• Kyodo

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A processed fish cake factory in Miyagi Prefecture that survived the massive tsunami disaster in 2011 will likely be dismantled next month following discussions on whether the building should be preserved as a reminder of the catastrophe, local officials said.

The removal of the two-story building will leave the seaside Yuriage community in the city of Natori with almost no buildings that show visible traces of the disaster. More than 700 people in Yuriage were killed in the Great East Japan Earthquake and the ensuing tsunami, which reached as high as 9 meters as it engulfed the district.

Most of the buildings there were washed away, but the Sasakama processed fish cake factory, built in 1982, withstood the calamity. Naoya Sasaki, 72, president of fishery processing company Sasanao that owned the factory, also survived by moving to an upper floor within the building.

“White waves came straight toward me from the horizon far away. It was a bizarre (situation) and I was just so scared,” Sasaki recalled.

The city had initially planned to preserve the factory as a reminder of the natural disaster, but questions were raised about whether it is appropriate to use a private business facility to keep the memory alive. The mayor at that time subsequently gave up the plan in June 2015.

A memorial park will be created in the area including where the factory currently stands, and Sasaki has been left with no choice but to agree to dismantle the building.

He expressed disappointment over the latest developments, saying, “Why did that building survive such a massive tsunami? I was hoping it could be used for research, and to convey (the memories of the disaster) to future generations.”

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