Thinking on the Recovering Process from the 3.11 Tsunami Disaster

Monday, July 14, 2014: 2:15 PM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Koichi HASEGAWA , Sociology, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
This paper discusses problems in the recovering process in the tsunami
devastated area, based on a case study in a fishermen's village, Minami
Sanriku Town. It is one of the most severely devastated towns on 3.11,
2011. The huge three tsunami waves of 15.5 meters high left 824 people
dead or missing, 4.6% of the whole population. Almost all of all
buildings, shops and houses were swept away and turned into rubble and
wreckage. Suddenly the central area of this town vanished. The usual
very beautiful, peaceful and quiet bay suddenly turned into the awful
tsunami waves and destroyed the town.

The speed and pace of the recovering process is very slow due to the
loss of effective political leadership and the very bureaucratic, rigid
reactions and sectionalism of the national bureaucrats. After clearing
up rubble and wreckage, there is nothing except vacant ground. A large
amount of money is only bringing public works of long lines of a huge
coastal levee like the Great Wall. Despite being a fishermen's village,
new life will start away from the ocean and with no ocean view.

Among residents, there are a lot of clashes of interests. Within a
household, we can find a generational gap between the retired elderly
with a pension and the younger generation who seeks a job and is raising
children. While the former wants to stay within the village, the latter
hopes to move out of the village, to an inland area more convenient for
getting higher income, shopping, transportation and education. The town
forecasts the population aging rate of over the 65 years elderly will
increase to 38% in the year of 2033, from 28% before the tsunami attack.
The population will decrease to less than 13,000 from 17,000. How can we
support the recovering process?