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Given that today is March 11th, I think there is only one topic that we can discuss this week. It was two years ago today that nearly 19,000 people lost their lives in the terrible earthquake and tsunami that hit the Tohoku region.

I have to admit that I get angry when I hear politicians talking about how Japan is recovering from this tragedy. The truth is that most of them lost nothing at all, yet they still talk about the hardship that “we Japanese” have endured.

As many people have pointed out, progress in the rebuilding effort has been extremely slow. Apparently, more than 315,00 people are still without a permanent home. At the same time, the government has been spending lots of money on other projects that do not help the people of Tohoku at all.

Anyway, I am interested to know how ordinary Japanese people feel about the disaster two years on. Do you think enough has been done to help the people who were affected? Are you happy with the way the government has responded to their needs?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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38 Comments

  1. YU on Monday March 11th, 2013 at 03:11 PM

    Hi everyone,

    今週のエントリーの訳です。

    The Second Anniversary

    Given that today is March 11th, I think there is only one topic that we can discuss this week. It was two years ago today that nearly 19,000 people lost their lives in the terrible earthquake and tsunami that hit the Tohoku region.
    今日が3月11日であることを考えると今週のディスカッションのテーマは1つしかないと思います。東北地方を襲った巨大な地震と津波で約19,000人が命を落としたのは2年前の今日のことです。

    I have to admit that I get angry when I hear politicians talking about how Japan is recovering from this tragedy. The truth is that most of them lost nothing at all, yet they still talk about the hardship that “we Japanese” have endured.
    政治家たちが「日本がどのようにこの悲劇を乗り越えようとしてしているか」について語っているのを聞くと正直、腹が立ちます。実際には、ほとんどの政治家たちは失ったものなど何も無いくせに「我々日本人」が耐えた苦難、などど語っているのです。

    As many people have pointed out, progress in the rebuilding effort has been extremely slow.
    多くの人々が指摘しているように、被災地再建の進み方は非常に遅いです。

    Apparently, more than 315,00 people are still without a permanent home. At the same time, the government has been spending lots of money on other projects that do not help the people of Tohoku at all.
    ずっと住める家がない人たちが未だに31,500人以上もいるそうです。その一方で政府は東北の人々の支援とは全く関係ない事業に多額のお金を使っています。

    Anyway, I am interested to know how ordinary Japanese people feel about the disaster two years on.
    とにかく、一般の日本人が2年経った今、どんな風に震災のことを考えているか知りたいです。

    Do you think enough has been done to help the people who were affected? Are you happy with the way the government has responded to their needs?
    被災者に十分な支援がされたと思いますか?被災者のニーズに対する政府の対応に満足していますか?

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
    皆さんの考えを聞くのを楽しみにしています。



  2. YU on Monday March 11th, 2013 at 04:15 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    > Do you think enough has been done to help the people who were affected?

    I don’t think so.
    Now I’m watching tsunami-hit areas on TV, but
    there have been almost no changes since they have cleared debris two years ago.

    However, I also hear that many people are still not sure if they really want to live the same places where they used to live before the disaster, and that leads to the extrem slow progress in the rebuilding effort.

    Having said that, it is very clear that people can’t have hope for the future at all because the government never shows their concrete plans to rebuilt areas affected by tsunami, earthquake or radioation even today.

    > Are you happy with the way the government has responded to their needs?

    Lots of politicians still visit affected areas to respond to their needs, but it seems that they’re just making a trip there. I can’t help thinking that they just pretend to listen to their tragic stories. I suspect the main purpose of their visits is to win public favor. I bet you that more and more politicians will visit affected areas before the general election in July.



  3. Biwa on Monday March 11th, 2013 at 05:10 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve never been to Tohoku even after the earthquake, so all I know is from the TV and newspaper.
    I really admire the people who are working in the front line including the Toden employees risking their health to decommission the nuclear reactors. All I do is very little, I just try to support them by buying rice, vegetables and fruit produced in the region.

    However, I always feel that we’re missing a true leader who can actually show people the whole reconstruction plan. Everyone knows it will take a huge amount of time to carry it out, but I don’t think people would get this frustrated if they were informed about the whole plan. Well, I guess there is no long-term plan at all, just a temporary or random plan. For most people, waiting for something you don’t know when or whether it’s actually going to happen or not is like waiting for ever. I really worry about their mental health for those who are still missing places to live.

