CJR Lunchtime Lecture Series: How Do People Reconstruct Former Disaster Areas?

Lunchtime Lecture Series featuring Professor Nakano Kiwa (Daito Bunka University; visiting scholar, Department of Anthropology)

How Do People Reconstruct Former Disaster Areas?

-The Case of Genkai Island : Fukuoka Prefecture Western Offshore Earthquake-


After the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, rebuilding the devastated area became a major challenge. Many areas in Japan have suffered natural disasters, but there are few studies that have recorded and analyzed the social and cultural background of the process of reconstruction over time. It is generally believed that the goal of reconstruction is rebuilding facilities, but I believe that we should continue to observe reconstruction over a long period of time, even after facilities have been rebuilt.

For residents, their new lives start after rebuilding facilities, and they may face various problems at that time, I believe that these problems are not limited to one particular area, but are shared by all disaster areas. Therefore, we must first recognize those problems as well as the cultural and social background of the disaster areas, and then record them. Therefore, I have chosen to research former disaster areas from this perspective.

I would like to focus on Genkai Island in Fukuoka Prefecture. This island is a community that was affected by the Fukuoka Prefecture Western Offshore Earthquake on March 20, 2005, but it was reconstructed in just three years. Its path to recovery is viewed as a model of reconstruction for Tōhoku communities.

How did the residents on this island handle their situation, and how did they try to reconstruct and rebuild their lives? Looking at the island over time, what kinds of things did the residents prioritize during reconstruction, and what kinds of new problems occurred after they started their new lives?  I would like to consider their path to recovery in detail over time.