Fieldwork in Fukushima

05:04 by Cornelius Holtorf

Cornelius Holtorf undertook with his colleague Tomas Nilsson of the Faculty of Economics a week-long field visit to Tokyo and various places in the Prefecture of Fukushima investigating strategies of storytelling and remembering in relation to the threefold 2011 Eastern Japan-disaster, consisting of a major earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami and a large-scale evacuation in response to a nuclear meltdown of several reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi powerplant.

The tsunami reached up to second floor of this school (where all pupils and teachers survived)

Twelve years after the disaster, today the region of Fukushima is occupied with a comprehensive strategy of revitalization and remembering. We visited the main exhibitions and met representatives of Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO), the Fukushima Innovation Coast Promotion Organization (FIPO), the University of Fukushima, and the Fukushima Prefecture Tourism & Local Products Association, among others.

Meeting with the Director of Tourism and some of his staff, Fukushima Prefecture

What struck me most was the general ambition to recover and revitalize what (even who!) was there before the disaster rather than embracing the transformations caused by it, while looking for new strategies of living and flourishing. Remembering the hardship of the community since 2011 but otherwise continuing to believe in modern progress based on technology and innovation seems to be the general idea here at the moment.

An extensive memorial park is currently being built in Futaba, including a huge mound with a chamber to commemorate the ca 4,000 who lost their lives here

The new protective measures built along the entire coastline provide safety for the new beginnings and are said to be able to withstand the height of tsunamis occurring once every 1000 years. Those structures are doubtless the most enduring legacy of the disaster.

The new coastal sea defenses. In the background the nuclear power station Fujushima Daini which could be prevented from meltdown.

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