    Hi YU,

    >Having said that, it is very clear that people can’t have hope for the future at all because the government never shows their concrete plans to rebuilt areas affected by tsunami, earthquake or radioation even today.

    I totally agree. It’s often said that Japanese are not so good at thinking in a long-term basis. I don’t understand why they don’t ask for help/ideas from other countries.



  4. YU on Monday March 11th, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I watched a TV program called “TV タックル” tonight.
    Four people from tsunami-hit area, a fisherman, a shopkeeper, a shiitake farmer, and a constructor were invited to the program and complained about the extremely slow reconstruction progress by the govenment to politicians.
    Apparently, the government and Miyagi prefecture plan to rebuild seawalls along the coast throughout Miyagi prefecture, but what surprised me most was the fact that not many affected people were in favor of rebuilding them.

    The fisherman said that it would be very hard for fishermen to land fish if all the coast was block up with the seawalls.
    The shiitake farmer said that many people were against rebuilding them because lots of people failed to escape and lost their lives as they coudln’t see the huge tunami exactly because of the seawalls!



  5. Tomoaki on Tuesday March 12th, 2013 at 06:35 AM

    Hi David and everyone

    March 11th 14:42 two years ago, I was in Yokohama and on my way to home from driver’s license examination. I can’t forget what happened at that time.

    By the way, here are my answers.

    >Do you think enough has been done to help the people who were affected?
    >Are you happy with the way the government has responded to their needs?

    No, I don’t, but I think, one way or the other, rebuilding progressed considerably. The people’s needs who were affected are so many and different depending on people. It is too difficult to meet all their needs. As you know, Japanese government doesn’t like bearing responsibilities, so they make their decision by the whole committee as possible. It may be one reason why rebuilding is so slow. However, I can understand why they think so and want to do so. Therefore, though I don’t happy with the way the government has responded to the people’s needs, I can’t criticize it strongly. This is hard case.



  6. Biwa on Tuesday March 12th, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Hi YU and everyone,

    >but what surprised me most was the fact that not many affected people were in favor of rebuilding them.

    Talking about seawalls, I read an article saying almost the same thing. It said there is a huge difference between what people really want and what the government is trying to do. No one knows how tall or big the next tsunami would be, and it sounds a lot more realistic to think of a more effective way to evacuate the people from the coastal area instead of blocking up the entire coast with ugly seawalls. Of course, places like hospitals, schools and city halls should be rebuilt on higher places though. I think it’s really important to listen to what people really want.

    Hi Tomoaki,

    >Japanese government doesn’t like bearing responsibilities, so they make their decision by the whole committee as possible.

    I think that is very true. Mr. Abe is saying he will make sure that people in the front line can make decisions on the spot, but I suspect it won’t work well as long as he doesn’t decide the framework first. I really wonder if people can actually decide things without knowing the final outline.



  7. David Barker on Tuesday March 12th, 2013 at 01:22 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    I think you will find that the reason the government is in favour of seawalls is that the big construction companies are in favour of seawalls – for obvious reasons! I’m afraid the opinions of the people of Tohoku will not be a very important factor in this debate. It’s all about money.

    And as usual, of course, there will be lots of nice “amakudari” to the construction companies for the government officials who gave them the contracts in the first place.



  8. Biwa on Tuesday March 12th, 2013 at 01:23 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I think another reason for the extremely slow rebuilding is that there is actually no place to throw the radioactive contaminated dirt and water away. That’s why the decontamination doesn’t proceed at all. Plastic(?) bags and huge tanks full of those dirt and water are piled up high in temporary places like baseball stadiums or schoolyards, and it’s really scary. Is it safe to keep them like that first of all?

    I know they’re looking for places to seal it away for ever, and of course, no one would say “Yes, you can keep it in our place.” To be honest, I would even say “Please don’t.” if they decided to bury it near my house. I think we need to solve this problem first to carry out the reconstruction.



  9. Biwa on Tuesday March 12th, 2013 at 01:31 PM

    Hi David,

    I found your comment right after I posted mine!

    Exactly. I’ll just wait and see the investors to start selling the stocks, and Japanese economy=Abenomics will fail in the very near future.
    However, it’s really sad because we can’t have the beautiful scenery back again after they build those ugly walls. Everything is too late, as always!



  10. YU on Tuesday March 12th, 2013 at 05:42 PM

    Hi David, Biwa, and everyone,

    Most of the guests in the TV show last night were from 気仙沼 city. According to them, Miyagi prefecture can’t start the city reconstruction unless Kesennuma city finishes raising land subcidense area of 1.8M first of all.

