Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

【#225】Objection to Seawalls Destroying Beautiful Japan

Yumiko Nishimoto / 2013.12.11 (Wed)

December 9, 2013

      As one of residents in northeastern Japan, I feel discomfort with a plan to construct huge seawalls on the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan devastated by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Seawalls, though possibly providing local residents with some security, will destroy coastal landscapes and deprive us of superb views of the ocean as mental assets.

Concrete walls failing to resist huge tsunami waves
      The plan calls for covering the pacific coast of the Tohoku region with concrete walls that would be up to 15 meters high. But these seawalls are designed to resist rather frequent tsunami waves that hit Japan every several decades or less than 200 years. The government understands that it is unrealistic to build seawalls to counter infrequent huge tsunami waves like those that came upon the Great East Japan Earthquake and are projected to emerge every 1,000 years.
      Once seawalls are built, residents close to them may feel overconfident of their safety. We easily remember that tsunami waves upon the Great East Japan Earthquake destroyed huge seawalls called the Great Wall in Taro, Iwate Prefecture, and left 229 people dead or missing. Residents feeling secure or safe with the seawalls might have become careless.
      Being ready to face disasters and telling children of past disasters may be more important than building seawalls to provide residents with nominal safety or security.
      People affected by tsunami waves upon the Great East Japan Earthquake may be very fearful of future tsunami. Naturally, they hope to be confident of safety and security. But it is impossible for us to completely counter all threats of nature. Seawalls cannot guarantee the secure protection of human lives and property.

Assets to be left to next generations
      All disaster-affected people do not necessarily hope to see seawalls built. Local residents may not be willing to see beautiful landscapes destroyed. Seawalls should be built at locations where they are really necessary, under agreement among relevant residents.
      I live in Fukushima Prefecture's Hirono town that was designated a zone for preparation for emergency evacuation due to the tsunami-triggered accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. The morning scenery including the orange sun rising from the Pacific Ocean cleans my heart and leads me to join my hands in prayer. One of my acquaintances affected by tsunami says she had once wanted to see seawalls built, but now feels pleased to see the morning sun every day.
      We have coexisted with nature. Beautiful views of the ocean are important assets to be left to future generations. I would like to have the beautiful Japan maintained forever.

Yumiko Nishimoto is Representative Director of Happy Road Net, a non-profit organization.