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  5. An Examination of the Post-Earthquake Recovery from Local Perspectives

2011 Vol.3
An Examination of the Post-Earthquake Recovery from Local Perspectives


The number of dead or missing following the Great East Japan Earthquake has officially reached 22,000, which is more than three times that following the Great Hanshin Earthquake. The number of those who lost their lives due to causes other than the tsunami was less than 100 however. In order to reduce damage and the number of casualties caused by a tsunami to as close to zero as possible in the next major earthquake, it is crucial to rebuild residential districts that are more compact, in highland areas or on inland farmland. There is, however, a serious concern that the traditional land readjustment rules, which have assumed land right holders’ active participation, will not function well because of the large scale of abandoned land. We probably should consider instead an approach in which town planning corporations funded by local governments and residents will rent large areas of damaged coastal and inland regions for a certain period, rent out inland residential land to those who were affected by an earthquake or tsunami, and have industries use the coastal areas.
Stagnant consumption directly impacted the economy more than the tsunami. Constrained supply due to broken supply chains tends to attract attention, but the extent of domestic price increases has been small. Besides the reduced supply due to the earthquake disaster, the situation has been exacerbated by rolling blackouts and an atmosphere of self-restraint, on top of stagnant domestic demand which has been caused, in part, by the rapid decline since the beginning of this century in the working-age population in the Tokyo metropolitan area as well as rural areas. As government resources are limited, this paper advocates increased business investment and household consumption toward seismic retrofitting of buildings, energy conservation, and energy diversification, and proposes that individuals contribute one percent of their savings to post-earthquake reconstruction projects.
Japan should aim to establish itself internationally as a calamity-proof country. In the remainder of this century, let us make Japan a country much safer than countries with few natural disasters and thus much less prepared. Let us make this country capable of avoiding human casualties in the face of many natural disasters, recovering from them with back-up infrastructure, and preventing a national paralysis, with core functions of the country distributed widely from Sapporo to Fukuoka.