    As Biwa says, I think the first thing the government has to do is not raising land or rebuilding seawalls, but to rebuild residential area, hospitals, schools and city hall, etc… on high ground and to build new tsunami refuge buildings for fishemen and those concerned with the fishing industry, so that they can get back to their normal lives before the tsunami attack.

    Anyway, apart from the seawall issue, there seems to be a lot of problems standing in the way of progress.
    If you are interested, here is the video of the TV show.

    http://toracyan53.blog60.fc2.com/blog-entry-4000.html



  11. Fumie on Tuesday March 12th, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I think, in general, rebuilding of the disaster-hit regions have been slow. The figure show that still 315,196 people are living in cramped temporally housing units, immediate support should be given to them to live in proper houses.
    Also, many jobs which were damaged, can’t restart their businesses yet.
    In some cases, there are disputes between citizens whether they proceed the reconstruction or not、 if so, what action should they take? Should they wait until people meet on common ground? Or if they wait until everyone agree on, it never move on so they should try a plan and if it didn’t work well, they should try another plan.
    P.M. Abe said in his speech, the government should also take anti-disaster measures. I really want them to do it quickly. Another big earthquake might hit us at any time.
    概して震災復興のスピードは遅いと思います。統計によればいまだに315,196人の人たちが狭い仮設住宅でくらしてるそうです。この人たちがきちんとした家に住めるように早急な援助が必要だと思います。また被害にあった多くの企業も再開できてません。
    再建を進めるか進めないか住民の間で意見が対立することもあります。その場合どうすればいいのでしょうか?みんなの意見が一致するまで待つべきなんでしょうか?そんなことをしていたらいつまでたっても前に進みません。なのであるプランをためしてみてうまくいかなければ別のプランをやってみるのもいいかもしれません。
    安部首相が災害に強い街づくり(災害対策)をめざすと言っていました。また大きな災害がいつ襲ってくるかわかりませんから、災害対策を早急に進めてほしいです。



  12. Kattie on Tuesday March 12th, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Hi everyone,

    Talking about seawalls, we watched a programme about the Tsunami the other day and it said that the seawalls, in some areas, should have been high enough to stop the water but they didn’t work because the land had subsided by so much. It also seems that a lot of people didn’t take the tsunami threat seriously enough because they thought the seawalls would protect them, so actually having them caused some of the fatalities.

    I suppose seawalls are still effective when there are smaller tsunamis and they might even be useful where there are big tsunamis because they might buy people a little more time to escape, providing of course people can see the tsunami coming, take the threat seriously and have good evacuation plans



  13. Biwa on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 09:56 AM

    Hi everyone,

    For the seawall discussion, I think we have to remeber that Tohoku is a place with numbers of fishing ports. Many people work in the fishing industry, not only fishing but also wholesale and processing. There are lots of those markets and factories along the coast, so if we cover up the entire coast with high seawalls, it might block up those people’s evacuation routes. Also, considering that Japan is a country with no specific resources and also suffering a serious population decrease, it’s really important not to lose value as a tourism country. I don’t think many people would want to visit a place with high seawalls blocking the view. I understand seawalls are very effective, but I hope they consider from other sides, too.

    By the way, it is said that the construction companies working in Tohoku are having a serious shoratge of both manpower and materials. Combined together with Abenomics’ revitalization of the construction industry, it semms to be another reason why the rebuilding doesn’t go on smoothly. The shortage is causing price-rise for both labor and materials, and lots of companies give up to take the rebuilding project because it won’t pay. (I really hope you don’t have any troubles when you build your new house, David.)
    I’m very interested in Mr. Abe’s reaction to solve this problem!



  14. Biwa on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 09:58 AM

    Sorry, “it semms to be” should be “it seems to be”



  15. YU on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Hi Kattie,

    As Kattie mentioned, a lot of people didn’t take the tsunami threat seriously enough, no one thought that it was that huge.

    > where there are big tsunamis because they might buy people a little more time to escape, providing of course people can see the tsunami coming, take the threat seriously and have good evacuation plans

    Those who live or work in coastal areas regularly hold earthquake/tsunami drills in school, at the workplace and at home, the victims of the tsunami last time were no exception.
    Those areas have experienced a number of earthquakes and tsunamis in the past and everyone there knew how to escape from tsunamis very well, but it just didn’t work for the tsunami last time because it happened twice and the second one was an ebb tide and bigger than the first one.

