A summary of editorials from leading Japanese newspapers (March 19, 2015)
post date : 2015.03.19
A summary of editorials from leading Japanese newspapers, posted biweekly.
Japan has observed the fourth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which left more than 18,000 people dead or missing.
On March 11, the five national dailies published their editorials about the anniversary, addressing such issues as challenges in rebuilding communities and in caring for the elderly, who tend to be isolated. All but The Yomiuri Shimbun discussed—briefly or extensively—the on-going nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) and The Yomiuri wrote about a new town created in Iwanuma, a city in Miyagi Prefecture located south of Sendai Airport. On a 20-hectare plot of land, new houses have been built for 1,000 people who lived in six communities in a coastal area that was battered by gigantic tsunami.
The Nikkei said efforts to rebuild communities in the three disaster-struck prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima have started in earnest, but Iwanuma represented just one of the small number of municipalities that have already rebuilt communities or are scheduled to complete their work sometime in the near future.
“Only 20 percent of projects to build up residential areas—where groups of disaster victims will move into—will have been completed by the end of March,” The Nikkei said. “Only slightly above 30 percent of scheduled projects to build public housing [for disaster victims] have been completed. About 230,000 people are still living in temporary housing units.”
The Yomiuri also addressed the thorny task of reconstruction, while citing the Iwanuma project as a successful example.
“In areas along the Sanriku coast, where there are few plots of flatland, similar projects are expected to take more than three years,” The Yomiuri said. “In these areas, large-scale work such as cutting through hills is often needed. Soaring prices of construction materials have also hindered progress in the construction work.”
The Yomiuri, along with The Mainichi Shimbun, also addressed the issue of preventing elderly people from being isolated, particularly once they move out of their temporary housing units.
The Mainichi said “measures such as monitoring of single elderly people and maintaining local community organizations must be taken to prevent isolation of individuals.”
“Full recovery is an uphill battle, But if we continue to take an interest in the disaster areas and offer as much support as possible like many of us did when we volunteered our services soon after the disasters, we can contribute toward the region’s self-reliance,” The Mainichi said.
The Sankei Shimbun, meanwhile, discussed efforts by people in the disaster-struck areas to convey their lessons on self-preservation they have learned from the disaster. “If a tremor strikes, flee to an elevated place… This [lesson] should be heeded by people in all coastal areas of this earthquake-prone nation to protect their own lives at a time when Tokai, Tonankai and Nankai earthquakes are forecast to hit,” The Sankei said.
“It is a matter of course for the central and local governments to do their utmost to reconstruct the areas and to boost their disaster preparedness,” The Sankei said. “Each and every Japanese person needs to always think about what they can do. We cannot possibly let the memories of the earthquake fade away.”
Ongoing nuclear crisis
The Asahi Shimbun extensively discussed the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, saying “there are yet no prospects of the nuclear disaster being brought fully under control.”
Many of the evacuees are reluctant to go home, The Asahi said, citing a Reconstruction Agency survey. “Reconstruction projects ought to be flexible if they are to truly serve the best interests of the people. Is it not possible to create a system that enables them to rebuild their new lives away from their hometown but still keep their old hometown ties?,” The Asahi said.
The Asahi then urged the central and local governments to stay “closely attuned to the needs of the people and act with flexibility” as Fukushima is still saddled with a myriad of challenges.
The Nikkei and The Mainichi also discussed the nuclear crisis.
The Nikkei urged the central and local governments to expedite decontamination work—firstly on residential areas and then farmlands and elsewhere. “It is necessary to have a future plan for the local industry so that returning residents can have dreams for their future,” the economic daily said.
The Mainichi, on the other hand, said: “The suffering of Fukushima Prefecture… was created by a twisted arrangement in which a regional community hosted a nuclear plant generating power for a major metropolis. This means that the responsibility of rebuilding the lives of those who were most affected must be shared by the Japanese public.”
*English translations of The Yomiuri, The Asahi, and The Mainichi are from The Japan News, The Asia & Japan Watch and The Mainichi, respectively. Those for The Sankei and The Nikkei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center/Japan and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.