while the reconstruction advances.

“But local people are looking forward. . . . Thanks to the reconstruction, I get to know many new people and we work together,” she added.

Fiscal 2015, which starts next month, will mark the fifth year of Iwate’s eight-year reconstruction plan and the second year of its three-year “full-fledged” effort to rebuild housing, lives and industries for survivors. The estimated reconstruction budget will reach ¥1.1 trillion, the highest since the disasters if not counting past debris disposal, the governor said.

“When thinking about disaster victims . . . I feel it’s a mission for us survivors to reconstruct a city filled with smiles . . . (so) that even the most depressed people come here and become encouraged by finding diverse people at work and full of pride,” said Rikuzentakata Mayor Toba, who lost his wife in the disaster.

Fiscal 2015 will also be the final year of the government’s ¥25 trillion five-year reconstruction budget, which Toba said is the biggest concern for those hoping the rebuilding work won’t grind to a halt.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has not made an official plan on whether or how to distribute the reconstruction budget after March 2016.

Toba is worried that the apparent waning sense of crisis among the public may lead to policymakers placing less priority on reconstruction.

“If possible, I want as many people as possible to visit the reconstruction sites — not necessarily Rikuzentakata — while the damage from the great earthquake still remains. Then, I want them to revisit after five, 10 years (to see the dramatic changes after the reconstruction),” he said.

“All bereaved families have something unforgettable inside them . . . but I think even that sorrow may turn to become an unbeatable energy (to generate positive effects).”

Interview mit dem Bürgermeister von Otsuchi: Ikarigawa-san

岩手県上閉伊郡大槌町長 碇川豊さん



Interview for 3.11 vol.3岩手県上閉伊郡大槌町の現町長、碇川豊さん。2011年に東日本大震災が起こったのち、8月に大槌町長となり現在に至る。著書に『希望の大槌 逆境から発想する町』(2013年3月 明石書店)がある。






写真② (2)














Japan after the tsunami – 進まぬ震災復興 東京五輪が奪うヒトやカネ

Auch vier Jahre nach dem Tsunami lässt der Wiederaufbau an der Sanriku Küste auf sich warten. Die Bauvorhaben für die Olympiade 2020 in Tokyo verteuern die Baumaterialien und das Interesse der Bauunternehmer, sich in Tohoku zu engagieren ist drastisch gesunken. So müssen die Evakuierten noch einige Jahre in ihren temporären Containern ausharren.


Japan after the tsunami

Grinding on

Rebuilding the north-eastern region of Tohoku is being bungled

NEARLY four years after north-eastern Japan’s huge earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown on March 11th 2011, more than 170,000 people are still stuck in temporary housing along the ravaged coast. One of them is Sumiko Yoshida, a woman in her 70s who lives with her husband in cramped, mouldy quarters in Rikuzentakata, a fishing port that was washed away by the tsunami. More than 1,750 people died there, including the Yoshidas’ son, Isao, a city official who was helping others to get to higher ground. With no place to call home and no butsudan (household altar) for her son, Mrs Yoshida says she cannot properly mourn him—a photograph on a makeshift table has to do. She has suppressed her grief for so long, she says, that the tears will not come.


Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, says that the devastated north-east is a crucial test of his plans to revive the country’s economy. Indeed, an early campaign stop for the general election last December was one of many prefabricated housing blocks crammed into school grounds in Rikuzentakata. Yet other national priorities seem to trump the region’s reconstruction. A building boom fuelled by Mr Abe’s monetary and fiscal stimulus has sucked construction capacity away from the north-east to Tokyo, where deals are more lucrative. Locals ask why the capital is building an ostentatious stadium for the Olympic games in 2020, when the poor and elderly who lost their homes in the tsunami are still not rehoused. Takuya Tasso, governor of Iwate, one of the worst-hit prefectures, says the government is losing interest in the region.

From the start, reconstruction called for money, energy and vision. In the months following the disaster locals showed great resilience, and volunteers from other parts of the country flocked to help. Some 20m tonnes of debris were quickly cleared. Hopeful planners sketched out new towns built on higher ground, powered by renewable energy. Some people even wondered whether rebuilding the north-east could pull the whole country out of its economic stagnation.