    I heard that many people went home by car after the first tsunami to rescue their grandparents or young children, it caused a major traffic jam and finally everyone lost their lives.

    Hi Biwa,

    > I think we have to remeber that Tohoku is a place with numbers of fishing ports. Many people work in the fishing industry, not only fishing but also wholesale and processing.

    Exactly.
    I think the problem was the fact that all those victims lived or went to schools in low-lying coastal areas, so as I mentioned, people need to move to higher places, like places where used to used as evacuation areas before. In addition to that, enough number of tunami refuge buildings in the coastal areas should be built for people in fishing industry first of all.

    > The shortage is causing price-rise for both labor and materials, and lots of companies give up to take the rebuilding project because it won’t pay.

    If you watch the video I posted, you may find a bright idea to solve those problems(It starts from around 41:00).
    It is the projects which are conducted in 東松島 city. They stopped depending only on the government and thought up utilizing the vitality of both the government and the private sector in their city rebuilding projects.
    They have private corporations(民間社団法人) make the reconstruction plans and construction companies carry them out. As you know, private associations are good at making speedy, felexible, and beneficial plans than the government.



  16. YU on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    【corrections】

    > As Kattie mentioned
    As “you” mentioned

    > like places where used to used as evacuation areas before
    ….where used to “be” used as evacuation….



  17. Mika on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    How are you?
    I’m sorry but I’d like to comment in Japanese again.

    すでに皆さんが指摘されている通り、復興が遅々として進まないのは「様々な要因があり、またそこには利権が絡んでいる」と私も思います。しかし、一番問題なのは首相以下ほとんどの政治家が災害に遭遇された方々に対して「心ではなく頭で考えて対応している」ことではないでしょうか。「政治家が痛みを感じるのは落選したときだけ」と言ったら過言でしょうか? 心の底から被災者たちを思いやる対応をしているとは、残念ながら見えません。その一例に、適切に対応できていれば、義援金の不適切な使用(流用というべきか)は起こらなかったはずです。代わりに、元の場所に再建許可が下りない人々へ、安住の地を提供しているはずです。今は、彼らには岸壁よりも家が必要なのです。

    実は、私の父は昭和51年、雨台風の被害で家もろとも土石流に押し流され、3日後に発見されました。長い生命線を持っていた父が65歳で一命を落としたのですが、身体に損傷が無かったことは家族にとって唯一救われたことでした。母は奇跡的に助かりましたが、足の骨にひびが入っていました。家財道具や家電その他多くの物が壊れ、泥だらけになりました。それでも今回の東北地方の津波の被害と大きく異なるのは、まだ沢山の大切な物が残っていたことです。元の場所に家を建てることに制限はありませんでしたが、家族全員誰一人として望まず、兄は土地を購入して家を建てました。当然のことながら金銭的に大変でした。
    今、私はこのように父のことを話していますが、30年余話すことも、書くこともできませんでした。40年近く経つ今でも、元屋敷の場所を見ると、心が痛みます。
    たとえ東北地方の被災者たちが笑顔を見せても、彼らの深い悲しみはなかなか消えないと思います。一生背負っていかれる方も少ないと思います。それでも生きていかなくてはいけないのです。「生き残って良かった」と思える日が、一日でも多いことを祈るばかりです。



  18. YU on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Hi Mika,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    My husband’s parents’ house in Indonesia was completly destroyed after the earthquake in May 2006(not Sumatra earthquake). It was just after three months from our 入籍日.
    Fortunately, no one died in his family, but his mother was injured.

    My husband and I were going to hold our wedding party at his parents’ house just two weeks later from the earthquake day.
    We immediately booked a hotel for ourselves(because his family slept in the tents for disaster victims) and flew to Indonesia.

    When we arrived, everyone was busy with cleaning up rubble of their houses just like we saw after the earthquake in Tohoku, so we helped them every day until we went back to Japan.

    It did’t take him long to learn to talk about this story to others, but I think it was just because he didn’t lose his family, unlike you.

    > たとえ東北地方の被災者たちが笑顔を見せても、彼らの深い悲しみはなかなか消えないと思います。一生背負っていかれる方も少ないと思います。それでも生きていかなくてはいけないのです。「生き残って良かった」と思える日が、一日でも多いことを祈るばかりです。

    I really hope so, too.



