Japan needs to ‘get individuals’s hearts again’ ten years after earthquake

TOMIOKA, Japan (AP) – Ten years after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe in Japan, the lives of many survivors are nonetheless on maintain.

On March 11, 2011, one of many largest earthquakes on file triggered an enormous tsunami, killing over 18,000 individuals and inflicting catastrophic collapses on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy plant. Virtually half one million individuals have been displaced. Tens of 1000’s of individuals nonetheless haven’t returned dwelling.

Greater than 30 trillion yen ($ 280 billion) has been spent to this point on reconstruction – however even Reconstruction Minister Katsuei Hirasawa lately acknowledged that though the federal government has invested in new buildings, it invested much less in serving to individuals rebuild their lives, for instance. , offering psychological well being companies for trauma.

The Related Press spoke to these affected by disasters how far we have come – and what stays to be executed.



Yasuo Takamatsu, 64, misplaced his spouse, Yuko, when the tsunami hit Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture.

He is been searching for her ever since.

He even bought his diving license to attempt to discover his stays, and for seven years he did weekly dives – 470 and up.

“I nonetheless assume she is likely to be someplace close by,” he stated.

Along with his solo dives, as soon as a month, he joins native authorities as they conduct underwater searches for some 2,500 individuals whose stays are nonetheless lacking within the space.

Takamatsu stated the town’s scars have largely healed, “however the restoration of individuals’s hearts … will take time.”

To date he has discovered albums, garments and different artifacts, however nothing that belonged to his spouse.

He stated he would hold searching for his spouse “so long as my physique moved”.

“Within the final textual content she despatched me she stated, ‘Are you okay? I wish to go dwelling, ”he stated. “I am positive she nonetheless needs to come back dwelling.”



Only a month after a tsunami as excessive as 17 meters (55 ft) crashed within the city of Rikuzentakata, Michihiro Kono took over his household’s soy sauce enterprise.

That he was even in a position to proceed this two-century-old endeavor is a miracle, he says. The valuable soybean yeast was solely saved as a result of he donated it to a college lab.

Over the previous decade, Kono has labored on rebuilding the enterprise in Iwate Prefecture, and later this 12 months he’ll full development of a brand new manufacturing unit, changing the one which was destroyed, on the identical land the place his household began making soy sauce in 1807. He even launched a soy sauce named “Miracle” in honor of the saved yeast.

“It is a essential time to see if I can do one thing significant within the subsequent 10 years,” stated ninth technology proprietor of Yagisawa Shoten Co. “I used to be born right here, and now I am on once more. the beginning line. “

However challenges stay: its clientele has been worn out. The town’s inhabitants has dropped by over 20% to round 18,000, so he is attempting to create enterprise networks past the town.

Kono usually thinks of the individuals killed by the tsunami, with whom he used to debate plans for revitalizing the town.

“These individuals all wished to make a giant metropolis, and I wish to do issues that may make them say, ‘Nicely executed, you probably did it’, once I see them once more within the subsequent life,” he stated.



About 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of the destroyed nuclear energy plant, rice farmer Naoto Matsumura defied a authorities evacuation order ten years in the past and stayed on his farm to guard his land and the livestock deserted by his neighbors.

He’s all the time there.

A lot of the city of Tomioka reopened in 2017. However dozens of neighboring homes round Matsumura are nonetheless empty, leaving the realm darkish at night time.

The primary prepare station in Fukushima Prefecture Metropolis has been given a facelift. A brand new purchasing heart has been constructed. However lower than 10% of Tomioka’s former inhabitants, or 16,000, returned after large quantities of radioactive materials spewing from the manufacturing unit pressured evacuations from the town and different close by areas. Sure components of the town stay closed; homes and outlets are deserted.

“It took a whole lot of years of historical past and energy to construct this metropolis, and it was destroyed immediately,” he stated. “I grew up right here … nevertheless it’s not a home anymore.”

Because it took six years to carry the evacuation order, most of the city’s residents have already discovered jobs and housing elsewhere. Half of former residents say they’ve determined by no means to return, in response to a metropolis survey.

This has been true throughout the area.

In Tomioka, radioactive waste from the town’s decontamination efforts continues to be saved in a no-go zone.

“Who needs to come back again to a spot like this?” Matsumura requested. “I do not see a lot of the long run for this metropolis.”

For firm, Matsumura has a number of cows, a pony, and a household of searching canines that assist him hunt wild boars. The cows are descendants of these on close by farms he stored, in protest, after the federal government ordered 1000’s of them destroyed as a consequence of concern of radiation.

This spring, for the primary time because the catastrophe, the 62-year-old farmer is planning an experimental rice plantation and increasing his beekeeping efforts.

“I’ll keep right here till the top of my life,” he stated.



Yuya Hatakeyama was 14 when he was pressured to evacuate from Tomioka after the catastrophe.

Now 24, the previous third baseman of the Fukushima Crimson Hopes, a regional skilled league staff, is in his first 12 months working as Tomioka mayor – however he’s nonetheless not returned to stay within the metropolis, becoming a member of the various he exterior.

Hatakeyama has bittersweet reminiscences of Tomioka. The world that’s now a no-go zone consists of Yonomori Park, the place individuals would collect for a cherry blossom pageant. Decontamination work is intensified within the space and the town plans to carry the remainder of the prohibited zone in 2023.

“I wish to attain out to residents, particularly the youthful technology, so that they know their dwelling continues to be there,” Hatakeyama stated. At some point, he says, he needs to see younger households taking part in wrestling, like he did along with his father.



Hazuki Sato was 10 years outdated when she fled her major college in Futaba, the place the destroyed nuclear energy plant was situated.

She is now getting ready for the coming-of-age ceremony typical of 20-year-old Japanese youth, hoping to fulfill on the town in order that she will be able to reconnect along with her scattered former classmates.

Regardless of horrific reminiscences of escaping from her class, she nonetheless considers Futaba to be her dwelling.

After learning exterior the area for eight years, Sato now works for his hometown – however from an workplace in Iwaki, one other city in Fukushima Prefecture.

None of Futaba’s 5,700 residents can return to stay there till 2022, when the town is anticipated to partially reopen. An space exterior a prepare station reopened final March just for a daytime go to to herald the Olympic torch.

Sato has fond reminiscences of Futaba – barbecuing with the household, driving an after-school unicycle, and doing homework and snacking with mates at a daycare whereas ready for her grandmother to select her up.

“I wish to see this metropolis grow to be a spot of consolation once more,” she stated.

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