Sun, Mar 10, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Rebuilding lags in tsunami-hit towns

SLOW WORK:Despite a US$268 billion budget, efforts to rebuild areas hit by 2011’s tsunami are hamstrung by red tape and a lack of government urgency, frustrating locals

AP, RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan

The company only employs a couple of dozen people, but founder Takaaki Abe plans to expand and is also setting up more dome farms further south, in areas near the wrecked nuclear plant.

Fated to a clean slate, Rikuzentakata and its neighbors have blueprints for remaking themselves into modern cities powered by clean energy and sustained by industries better suited for their fast-aging populations, such as rehabilitation facilities.

The plan calls for a mega-solar project in pastureland above the nearby city of Ofunato, where the soil’s radiation readings now exceed revised exposure standards, making it unsuitable for livestock farming. It also calls for using local timber to build energy-efficient homes.

“If we can do it, we must do it,” said Toshinori Inada, a local official from central Japan who was just finishing a year long assignment in Rikuzentakata, where so many local officials died that those from other regions are needed to handle the huge workload of recovery and reconstruction.

This is Rikuzentakata’s chance to be reborn, Mayor Toba said. “If 10 years from now we only have 2,000 people living here, that won’t do.”

“We have to rebuild the town properly. It’s like a car wreck. If the car is totaled, then you can’t repair it. You have to get a new car,” he added.

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