  19. Biwa on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 01:07 PM

    Hi Mika and YU,

    Thank you for sharing your stories. I’m so sorry to hear what happened to your families.
    I really agree when you say if the politicians had felt true sympathy towards the sufferers, they would have never ever diverted the money into other projects.

    And YU, thanks I watched the part you told us.
    It seems that the people in Higashi-matsushima city were well prepared for the tsunami because it was their second time in 10 years. Anyway, I think it’s a very good idea to have those private corporations involved in the reconstruction planning. However, I guess the difference in the reconstruction speed among each city will become larger, and it will be really hard for the cities or towns without these ideas to find a company to rebuild their places because it seems that we’re lacking construction workers first of all.



  20. Anne on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 01:40 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    Two years ago on 3/11, I was out and felt the ground shake even though I was far away from the Tohoku region.

    What I can do to help people in the devastated area is limited; buying goods from Tohoku or donating from time to time. However, most importantly, I do remember the day. I watched several TV programs these couple of day concerning the stories of the 3/11. People who lost their beloved families told their thoughts, and it’s really heartbreaking.

    Many people have complained that the progress in the rebuilding effort has been slow and the government hasn’t responded to their needs. That is true to some extent, but on the other hand, as Tomoaki mentioned, I think it’s quite difficult to meet everyone’s needs.

    PM Abe pledged a plan this Monday to speed up the reconstruction of the Tohoku area. One of the plans was that he gave two Cabinet posts in the Reconstruction Agency(復興庁) to Diet members who had experienced former big earthquakes to proceed with more attentive and quick reconstruction; one is Mr.Tani who used to work for Hyogo prefecture and was deeply involved to reconstruct when Hanshin earthquake hit in 1995, and the other is Mr.Nagashima who was a mayor in Yamakoshi village when earthquake hit Niigata in 2004 and worked hard for the reconstruction.

    Since the LDP(Liberal Democratic Party/自民党) claimed the DPJ(Democratic Party of Japan/民主党)had done baldly, and the LDP has watched what the former government had done, so I hope this government does better by learning from the DPJ’s past failure. Am I too simpleminded?

    I heard stories from a friend of mine who who had volunteered twice (last summer and fall) in the Tohokuarea. According to her, the progress differs depending on the local leaders and how the mayors show their leadership and put together the ideas of the locals.
    Also, the DPJ cut the works funding, and that is one of the reasons that the construction project there are delayed. I understand they are bad habits (evil?), however, I guess there are tow aspects to everything.

    Hi everyone,
    As for the seawall discussion, I agree with you guys.

    Hi Mika,
    I’m sorry to hear the loss of your father. Thank you for shring the story. It must have been sad.

    Anne



  21. YU on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 02:27 PM

    Hi Biwa and everyone,

    > However, I guess the difference in the reconstruction speed among each city will become larger

    I think so, too, and someone(expert) said almost the same thing as you in the program, but I don’t think it could be the reason for each city to just accept the government plans passively. I don’t think all cities need to keep pace with others, either. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    > because it seems that we’re lacking construction workers first of all.

    That’s true, but my husband always says he can’t understand why “many” of those who lost workplace still stick to their former jobs and don’t like to become a temporal construction worker for the reconstruction of their hometown.
    In his hometown, lots of disaster victims who lost his workplace turned into construction workers temporarily(my husband’s elder brother was one of them) and it led to the quick reconstruction finally.
    I know some construction work need high skills, but I don’t think all of them need such high skills because actually lots of farmers in Tohoku region work away from home during the winter and most of them usually do construction work.



  22. Kattie on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 07:35 PM

    Hi Biwa

    > There are lots of those markets and factories along the coast, so if we cover up the entire coast with high seawalls, it might block up those people’s evacuation routes. Also, considering that Japan is a country with no specific resources and also suffering a serious population decrease, it’s really important not to lose value as a tourism country

    Thank you for pointing this out. We have no experience of this type of natural disaster in the UK so I’m sure we tend to over-simplify things, it’s very interesting for me to hear your views.

    Hi Yu
    >it just didn’t work for the tsunami last time because it happened twice and the second one was an ebb tide and bigger than the first one.

    I heard that many people went home by car after the first tsunami to rescue their grandparents or young children, it caused a major traffic jam and finally everyone lost their lives.

    That’s really terrible. After we watched the TV programme the other night, Tom said he kept having bad dreams about it.

