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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Too busy rebuilding

November 13, 2017


Tohoku areas snub Olympic program, focus on rebuilding





The vast majority of municipalities in the Tohoku region are snubbing a government exchange program related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saying they are simply too busy rebuilding from the 2011 disaster.


The central government wants to use “Tohoku reconstruction” as a theme for the Games and a way to promote the revival of devastated areas. But scorn is now being heaped on this idea.

In the run-up to the Summer Olympics, the government is pushing the Reconstruction “Arigato” Host Town international exchange program involving municipalities in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the three prefectures hardest hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.


Under the program, disaster-hit municipalities will invite athletes, rescue workers and people who contributed relief goods to the victims to check on the rebuilding progress, allowing local residents to interact with people from across the globe.


Only 11 cities and villages of all 127 municipalities in the three prefectures applied for the program between Sept. 15 and Oct. 31.


“The most important phase of reconstruction is now getting under way,” said an official of a city in Iwate Prefecture that did not apply. “We are suffering from a worker shortage and can’t afford to think of the Tokyo Olympics.”


In fact, there was such little initial interest in the exchange program that officials of the Cabinet Secretariat had to urge cities, towns and villages to participate.


A central government source said that combining the Tohoku rebuilding efforts with the Olympics is nonsensical.


“Disaster recovery and the Olympics are basically two different things,” the source said.

The central government decided to extend the period of accepting applications because the results so far have been embarrassing.

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