Rebuilding Tohoku

Near Watari (Japan), September 10th 2018. Even though an ordinance dating back to the immediate earthquake aftermath still forbids bathing in the ocean along the coast of Tohoku, a man swims close the newly build seawall near the town of Watari.

On March 11th 2011, Japan’s Tōhoku region was hit by the strongest earthquake of the century, followed by a devastating tsunami and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear accident. This triple disaster killed more than 18,000 people, erased entire cities, heavily damaged the region’s agriculture and brought the local economy to its knees.

Still today, Tōhoku’s wounds are far to be completely healed. As of late 2018, approximately 30,000 people are still hosted in temporary prefabricated homes, and the area surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi power plant remains a no-go zone due to the radiation hazard.

Tokyo’s government responded promptly to the disaster, and has implemented numerous reconstruction projects in the area. Some of these projects, though, have been criticized by locals not only for their environmental impact, bu also for being in conflict with the region’s needs and traditional lifestyle. One of the most controversial projects is the (12.5 meters high and 395 km long) seawall built along the entire coast of Tōhoku, to protect the region from possible future tsunamis.

Eight years after the triple disaster, Tōhoku faces another challenge: finding a balance between rebuilding infrastructure and reconstructing the community.


Marco Panzetti

Chiara Galvani, Federica Galvani (Orizzontinternazionali)

error: All images on this website are copyrighted © 2020 Marco Panzetti