Given those early hopes, the slow progress has been hugely disappointing. Up and down the coast, much infrastructure has not been replaced and only a sixth of planned new construction of public housing has been finished. Drive through the wasteland of Rikuzentakata, and satellite-navigation screens eerily show where every house, petrol station and municipal building formerly stood. The city is only at the stage of moving earth from a nearby mountain to fill in land that sank by a metre (three feet) during the earthquake.

As for Ishinomaki, a city in Miyagi prefecture where 3,700 residents drowned in the tsunami, only 150-odd households have moved into permanent new housing, with 12,700 people still in temporary quarters. City officials in part blame the bureaucracy in Tokyo for delays in reconstruction. Ishinomaki’s mayor says it took six months for the farm ministry to allow paddy fields to be rezoned as land for a new city district.


In many towns and villages, the early solidarity is now fraying as those with money build new homes. There have been disagreements between generations. Older residents are reluctant to leave coastal villages and family graves for good—many made a good living from oyster farming and fishing. Younger generations, by contrast, want to live in bigger, consolidated communities on higher ground behind the coast. Doubts that such towns will ever be built have quickened the region’s depopulation, under way even before the tsunami. The population of Iwate, the most northerly of the three prefectures that bore the brunt of the tsunami, has declined by 46,000 or nearly 3% since.

After the disaster the central government pledged ¥25 trillion ($213 billion) over five years. Yet the system bars much public money going directly to the victims. Those who lost homes can get a maximum of around ¥3m (many houses were uninsured). Many folk are in financial straits, often still paying mortgages on houses that were swept away and too poor to join communities planning to move to new towns.

Meanwhile, it is often the bosses of construction companies, rather than local officials or central government, who pick and choose what is built. When Rikuzentakata’s city government recently asked companies to bid for the construction of a new junior high school, developers said the budget was a third too low, and the project failed. A consequence is that local banks are brimming with government cash that is not being spent. In Kesennuma, a fishing port in which over 1,360 people died, the first new public-housing block for evacuees has only just opened. Construction firms are generally refusing to build such housing, says its mayor, Shigeru Sugawara. Japan’s reconstruction agency insists that project budgets are reasonable. But with labour and materials costs high, and a boom elsewhere, construction firms can cherry-pick what they take on.

In Kesennuma, for instance, they are happy to pour concrete into the first of over 70 new sea walls planned for the city of 67,000. These are walls, up to 90m wide and 15 metres high, which the central government decreed in 2011 were necessary to protect the north-eastern coastline. Up to ¥1 trillion is to be spent on them. Yet the sea walls are using up money that could be better spent elsewhere. The monstrosities are both unpopular and of little use. Even the land ministry admits that the planned walls would not have coped with the earthquake and tsunami of four years ago. Local leaders say they are moving ahead with the walls mainly because the central government insisted on them.

As for the evacuees, the real deadline for their rehousing may prove to be 2020, says Satoru Ito, who set up a non-profit organisation to help residents of Rikuzentakata after he lost his mother and home in the tsunami. For if they are still in temporary housing by the time of the Olympics, Mr Ito asks, “what will foreigners think?”




























(c)2015 The Economist Newspaper Limited. Feb 7th 2015 All rights reserved.


Fixes for temporary housing expected to cost ¥78 billion

Fixes for temporary housing expected to cost ¥78 billion

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe total accumulated cost of repairing and refurbishing temporary houses for disaster victims will likely reach ¥78.03 billion through the end of this fiscal year, according to the governments of the seven prefectures where they were built after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Prefabricated temporary housing units originally designed to last for up to two years have now been used for more than three years. Numerous problems have emerged as a result, including leaking roofs.

An expert panel from the Cabinet Office will begin reexamining the period of use and other aspects of the temporary houses to prepare for future disasters, including a huge earthquake predicted along the Nankai Trough off the Pacific Ocean.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake, local governments in the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba built the temporary houses based on the Disaster Relief Law. Temporary houses were also built in Nagano Prefecture for victims of another quake in the northern part of the prefecture, which occurred just after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

A total of 53,194 temporary housing units were built in the seven prefectures at initial construction costs totaling about ¥290 billion. The units in Chiba, Tochigi and Nagano prefectures were dismantled as of the end of May this year. Currently, 93,017 people live in 42,590 temporary housing units in the remaining four prefectures.

