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Three years after 3/11, how is the Tohoku recovery effort going?

by Liane Wakabayashi

In the waiting room at Tokyo Station, Liane Wakabayashi asked passengers en route to Tohoku for their opinions on recovery efforts since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which devastated the region three years ago.

Yuri, 19
Kyoto Institute of Technology student from Hakodate, Hokkaido
I haven’t see the hardest-hit areas with my own eyes so I can’t speak about details, but judging by reports in the newspapers and on television, I think the recovery isn’t complete. I believe what I see on Hodo Station at 10 p.m. on TV Asahi, which has more liberal opinions, and I trust the interviews with local people when they describe the conditions there.

Satoshi, 23
Student at Tohoku Pharmaceutical College in Sendai, from Tokushima city
I think people are starting to forget the Great Earthquake. The infrastructure of central Sendai has almost returned to the way it was. The energy of Sendai residents has also returned to the level it was at before the earthquake.

Ami, 22
Nurse in Fukushima city
The government is being too passive; it isn’t doing enough to clean up the irradiated soil. I want them to take action on behalf of the people of Fukushima. I want to get credible information and see a speed-up in the recovery efforts. I also want the recovery to concentrate more on areas that were damaged by the earthquake (rather than the tsunami) that need to be rebuilt.

Haru, 23
Office worker in Fukushima city
The government made a promise to Fukushima residents to clean the irradiated soil and plants around the houses and rooftops where radiation gathers, but not enough progress has been made. My four complaints are: 1) The radiation rates are still higher than before; 2) Compared to before, I can’t go out as much; 3) The food in the local markets is limited because it doesn’t meet safety standards; 4) I’m anxious about getting sick.

Tomohiro Umetsu, 35
Office worker in Fukushima city
Compared to other areas of the prefecture, I think recovery in Fukushima has progressed, but people are still anxious about radiation, so the question of how to support these people is an important one. There are rumors that the food grown in Fukushima isn’t safe, so we need to focus on how to reassure people in other parts of Japan that it is.

Chieko Nakajima, 66
Retired university professor living in Miyagi Prefecture
Not enough is being done; more permanent housing is required. City and local governments need to help and support the people living in temporary housing so that they can become independent, have their own apartments and work. People’s attention is still focused on the tsunami victims. I don’t see any budget to assist the people who lost their mountainside homes due to the earthquake, even though three years have passed.

Interested in gathering views in your area? Mail community@japantimes.co.jp.