The Impact of the East Japan Great Earthquake on Community in a Small Village

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: Booth 48
Oral Presentation
Keiko YAMAGUCHI , Sociology, Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan
Shinsuke SAKUMICHI , Information and Behavior, Hirosaki University, Hirosaki, Japan
This article explores the impact of the East Japan Great Earthquake on the sociocultural aspects of community based on 40 in-depth life history interviews and a survey administered to more than 1200 villagers in a small seaside village.Noda village, which is located in northern Japan and has a population of 4500, is characterized by close interpersonal ties, a traditional patriarchal system, and an ethic of mutual aid. During times of economic prosperity, many male villagers moved to the Tokyo metropolitan area to work as carpenters due to the lack of jobs in the village. When a 37-m-high tsunami hit this village, 37 people were killed and almost 30% of the houses were damaged. The tsunami caused not only material damage and life-threatening situations, but also changed the sociocultural character of the community. For instance, people were initially reluctant to accept support from outsiders, such as volunteers, and talking about the tsunami experience has become almost taboo among villagers. We explore the processes by which sociocultural changes occurred and discuss the goals of post-earthquake community reconstruction in the context of data from small village.