Otsuchi chief battles demographic ills

JIJI

Otsuchi Mayor Yutaka Ikarigawa is determined to fight the depopulation and aging trends threatening this coastal town in Iwate Prefecture, which lost about 10 percent of its residents to the March 2011 quake and tsunami.

“We aim to turn the crisis into a chance” to revive the town, he said in a recent interview.

“Population decline and aging are common problems in communities dependent on fishing across Japan,” including Otsuchi, he said, resolving to provide an example other fishing communities.

Ikarigawa took office in August 2011, ending a five-month vacancy in the top municipal post caused by the death of his predecessor, Koki Kato, who was carried away by the tsunami spawned by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011.

Noting he has been very busy since taking office, Ikarigawa said he will strive harder to secure land, promote redemarcation and the relocation of residents and create new businesses.

To strengthen its fishing industry, Otsuchi will set up a training institute for fishermen and create an integrated system for fishing, marine product processing and sales, Ikarigawa said.

Otsuchi will also efficiently use a stock company for local development that the town set up with the private sector, he said, underscoring the importance of getting the private sector involved revival projects.

Ikarigawa asked for “supralegal measures” from the central government to help speed up land inheritance from people who died in March 2011.