The law stipulates that temporary houses will be usable for two years and have a per-unit acreage of about 30 square meters. The assumed construction cost per unit was about ¥2.39 million at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Many of the temporary houses have similar structures to the prefabricated offices at construction sites. They are zinc-roofed and their walls are thin.

Measures to cope with cold weather were especially insufficient. After construction was completed, additional work was done at the request of residents to reinforce heat insulating materials in the walls and double-layer windows.

Total costs from fiscal 2011 to 2013 in the seven prefectures stood at about ¥73.18 billion. In Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, the initial construction costs and the additional work as of January 2013 reached a combined average of ¥6.79 million per unit.

Temporary housing residents are expected to relocate to publicly run housing units for disaster victims. But only 8 percent of the necessary units have been completed, meaning the temporary houses will be used for the foreseeable future. This could present a problem, since some temporary housing units have started to tilt because of weak soil, and residents are increasingly complaining of such problems as leaking roofs and mold.

The prefectural governments of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima allocated a total of about ¥4.86 billion for repairs and other additional work in their fiscal budgets this year, and extended the period people can live in temporary housing to five years. These measures mean necessary repair costs will likely continue increasing.

To extend the durability of the temporary houses, their foundations must be rebuilt using ferro-concrete. But this alone will cost ¥300,000 to ¥400,000 per unit.

If a Nankai Trough quake occurs, about 400,000 temporary housing units will be necessary in the eight prefectures that presented forecast figures, according a The Yomiuri Shimbun survey in December last year.

Consequently, the Cabinet Office panel, which handles how the central government should assist disaster victims, is set to submit proposals about temporary housing for disaster victims.

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



Flyer Goethe



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


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

Japan rebuilds tsunami torn towns – Minamisanriku

four_col_the_mayorJapan rebuilds tsunami torn towns
Cushla Norman

Three years after a massive quake struck off the coast of Japan, the rubble has been cleared and the infrastructure largely restored, but the rebuild has been slow.
A shrine has been set up at the disaster prevention tower for people to pay their respects. However the council plans to demolish the building.

The sea is both friend and foe to the town of Minamisanriku. Fishing is the foundation of the economy and the town is famed for its octopus, oysters and scallops.However, as Insight found out when it visited, because of its hilly topography and v-shaped bays, Minamisanriku is prone to tsunamis.

It has had three major ones since 1896, and the town was prepared for more. A 4.6 metre seawall and 10 metre high tidal gates were built after the 1960 tsunami which followed the Valdivia earthquake in Chile. But this wasn’t enough to protect the town in 2011.

The disaster prevention tower, where the final tsunami warnings were broadcast from. 43 people on the rooftop were washed away and nine survived.