    Hi Mika,
    I cannot read Japanese but I understand from other people’s comments that your family have been badly affected by an earthquake (I don’t know if it was this one) and I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father.



  23. Kyon on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 08:10 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    Long time no see.

    -Do you think enough has been done to help the people who were affected? Are you happy with the way the government has responded to their needs?

    No, I don’t think so.
    It is true the restoration speed is very slow. I hope the new Abe government will speed up the restoration project.

    I hear that the number of suicides is increasing especially among middle age or older men. What they (the affected people) fear the most is that other people ( we) are forgetting them. The most important thing for us is to remember them and 3.11 .

    The seawall discussion
    I expect all people in Miyagi pref. immediately to stand up together and oppose to the ridiculous plan. It would be more dangerous as people can’t see a tsunami coming beyond the wall. You know the high seawalls which were nicknamed “Great Wall of Taro” . The school children and nursery kids in Taro (田老地区) survived the disaster because the school janitor or secretary noticed the danger of tsunami after seeing strange smoke(not tsunami) beyond the high walls. Many would have died without her wisdom.

    Mika and Yu,
    I’m very sorry to hear what happened to your families.

    > たとえ東北地方の被災者たちが笑顔を見せても、彼らの深い悲しみはなかなか消えないと思います。一生背負っていかれる方も少ないと思います。それでも生きていかなくてはいけないのです。「生き残って良かった」と思える日が、一日でも多いことを祈るばかりです。
    -I really really hope so .

    Last year I went to Iwate prefecture with my workmates and we had a chance to talk to many people in the affected areas. Most of them lost their beloved families or friends.

    I met Mrs. Akiko Iwasaki, the owner of“ Hourai-kan宝来館”, a Japanese inn in Kamaishi city. She was attacked and swept away by the tsunami and barely escaped death. Some of you might know her because of this video. http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm17297236

    I tried not to miss a word she said then. I remember what she said like this,
    “ Time passes and sorrow grows deeper. Nothing is unbreakable. However, if you survive, you can restart your life. WE will restore the Sanriku region. Every time I go to Tokyo, I feel Tokyo is the past city and my hometown Kamaishi is the future town that coexists with nature.”
    時間が経っても、悲しみは消えない、悲しみはさらに大きくなる。形あるものは壊れる。だが、生き延びれば再生できる。壊されても生きなおす。三陸は再生する。東京は過去の町だと思う。ここは自然と共存する未来の町だ。

    I also met Mr. Masahiko Haga from KiriKiri(吉里吉里) in Otsuchi-cho(大槌町). (http://www.globis.jp/2030)

    Right after the disaster, people lost contact with the local governments. Mr. Haga and other men at the shelter built makeshift infrastructure such as roads, toilets, a heliport and etc. by removing debris . Four days after, the rescue team of the Self-Defense Forces arrived and started helping them and searching missing people. He and his team are now working on a project called “Forest for Restoration “ by tree thinning.

    What he said is still echoing in my heart.
    “I am determined to live a decent life with the firm pride and skills to receive natural blessings from nature. If many people here enjoy every day of spiritually affluent life that is not poor but simple, this town will become a wonderful community. There would be no place like this town. I am reflecting on my life before the tsunami struck. People compared their lives with urban ones and thought having a good life with handsome income in a clean community was a good thing.

    In Kirikiri, we are always with the sea, rivers, mountains and the sky. We want to learn how to make the best use of the blessings from nature and live with the firm pride in receiving them. We must learn how our predecessors coexisted with nature , if not, there would be no future for the next and further generation. We learned this from the earthquake and tsunami.” He was just like Kenji Miyazawa.

    Mr. Haga and Mrs. Iwasaki were ordinary people before the disaster and today they are leaders in their communities and other people feel encouraged by just seeing them . I think true restoration will start from those strong-hearted people like them. Surprisingly, they never complained about the governments. On the contrary she said, “Japan is a wonderful country. They didn’t make us refugees.” I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard her words. Kyon



  24. Kyon on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 08:33 PM

    Everyone,
    The video attached in my comment didn’t work.
    If you are interested, please look at the scene around 5.36 minutes past which made Ms. Iwasaki famous.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDSUeTrBdPk&feature=player_detailpage

    She restarted her business.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHkmor6Mi-8&feature=player_detailpage

    Kyon



  25. amo on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 08:33 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    Today was a scheduled day off, but it seemed like a sick leave. I couldn’t get up until 11am, and I spent all day at home. I must be coming down with something. Anyway, I am not feeling well so I will pass this week topic.

