Japan tsunami: Recovery, so slowly

Japan tsunami: Recovery, so slowly

JAPAN - It has been more than two years since the disaster but brain surgeon Hitoshi Suzuki still does not like talking about it. There are some wounds time cannot heal.

"I never want to remember the disaster, too many people died," said Dr Suzuki, 66, who lectures at the Ishinomaki Senshu University. The university is named after a fishing town in Japan's Miyagi prefecture, 150km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex.

In Ishinomaki, there are many who, like Dr Suzuki, wish to forget. But forgetting is difficult when reminders of the disaster are everywhere. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck about 70km off Ishinomaki's coast, causing tsunami waves over 7m high to crash over the fishing port, killing some 3,500 people and destroying and damaging almost three in four homes.

The earthquake and tsunami caused widespread destruction in three prefectures - Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima - and to this day are responsible for the enduring nuclear crisis in the country.

Late last month, 13 student journalists from Nanyang Technological University's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information spent 12 days in the fishing port of Ishinomaki - one of the worst-hit in the disaster - to document the struggles of residents and the reconstruction effort.

Their assignment was for the school's Going Overseas for Advanced Reporting (Go-Far) programme, an annual journalism course which exposes students to the challenges of reporting in a foreign country. Go-Far is supported by the Wee Kim Wee Legacy Fund and the Shinnyo-en Foundation.

Ishinomaki was chosen for this year's trip because it was one of the worst-hit towns.

With a population of 150,000, Ishinomaki is no bustling metropolis but it is still the second-biggest city in Miyagi prefecture. Its situation is typical of that in other disaster-stricken communities in north-eastern Japan.

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