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With the government poised to significantly reduce the subsidies handed out to areas recovering from the 3/11 catastrophe, will Ishinomaki be able to stand on its own? Alex K.T. Martin returned to the city in Miyagi Prefecture that he last visited shortly after the disasters of March 2011 to investigate.

Down the road in Kesennuma, actor Ken Watanabe has concentrated his efforts over the past decade on supporting the rebirth of that coastal city, with the opening of the K-Port cafe and event space. As Kyodo reports, Watanabe can often be found serving customers in the cafe when he’s not off on a filming assignment.

As for the fishing industry in the prefecture, 10 years of support has helped restore the business to something close to what it was before the disasters. But all that hard work risks being undermined by a perfect storm of global warming, low prices and a shortage of manpower.

The towering sea wall legacy of Japan's 2011 tsunami | AFP NEWS AGENCY
The towering sea wall legacy of Japan’s 2011 tsunami | AFP NEWS AGENCY

Things could be about to get even worse for fishermen in the region with the release into the sea of over 1 million tons of radioactive waste water currently being stored at the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Fukushima fisheries workers fear that a decade of hard work to restore the rep of local produce will be undone if the discharge goes ahead, reports Osamu Tsukimori.

While the tsunami altered the coastal areas of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures permanently, the most obvious new feature of the Tohoku coastline isn’t a natural one, it is manmade: vast concrete seawalls, running 350 km and counting, that have proven to be more than just physically divisive.

“These gray giants are at once visually striking and, to me, horrific eyesores that seem engineered to erase the existence of the sea,” writes Oscar Boyd in text accompanying his photo essay on the issue. Essential protection or eyesore? See the pictures and make up your own mind.

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)