    Good night,
    amo



  26. Mika on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 09:37 PM

    Hi YU, Biwa, Anne, Kattie, and Kyon,

    Thank you for your thoughtful words of comfort.
    It brought tears to my eyes.

    Hi Kyon,
    I watched the video about the owner of Hourai-kan and it was moved to tears. She is amazing.



  27. Tomoaki on Wednesday March 13th, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    Hi Mika and everyone

    I’m so sorry to hear your story. It is very sad story.

    >しかし、一番問題なのは首相以下ほとんどの政治家が災害に遭遇された方々に対して「心ではなく頭で考えて対応している」ことではないでしょうか。

    I think it may be true that many politicians seem heartless and top-heavy with ideas. It is very important problem. However, I also think if they think emotionally, people would distrust politicians more than ever. Many Japanese people may like 大岡裁き(
    Ooka Tadasuke
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%8Coka_Tadasuke
    ), and I like it, but it means that you are ruled by People not Law. Needless to say, if it so, we couldn’t expect what we would be done by them. Therefore, politicians and administrators must keep the laws strictly, and they make laws to contribute to the whole.

    In the case of restoration, land problems are very popular problem. Please look this article below:

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20130312-OYT1T00013.htm?from=ylist

    This is one of the reasons why politicians can’t decide to allow people to build their houses even on their land, and politicians spend many times to make only one decision.

    http://www.mlit.go.jp/common/000213960.pdf

    I’m sure what Mika want to say and I also feel irritating thought to government. However, we have to distinguish many things. It is easier said “harry up” than done.

    I think one of the things what people should do is to elect best politicians not only by what TV said but also by their own thoughts. I can’t believe the consequence of last election.

    Mikaのいうことはよくわかります。僕も遅々として進まない復興に被災者ではないですが、いらいらしています。しかし、土地の問題なんかは法的に非常に複雑で、登記簿に載っているものが実際と違ったり、上の記事のように地震で土地そのものが変わってしまったりするようです。一方で、個々人にとってはとても重要な問題なので、早くしてほしいという気持ちもわかります。それに、早くすべきだということはいくら言っても言い足りないくらいだと思います。これは難しい問題だと思います。堤防の話はどちらかと言えばわかりやすいケースなので、いるのかいらないのかというだけで結論がつきますが、全てがそうとは限らないのでそこら辺は分けて考えなければならないような気もします。結局、行政が復興を行なっていくにあたり、障害となるもの(例えば、法律や決定権限など)をうまく除外できる政治家を選挙で選ぶしかわたしたちにできるもっとも効果的な方法なのではないでしょうか?その意味で僕は前回の結果にやや驚きを隠せませんでした。



  28. Fumie on Thursday March 14th, 2013 at 06:48 AM

    Hi Mika and YU,

    Thank you for sharing your stories. I’m so sorry to hear what happened to your families. It must be so hard. I don’t think time always heal sorrow like Mrs. Iwasaki’s words, “ Time passes and sorrow grows deeper.”

    Hi Kyon,

    Thank you for sharing great stories. You heard their stories firsthand. What they have been doing is so great after having experienced such a tragedy. Their words tugged at my heartstrings.

    Hi amo,

    Take good care of yourself! I hope you get better soon.



  29. Anne on Thursday March 14th, 2013 at 07:23 AM

    corrections;

    >who who had volunteered—who had volunteered
    >tow aspects—two aspects >for shring the story— for sharing the story

    Hi YU,
    I’m sorry to hear what had happened to your family. This reminds me of my friend whose house was destroyed and almost all things were swept away because of the typhoon in 昭和51年. I was so shocked to see her place when I visited her to help after the typhoon.

    Hi Kyon,

    Thanks for sharing the stories and video. I was almost crying when I saw the video.
    Hi Tomoaki,

    >In the case of restoration, land problems are very popular problem
    >This is one of the reasons why politicians can’t decide to allow people to build their houses even on their land, and politicians spend many times to make only one decision
    —Yes, it’s a long and daunting work.

    Hi amo,

    Take care!

    Anne



  30. YU on Thursday March 14th, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for your kind messages.

    Hi Kyon,

    Long time no see.

    > I expect all people in Miyagi pref. immediately to stand up together and oppose to the ridiculous plan.

