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Waiting for (another) disaster

September 2, 2015

Over 80 percent of seawalls along tsunami-affected areas not completed: survey



Only 16 percent of seawalls planned for construction at 677 coastal locations in six prefectures heavily affected by the 2011 tsunami have been completed even though more than four years have passed since the disaster, a government study has shown.

The government has set a budget of some 32 trillion yen for disaster recovery projects in the 10 years up to fiscal 2020. Of the 32 trillion yen budget, about 25.5 trillion yen is allocated for projects in the first five years until the end of fiscal 2015, while the remaining 6.5 trillion will be allotted for the following five years. The cost of seawall construction is included in the budget.

Of 3,200 kilometers of coastline along six prefectures affected by the 2011 disaster -- Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures -- seawalls will be built along 986 kilometers of coastline. The height of seawalls varies in different locations, with parts stretching 50 kilometers, or 5 percent of the construction, reaching a height of 10 meters or higher, other sections of 567 kilometers, or 58 percent, will have seawalls measuring between over 5 meters and up to 10 meters and seawalls of less than 5 meters in height will be installed over a 369-kilometer section, or 37 percent of the construction. Of the 50-kilometer parts that will have seawalls at least 10 meters tall, 46 kilometers are located in Iwate Prefecture and the remaining 4 kilometers are in Miyagi Prefecture.

According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, seawalls at only 109 of 677 locations had been completed as of the end of June, while 356 other locations were under construction. Seawall construction at 212 locations had not started. Of those, agreements with local authorities have been reached for 177 locations and concerned parties are negotiating over the use of land, but a consensus has not been reached with locals for the remaining 35 locations.

Details of the seawall projects, such as the height of the walls, have been mapped out based on the assumption of potential tsunami that hit the area once every few decades or 100-plus years. However, many local residents have requested to lower the height of seawalls proposed by the government. Because of this, the walls' height was reduced at 152 locations while the proposed sites of 42 seawall projects were moved elsewhere.

A senior land ministry official told the Mainichi Shimbun that the six prefectural governments said that the remaining seawall construction should begin within this fiscal year and all construction will be completed by fiscal 2018.

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