Entire towns were erased in one terrible wave. And with the added terror of nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear plant, its surrounding prefectures become toxic and will be irradiated for years to come, with lives interrupted and homes abandoned. Many people were barely able to recover belongings, let alone clean family graves that survived the disaster. Residents whose homes were destroyed by the tsunami or rendered uninhabitable by the nuclear disaster are now living in temporary housing complexes, in a limbo torn between a need to feel at home and the fear of being abandoned forever. The events of March 2011 stripped away almost everything that once made these residents proud. Small towns in Tohoku are no longer on the news. Although they're out of sight and out of people's minds, the disaster is far from over.
Economic recovery and rebuilding will continue for more than 10 years, with ongoing work to repair damage, remove mountains of remaining debris, begin rebuilding, and cope with nuclear contamination. A decade of recovery after Japan’s “lost decade”.
Sadly, all efforts are plagued by a number of serious political problems.
They include an unwillingness of the mainstream press to fully investigate or to place news in analytical context; an unwillingness of elites in position of authority, whether in the private sector or the government, to put aside politics as usual and address the needs of the many victims; and a lingering unwillingness on the part of many citizens to openly challenge the government even though many people privately voice their total distrust of government claims and cynicism about its motivations.
The startling empty spaces symbolize what once was, but also what might be with signs of renewed life and resilience from the local population.