Eight years after the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, reconstruction of the Pacific coastal areas of Tohoku ravaged by the giant tsunami has made significant progress in terms of infrastructure, with the planned construction of seawalls, roads damaged in the tsunami and public housing for people who lost their homes nearly complete. The 10-year intensive reconstruction period, for which the government set aside ¥32 trillion, will end in about two years. But efforts to rebuild people's lives that were shattered by the multiple disasters eight years ago are still only halfway done and must be sustained for many more years ahead.

Of the 27 cities, towns and villages in the severely affected coastal areas of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, 24 municipalities have either completed their reconstruction projects or are set to do so by fiscal 2020. Of the roughly 30,000 public housing units planned for those who lost their homes in the disasters, 95 percent have been completed. Over 90 percent of the farmland and fisheries processing facilities ruined by the tsunami have been restored to arable and operable conditions. The JR Joban Line, which connects Tokyo and Tohoku on the Pacific coastal areas, is expected to resume full operation in March 2020 after reconstruction of a 20 km section in Fukushima Prefecture is finished.

At the same time, roughly 52,000 people remain displaced after they evacuated their hometowns in the 2011 disasters. Although far fewer than the number of evacuees just after the disaster, which peaked at some 470,000, around 40,000 residents of Fukushima Prefecture, who were forced to flee in the wake of the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after it lost its emergency power, remain unable to return to their homes. Reconstruction of public infrastructure continues to lag behind in the prefecture, where some of the areas around the crippled Tepco plant remain off-limits to residents.