National

Tsunami-hit Japanese town completes divisive demolition of former municipal office

Kyodo

A town in Iwate Prefecture on Wednesday completed the demolition of its former municipal office building — where its mayor and 27 other workers were killed in the tsunami triggered by the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 — even though some people had sought to have it preserved as a memorial.

The work to tear down the two-story building in the town of Otsuchi started on Jan. 19.

“I wanted them to preserve (the building),” said a woman in her 40s who visited the site from the city of Wakayama, adding that she has to be careful about expressing her opinion because there “must be various thoughts on the issue.”

While some residents of Otsuchi said they did not want to see the building preserved because it reminded them of the tsunami, others said it should be kept as a memorial. In January, the Morioka District Court rejected a petition to suspend the demolition work.

The municipal government will develop the area into a green space and use it as a site for parking vehicles in the event of an emergency evacuation.