I have made several visits to the tsunami devastated areas in Tohoku. The damages have been tremendous and heartbreaking. Now that the sorrow of lost lives and memories start to sink deep into the psyche, a hard question emerges.
To build or not to build, that is the question.
Historical records show that the area has been hit repeatedly by massive tsunamis in the past. Measures have been taken, including towering concrete walls to fend off the waves. While these precautions have helped to diminish and delay the effect of tsunami in some places, the size of the massive waves caused by the earthquake on 11th March meant many such walls were destroyed and/or overcome, with the water coming into the land with a brutal force.
The hardest choice to make now is whether to go ahead with rebuilding in the tsunami devastated areas. If it were not for the risk of tsunami, the seaside areas provide the most beautiful and comfortable living opportunities, with a convenient access to the sea for those people involved in fishery and related industries. On the other hand, the probabilities of future tsunami damages are understandably very real in people’s minds.
To complicate matters, no coastal area in Japan can be said to be safe from the threats of tsunami. Although the Tohoku area might stand out because of recent events, the possibility of a tsunami attack exist, both in theory and practice, throughout the land of Japan. Thus, making the choice of building and not building poses a hard question not only for people in Tohoku, but also for the rest of us all over Japan. It is a case where one’s philosophy of life is tested, on top of the probability estimates by seismology experts.