Roadblocks Along the Road to Recovery in Japan

Christopher Hawthorne reports from Japan on the many obstacles preventing areas destroyed by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami from proceeding with rebuilding, as the recovery effort stalls in the cleanup stage.

Although northeastern Japan has made enormous strides in removing the astonishing amount of debris caused by last year's disaster, Hawthorne outlines the leadership and political roadblocks that have prevented communities from starting in earnest on substantial construction efforts, as some of the largest questions regarding rebuilding go unanswered.

According to Hawthorne, "Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, his approval rating in danger of sinking below 30%, has faced wide criticism for failing to articulate a broad vision for rebuilding. The national Reconstruction Agency wasn't officially launched until February, 11 months after the disaster...The most intractable issue is whether the hardest hit fishing villages, already losing population before the disaster, should be rebuilt as they were or consolidated." Larger socio-economic fault lines have also been exposed by the earthquake, and these issues must be discussed as they are likely to guide rebuilding plans.

The lack of progress on rebuilding is not for lack of trying by the country's architects and planners who have worked diligently with local communities to develop plans for reconstruction.

While a larger vision for recovery goes unarticulated, local communities have also struggled to develop consensus on how to rebuild their towns. "Sharp disagreement" amongst local residents and politicians "over reconstruction goals has repeated itself in the smaller towns along the Oshika Peninsula," according to Hawthorne. And "the lack of consensus on basic issues calls into question precisely how" $3.75 billion in rebuilding grants recently approved by the central government will be spent.

Full Story: Japan Disaster: A Year Later: Without a blueprint


Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

The Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is the only comprehensive ranking and listing of graduate urban planning programs available.
Starting at $24.95
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95

NEW! Get the "Green Bible"

Understand the complexities of planning at the local level while preparing for the AICP* exam. Find out why this edition is included in the APA's recommended reading list.