On 11 March 2011 a tsunami generated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake damaged and destroyed towns and cities along 600 kms of the Tohoku coast – 18,958 people were killed and 127,291 buildings were destroyed.
The tsunami virtually wiped out Minamisanriku’s town centre, and left about 800 people dead or missing. The town is now a bare plain of brown dirt dotted with the odd mangled building.
But progress is being made. A convoy of trucks ferries tonnes of dirt from the surrounding hills to the coastal plain every day. The dirt is being used to raise the land by 10.6 metres.
Houses won’t be allowed to be built on the newly raised land – it will be for shops, offices and processing factories – houses will be built on the surrounding hills.
Across the Tohoku region, 258,000 people are still homeless three years on from the disaster. In Minamisanriku, more than 5,000 people still live in temporary housing. Many of them didn’t have costly earthquake insurance.
And so the government is building about 21,000 public housing apartments in the region to be rented to residents according to their income.
The government’s reconstruction agency said work has already started on about 70 percent of public housing with the goal to have 80 percent completed by March 2016.
For those who don’t want to live in public housing, the government is developing land for them to build on, with residents paying the expensive construction costs themselves.
Mayor of Minamisanriku Jin Sato said the cost of building materials has risen dramatically since the tsunami. The mayor, Jin Sato, survived the tsunami by clinging to a radio antennae on top of the disasterprevention building.
He said before the disaster a 30 square metre house would have cost $140,000 to build, but now it costs $475,000. He said people look at this cost and just give up on building their own home and that’s a worry for him.
Also a worry for the mayor is increased competition from Tokyo for construction companies to work on Olympics projects. He said some construction companies have left since Tokyo was named as 2020 hosts last year and he fears it may slow the rebuild.
Mr Sato said the construction companies always used to say „the disaster area is our priority“, but now their stance has changed to „the Olympics and the disaster area are our priorities.“
These signs mark the tsunami inundation zone. In most places the waves were at least 10 metres but in some they were 16 metres high.
Before the disaster Minamisanriku’s population was 17,666. Now it has fallen to about 14,000 – although locals fear it could be lower.
Many people, predominantly the young, have left because of what they see as a lack of job opportunities and a lack of progress on the rebuild.
But Mr Sato insists there are jobs, and government statistics back him up. In the Tohoku region there are actually more job offers than people.
However, as an aid worker from the nearby city of Ishinomaki, Akiko Iwamoto, points out, the jobs are in industries such as construction which may not appeal to young people.
Ishinomaki, a city of about 150,000 people just south of Minamisanriku, is facing the same problems as the rest of the Tohoku region – an ageing population, a mass exodus of young people and labour shortages.
Out of the disaster hit regions Ishinomaki has the highest number living in temporary housing – 15,000. Akiko Iwamoto said many of them lead a grim existence with a lot becoming reclusive, staying inside, watching TV and drinking.
She said suicide and divorce rates have jumped dramatically as so much uncertainty hangs over people’s lives.
The Japanese government is spending $350 billion on the Tohoku rebuild over 10 years. Its original goal was to have the rebuild finished in a decade. Mr Sato thought this would be possible at first, but now he can’t believe there are just six years left.
The earthquake caused the land to drop by about 70cm and as a result this low lying area, which was formerly the downtown, floods easily during high tide.
The earthquake caused the land to drop by about 70cm and as a result this low lying area, which was formerly the downtown, floods easily during high tide.


Japans Sanriku Küste in Tohoku soll hinter 14,7 m hohen Betonwällen verschwinden

Tsunami-proof ‚Great Wall of Japan‘ divides villagers

Government wants to build 440 walls along coastline, but some residents believe a concrete fortress is not the answer


Luftaufnahmen der zerstörten Küstenstädte in Tohoku





POINT OF VIEW: Don’t let disaster-stricken Tohoku region remain as Tokyo’s ‘colony’

By YUZURU TSUBOI/ Staff Writer

March 11 marked the third anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami disaster that triggered Japan’s worst nuclear accident.

One question sums up the frustration felt by residents of the stricken Tohoku region of northeastern Japan: “Does the Tohoku region still remain a colony?”

The question was in an essay written by Norio Akasaka, director of the prefectural Fukushima Museum and folklorist, and carried by The Asahi Shimbun on Jan. 29. Akasaka was a member of the Reconstruction Design Council, an advisory panel established by the central government.

In his essay, Akasaka posed critical questions.

He asked why Fukushima Prefecture was obsessively devoted to providing electricity, generated by two nuclear power plants, to Tokyo as if it were a vassal state paying tribute to the capital.

Akasaka also asked why the intentions of local people were ignored in the name of reconstruction that focused on large-scale public works projects.

After raising these questions, he went on to point out that the 2011 triple disaster exposed a bleak reality that the Tohoku region has faced for far too long.

His view is not so far from the truth in three respects.

One is that localities stricken by the nuclear accident have been effectively abandoned.

Even today, newspapers dated March 12, 2011, remain piled up at a distribution store in Namie, a town close to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Residents separated from their families and communities by radioactive fallout cannot even get close to the point where they can contemplate restructuring their lives.

Secondly, there has been little progress in what is termed as “creative rebuilding,” a vision that was drawn up for the depopulated region which serves as an epitome of any rural area in the future.

The rebuilding projects, which were cobbled together with little coordination among central government ministries, do not offer a new platform that will allow residents to rebuild their communities based on a plan that factors in continued population decline.

The projects do not make it any easier to take on a new model for fishing and agricultural operations, either.

On top of this, preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are accelerating the drain of manpower and materials, which are essential to the rebuilding process.

Thirdly, searing memories of the devastation are fading with the passage of time. The fact that about 100,000 people are still forced to live in prefabricated temporary housing does not make headlines any more.

