Japan seeks ‘recovery of people’s hearts’ a decade after quake disaster

How we rose from Fukushima disaster with a vision for renewables

March 11, 2011, was a day I shall never forget, a day when the people of Namie in northern Japan lost so much and endured so much. It was a quiet Friday afternoon when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. As a town official, I was attending a middle-school graduation ceremony during the morning. When, that afternoon, the ground shook violently in one of the largest quakes ever to hit our quake-prone country, I knew there was a strong risk of a tsunami and was relieved that all the children were evacuated safely to higher ground.

But for many in our town, the tragedy was unremitting. 181 of our friends and neighbours lost their lives as the 15-metre waves crashed ashore, engulfing all of the 600 homes along the coast. We continue to mourn for those who have perished. Even then our ordeal was not over. As the hours passed, we found out through television broadcasts that the nearby Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant was in trouble, and that evacuation warnings had been announced. All 21,000 of our residents had to evacuate with little more than what they could carry.

At such times, it is difficult to imagine a future. Instead, each day is devoted to coping with your loss and dealing with day-to-day life. The basic needs of food, housing, medical care were our primary issues. But the future, does, of course, arrive. And while we cannot control the ravages of nature, we can shape our destiny and this is what we have done in Namie….

Japan seeks ‘recovery of people’s hearts’ a decade after quake disaster

Yasuo Takamatsu, 64, is one of many people whose lives were shattered by the disaster.

On March 11 2011, one of the biggest quakes on record touched off a massive tsunami, killing more than 18,000 people and setting off catastrophic meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Nearly half a million people were displaced, and tens of thousands still have not returned home.

More than 30 trillion yen (£201 billion) has been spent on reconstruction so far — but even reconstruction minister Katsuei Hirasawa acknowledged recently that while the government has charged ahead with new buildings, it has invested less in helping people to rebuild their lives, such as offering mental health services for trauma…

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