Six Months After Waves, Rebuilding Eludes Japan Town
RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan—Efforts have largely stalled to rebuild cities and towns along Japan's northeast coast that were smashed six months ago by a cataclysmic tsunami, as renewal efforts are crippled by political wrangling and the task's sheer complexity.
In Rikuzenatakata, where rampaging waves on March 11 carried off nearly one-tenth of the population and obliterated the downtown, the city center remains a desolate plain. Studding the landscape are the gutted concrete shells of City Hall, a hospital and other buildings.
Six Months Later: Little Progress
Workers have pushed most of the splintered wood, tangled steel and other debris into piles several stories high. But there has been no real rebuilding in the low-lying areas that were once the heart of the community. It is unclear when such work will begin.
"Without a plan, we can't do anything," said Eiko Kanno, a 56-year-old housewife whose home, near one of Rikuzentakata's main fishing ports, was obliterated by the tsunami. She now lives in a prefabricated temporary dwelling on a hill overlooking the wave-swept flats.
Up and down the tsunami-wrecked coast, residents and municipal officials blame politicians in Tokyo, who they say have failed to make critical decisions that would let them move forward. The biggest immediate issue is a lack of money, they say. Also impeding progress are diverging views about what to rebuild, and how.
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