Last month, an article in The Asahi Shimbun noted that local government chiefs felt a huge gulf between the affected region and Tokyo after seeing a poster celebrating Tokyo’s hosting of the Summer Olympics. It was displayed in the Reconstruction Agency, which they were visiting to lobby for rebuilding. I find the episode a painful reminder of the perception gap.

Admittedly, smiles are returning to the faces of many people in the stricken region.

That said, the Tohoku region still seems to be regarded as a convenient “colony” of Tokyo, the nation’s center of affluence.

This is a reality of Japan that has not changed even after the unprecedented adversity.

I propose that everybody contemplate this third anniversary by asking some key questions.

What kind of a community are we aiming to build? Rebuilding efforts are still in the first chapter and a review of the plans is possible. We should also ask whether investments from government coffers are being spent for a meaningful purpose and are sustainable.

A picture of the stricken region five years from now or 10 years from now must be nothing but a reflection of our own in the future.




According to the National Police Agency, 15,884 people died and the whereabouts of 2,633 others remained unknown as of March 10 due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident.

In addition, 2,973 people died of causes related to the disaster, such as deteriorating health resulting from the evacuation and suicide, in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the three worst-affected prefectures in the Tohoku region.

In Fukushima Prefecture, the number of deaths resulting from evacuation after the nuclear accident exceeded that of the earthquake and tsunami.

About 267,000 people nationwide are still displaced due to the 2011 disaster.

About 104,000 households live in temporary housing.

The occupancy rate of prefabricated temporary housing is about 84 percent in the three prefectures.

The figure compared with less than 60 percent reported three years after the Great Hanshin Earthquake of Jan. 17, 1995, which claimed more than 6,400 lives in the Kansai region.

According to the Reconstruction Agency, 2,347 units of public housing for victims will be completed in the three prefectures by the end of this month. But the figure is only 9 percent of a total planned.

The circumstances surrounding schools, a key part of efforts to rebuild communities, are bleak.

Many children are continuing their education in makeshift schools or “renting” rooms in other schools.

The affected localities are faced with an array of challenges. These include a population drain, scant progress in rebuilding and a need to provide mental health care services.



Yuzuru Tsuboi is chief of The Asahi Shimbun’s Sendai Bureau and head of its team covering the recovery of the Tohoku region.

By YUZURU TSUBOI/ Staff Writer

Betonwälle – 14,5 m hoch – geplant als Küstenschutz


Betonwälle - 14,5 m hoch - geplant als Küstenschutz

Planungen zum Küstenschutz in Kesennuma, Rikuzentakata, Otuchi und Taro:

‪#‎Japan‬ – ‪#‎Erkundung‬ von ‪#‎Tokyo‬ und ‪#‎Tohoku‬:
Während der 2. ‪#‎Deutschjapanischen‬ ‪#‎Summerschool‬ ‪#‎Sanrikufukkou‬ werden wir vom 7.9. bis zum 15.9. die Städte ‪#‎Kesennuma‬, ‪#‎Rikuzentakata‬, ‪#‎Otsuchi‬ und ‪#‎Taro‬ besuchen und mit Wissenschaftlern, Politikern, Behörden und Betroffenen über die Pläne und Umsetzungen der geplanten ‪#‎Betonwälle‬ – teilweise bis 14,7 m hoch sprechen. An einigen Orten waren die Proteste gegen diese Planungen so erfolgreich, dass nun neu geplant werden kann. In Rikuzentakta und Taro werden bereits Berge abgetragen, zum einen um dort Baugelände zu gewinnen und neue Wohnanlagen zu bauen, zum anderen, um das Bodenniveau an der Küste anzuheben.

Bericht von Prof. Dr. Takashi Sakat, Präsident der Senshu Ishinomaki Universität


Bericht von Prof. Dr. Takashi Sakat, Präsident der Senshu Ishinomaki Universität

Situation in Ishinomaki nach dem 11.3.2011


The great Wall at Sanriku Coast

Die japanische Regierung plant in Tohoku den Bau einer „großen (Beton)-Mauer“ zum Schutz der Küste. Der Protest der Bevölkerung gegen dieses Vorhaben wird täglich größer, wie hier in Kesenuma. Radiobericht von Lucy Craft