National

Despite some calling for it to be preserved, Iwate Prefecture town begins demolishing tsunami-hit former municipal hall

Kyodo

Work began Saturday to tear down a former town hall building in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, where dozens of people died after it was hit by a tsunami in 2011, despite calls by some local residents to preserve it as a memorial.

The demolition of the two-story building came after the Morioka District Court on Thursday rejected a petition to suspend the work. The building will be completely demolished by the end of February.

Otsuchi’s mayor and 27 officials died in the building when a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the region on March 11, 2011.

While some residents of Otsuchi said they no longer wanted to see the building because it reminded them of the tsunami, others said it should be preserved as a memorial.

The municipal government is now considering preserving some of the items that were left inside the building, including a wall clock that apparently stopped after the building was inundated by waves, and a ladder used by officials to evacuate to the roof.

“It’s the first step for the town to be reborn,” a resident in his 80s said while watching the demolition work.

But a 64-year-old woman who lives in the town said, “It is sad for the building to be destroyed. If it disappears, the disaster will be forgotten.”