The tsunami is surviving in Japan after a decade

AP Photos: The tsunami is surviving in Japan after a decade

By Foster KLUG

March 8, 2021 GMT

Tokyo (AP) – Images still have the power to shock.

The stunned survivors were trapped between the wreckage and the twisted iron of the giant marine tanker, which was once a busy downtown, with ships approaching them like children’s toys. Survivors of the tragedy go through the flattened debris that used to be their homes. Desert farms stand in the shade of the Fukushima nuclear plant, where the catastrophic meltdown has yet to return.

The arrests were made in 2011 by the Associated Press after a huge wall of water, cars, houses, office buildings and thousands of people were washed away off Japan’s northeast coast.

Ten years later, AP reporters have returned to document the communities that were here, commonly known as the Greater Japan Earthquake. Volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, earthquakes, wars and droughts – the call to rebuild in such lands is powerful, and there are areas where the 2011 catastrophes are little or no trace.

But in the Tohoku region of Japan, this triple disaster – earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown – has been the opposite of what Japan had faced before, and there are many challenges to return to what was normal a decade ago. Half a million were forced out of their homes; Thousands upon thousands of people have not returned, evacuating towns that were already struggling to keep their youth from going to Tokyo and other megacities. There is a risk of delay from radiation. Government incompetence, petty disputes and bureaucratic strife have delayed building efforts.

Despite the shocks and uneven progress, the 2021 Tohoku is a testament to the collective power of national, local and individual will. However take a closer look, and you will see that even the most amazing transformation has the remnants of what happened in 2011, which are the scars of this wound to the mind of this region.

These AP images, then and now, raise a fundamental question: How will you mark the change after the great shock?

In a way, it’s the easiest thing in the world to describe. Remove the number of debris here, the absence of tankers scattered there. Previously paved roads where cracks had appeared and asphalt iles had erupted. Glaming grows on new buildings that were now cleared of patches of dirt.

But the scarcity of this physical change also makes one think of something that is a much less obvious cut about the people who live in these places. Their resilience, their tyranny, their grief and anger and stubbornness refuse to bow to forces beyond their control, whether natural or bureaucratic.

All of that, and more, is present in these powerful scenes before and after, after and now.

The pictures tell the story – the great change and what happened to those people.