The scale of the task facing Ishinomaki’s planners becomes apparent as Kenichi Horiuchi spread out a map detailing the revival plan. Horiuchi, deputy head in the reconstruction division of the Ishinomaki Government, points to a long strip of land that was once home to about 7,500 people near the sea that has been condemned as too dangerous to rebuild on. Inland are areas where new houses have been built for a small proportion of the thousands left homeless.
“Many of the people who lost their homes were living near the coast and along the river tributary,” he said. “They can’t move back to the same place, so now we have the problem of deciding where to put them.”
The city hopes to have 4,000 new homes ready by March 2016, but at the end of last year, only about 150 had been completed, of which about 100 were occupied. Horiuchi says that the slow pace of reconstruction, coupled with a fear of future tsunamis, means that some residents will never return.