    I agree, but the fisherman in the video I posted said that they actually protested against the plan to Miyagi prefecture many times at 住民説明会, but they(Miyagi prefecture) just repeated the
    same explanation as if it was a fixed plan. I suspect there must have been some dark reasons in it as everyone says.
    漁師たちは必死に抗議して県に撤回を求めたけど県側はただそれが規定の決定事項であるかのようにあくまでも「最初から防潮堤再建ありき」で同じ説明を繰り返すだけだった、と言っていました。

    Hi Tomoaki,

    > I think one of the things what people should do is to elect best politicians not only by what TV said but also by their own thoughts.

    I think so, too.
    I always wonder why people(including me!)like to criticize politicians we chose ourselves.
    Doesn’t it actually mean we criticize ourselves?
    But anyway, the first thing we should do is to have interest in politics and have our own thoughts as you say.



  31. Biwa on Thursday March 14th, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Hi YU, Tomoaki and everyone,

    >I suspect there must have been some dark reasons in it as everyone says.

    I really think so, too. As David said before, it’s just all about money. I always feel very powerless and angry because most of the ordinary people’s oppinions aren’t reflected in the government’s reactions.
    The strong party(DPJ) is strongly connected with major industries, and they always gather up those votes. I guess Churchill was right, “Democracy is the worst form of government.”
    Anyway, it’s ridiculous that they’re trying to build something no one really needs, with people’s money!

    Hi Kattie,

    I wanted to translate Mika’s words earlier, but sorry I was worn out last night. Anyway, you have a good understanding, but just to make sure, Mika’s father passed away because he was swept away altogether with his house by the terrible typhoon in 1976. (It seems like Anne’s friend was also badly affected by the same typhoon.) Her mother has barely survived although her leg was broken. She said the politicians should sympathize with the sufferers with their hearts(souls), not with their heads(bodies). What the sufferers need right now is not a seawall but their own houses.

    Hi Kyon,

    Thanks for the links. I’ll watch them later.

    Hi amo,

    Hope you’re feeling better today. Take care!



  32. Biwa on Thursday March 14th, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Sorry! I wanted to to say LDP!!, not DPJ!



  33. Mika on Thursday March 14th, 2013 at 05:21 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    Thank you for your helping me.
    By the way, how are you feeling now?
    Take a good rest.



  34. Biwa on Thursday March 14th, 2013 at 09:28 PM

    Hi Mika,

    Not at all:) Sorry, I couldn’t translate all, it was too difficult. And thanks, I’m fine. It’s just that little children are so energetic that I’m always fast asleep in three seconds after I lie down on my bed. Ha-ha! Maybe I’m lucky.

    Hi Kyon,

    >Surprisingly, they never complained about the governments. On the contrary she said, “Japan is a wonderful country. They didn’t make us refugees.”

    Thanks, I watched some of the videos. I really hope these people’s beautiful and strong feelings won’t be wasted.



  35. Biwa on Friday March 15th, 2013 at 08:00 AM

    Hi everyone,

    This has nothing to do with the topic, but does anyone know a good onomatopoeia(擬音語)you would use when you’re starving? I know “My stomach is growling.”, but are there any expressions like “goo-goo(ぐーぐー)” or “kyuru-kyuru(きゅるきゅる~)”?



  36. Anne on Friday March 15th, 2013 at 08:50 AM

    Hi Biwa,
    I would say,”グルグル(guru-guru)(なる)” besides “ぐーぐー.”

    As for “ぐーぐー”, it reminds me of the expression”ぐーぐー”ねる^^)

    Anne



  37. Biwa on Friday March 15th, 2013 at 09:15 AM

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks, but I was looking for an English onomatopoeia.

    By the way, I found an article which says Japanese has five times more onomatopoeias (confusing spelling, isn’t it!) than English.
    They created many because Japanese is a language with fewer syllables than other languages. Here’s the link. http://r25.yahoo.co.jp/fushigi/rxr_detail/?id=20071004-90002802-r25

    Maybe there aren’t such words in English from the beginning.



  38. Mika on Friday March 15th, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Hi Biwa,
    Good morning.

    >Maybe there aren’t such words in English from the beginning.

    Please check these,
    ttp://home.alc.co.jp/db/owa/s_kaydic?ctg_in=4
    http://homepage3.nifty.com/k_tomita~s/romarin/data/Onomatope/Onomatope_E0.htm



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