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In the wake of the March 2011 disasters, encouraging phrases in various dialects gave residents of tsunami-devastated Tohoku a much-needed psychological lift, but those same dialects are battling to survive amid the exodus of young people from the region.

Magenedo, Miyagi!” (“Miyagi won’t give up!”) was a slogan used to inspire downcast residents in Miyagi Prefecture, while the town of Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture used banners reading “Ganbappeshi, Otsuchi!” (“Otsuchi will keep on going!”) to encourage townspeople to hang in there.

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