Saturday, April 7, 2012

Relocation threatens to scatter, destroy bonds of tsunami-hit community in Japan

RIKUZENTAKATA, Iwate -- The terrible destruction wrought by the March 2011 tsunami along Japan's northeast Pacific coast has seen tens of thousands of people uprooted and scattered across a host of temporary housing complexes or new homes beyond the prefecture. The local community of Nagahora, however, managed to hold together after the disaster, on this city's Hirota Peninsula.

Unfortunately these bonds are now under threat, as economic concerns may force some Nagahora residents to move into some of the 1,000 low-rent public housing units for disaster survivors spread across several sites in Rikuzentakata. The community "is just like family," said one resident, reflecting the deep sorrow the impending move has caused here.

The bonds in this community of 19 households are indeed strong. At around dinner time one recent evening, mobile phones in temporary housing units chirped with incoming email. The message: "We have some saury here. Anyone who'd like some, please come on by with something to carry the fish in." It was a message to residents, offering to share out food. Walking along the streets in the community -- population 79, ages stretching from 5 months to 88 years -- entranceways of temporary housing units are marked with doorplates bearing the names of long-standing families. Nagahora, it must be said, is prospering, backed by a thriving wakame seaweed farming industry. Read More