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Rebuilding schedules for fishing ports, coastal districts set in disaster recovery plan

A fishing boat sets out from a port lined with cranes and other machinery being used to remove rubble. (Photo courtesy of the Miyagi Prefectural Fisheries Union's Yuriage Branch)

A fishing boat sets out from a port lined with cranes and other machinery being used to remove rubble. (Photo courtesy of the Miyagi Prefectural Fisheries Union’s Yuriage Branch)

Eight fishing ports devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami will be fully rebuilt by the end of fiscal 2015 under a revised government disaster reconstruction schedule set for release on Nov. 29.

The plan, put together by the government’s Great East Japan Earthquake reconstruction headquarters led by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, also sets near complete restoration of 416 coastal districts in five years.

The revisions to the reconstruction plan, first set on Aug. 26, came after taking into account current progress and the disaster recovery funds earmarked in the third fiscal 2011 supplementary budget. The revisions also set work schedules for 43 municipalities in six prefectures that saw significant damage in the March 11 disasters.

The plan labels the eight ports — Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture, Kamaishi and Ofunato in Iwate Prefecture, Onagawa, Ishinomaki, Kesennuma and Shiogama in Miyagi Prefecture, and Choshi in Chiba Prefecture — “national fishing bases,” and also sets a mid-term goal of restoring basic functionality by the end of fiscal 2013. It also includes provisions to restart 12 of 16 sewage treatment plants in Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate prefectures that are currently out of operation.

Dumped fishing nets and other rubbish lie waiting to be cleared at Otsuchi Fishing Port in the town of Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture. The port is still not able to land fish. (Mainichi)

Dumped fishing nets and other rubbish lie waiting to be cleared at Otsuchi Fishing Port in the town of Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture. The port is still not able to land fish. (Mainichi)

On rebuilding along the tsunami-ravaged seaboard from Aomori Prefecture in the north to Chiba Prefecture in the south, the revised plan states that emergency help for the many businesses and families within 50 kilometers of the Pacific coast wound down at the end of September. Instead, with basic construction preparations now complete, the government is shifting to a full-blown rebuilding effort projected to reach all disaster-affected districts in five years. The plan also calls for reclamation of some 3,660 hectares of land inundated by the tsunami in five years, and tree planting on the land in 10 years.

The revised rebuilding schedule furthermore added plans for public housing for disaster victims having trouble rebuilding their homes, and the mass relocation of tsunami-damaged neighborhoods to safer ground. However, it did not set out concrete timeframes for these projects as they are primarily municipal responsibilities.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20111129p2a00m0na013000c.html

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Temporary eateries open in disaster-hit Kesennuma, AWJ, 11/14/11

KESENNUMA, Miyagi Prefecture–Under the motto “starting from a prefab,” operators and city officials have created a village of temporary restaurants in this tsunami-devastated city.

“Fukko Yataimura” (Stall village for reconstruction), a project to build makeshift restaurants, was planned largely by local store operators whose businesses were destroyed by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

“We will make a comeback by all means so that we can respond to the support extended by many people,” said Tsukiko Otomo, 59, who runs a ramen shop in the area.

The city borrowed a plot of private land for the project. The Organization for Small and Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation erected the structures. And Fukko Yataimura, the operator of a restaurant reconstruction project, prepared refrigerators, cooking ranges and other appliances.

Nineteen eateries opened on Nov. 12. Full-fledged operations at 22 are expected on Nov. 26 in the restaurant village.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/life_and_death/AJ2011111317318

PHOTO: Temporary eateries open in disaster-hit Kesennuma, Asahi Japan Watch, 11/13/11

KESENNUMA, Miyagi Prefecture–Under the motto “starting from a prefab,” operators and city officials have created a village of temporary restaurants in this tsunami-devastated city.

“Fukko Yataimura” (Stall village for reconstruction), a project to build makeshift restaurants, was planned largely by local store operators whose businesses were destroyed by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

“We will make a comeback by all means so that we can respond to the support extended by many people,” said Tsukiko Otomo, 59, who runs a ramen shop in the area.

The city borrowed a plot of private land for the project. The Organization for Small and Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation erected the structures. And Fukko Yataimura, the operator of a restaurant reconstruction project, prepared refrigerators, cooking ranges and other appliances.

Nineteen eateries opened on Nov. 12. Full-fledged operations at 22 are expected on Nov. 26 in the restaurant village.

Farmland conversion up after disaster, yomiuri, 11/7/11

The number of successful applications to convert agricultural land to some other use in coastal areas of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures jumped about 2.5-fold from April through October this year from the corresponding period in 2010, according to government sources.

This has given rise to concern among local governments and experts that residents may rebuild their houses without reference to any overall plan, thus hindering the efficient reconstruction of infrastructure for water supply and other essential services.

The number of applications has been rising apparently because residents who lost homes due to the March 11 quake and tsunami plan to build new houses on farmland that is on higher ground.

The central government has encouraged local governments to speed up the processing of such applications. Most have been approved, which may lead to the random building of new houses.

Under the current system, the central or relevant prefectural government must grant permission for agricultural land to be converted to some other purpose, such as residential or industrial use.

Local agricultural committees first examine the applications, and the central or prefectural governments decide whether to approve them. The system is designed to preserve high-quality farming land, which is the foundation of the national food supply, by setting restrictions on conversion.

It usually takes about three months for a landowner to obtain permission after an application is filed. However, if the land is highly productive farmland, it usually takes about six months because its designation under a law to promote farming in certain areas must be dissolved.

In coastal regions of the two prefectures, residential areas were concentrated on narrow plains. Many such areas were severely damaged by the tsunami following the March 11 quake.

In Miyagi Prefecture, many residential areas were designated as places where construction of new houses and other buildings was temporarily prohibited, to prevent random construction from obstructing future urban planning.

The Miyagi prefectural government said 15 cities and towns in its coastal areas gave permission in 518 cases for the conversion of agricultural land to residential use between April and October. The figure is about 2.5 times higher than that in the corresponding period last year.

The rise in Kesennuma in the prefecture has been remarkable: The number of authorizations jumped 6.5-fold to 257.

In 12 municipalities on the coast of Iwate Prefecture, the total number of authorizations has more than doubled from last year’s corresponding period to 358.

The prefectural government said almost all the applications were approved, if the farmland in question was not damaged by the tsunami.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry instructed local governments a week after the disaster to speed up procedures to convert the usage of highly productive land, to promote reconstruction.

Government officials believe the measure has encouraged people to file applications.

The home of Tadao Kanno, 67, in Kesennuma’s Karakuwacho district was destroyed by the tsunami. In July, he decided to build a new house on a farming plot behind the site of his former home and three to four meters higher upland.

His application to convert the land to residential land was approved.

Kanno underwent surgery last year, and now lives in a temporary housing unit with his wife near the site of his destroyed home.

“I can’t abandon the land, which I inherited from my ancestors. I want to rebuild my house as soon as possible,” he said.

However, local governments in the area apparently did not expect so many people would convert their farmland to residential land before a comprehensive reconstruction plan had been completed.

An official of the Miyagi prefectural government’s post-disaster reconstruction section said, “If construction of houses progresses here and there in an unordered manner, it may become difficult for us to act in accordance with our reconstruction plans for the use of land.”

(Nov. 7, 2011)

Gov’t to waive visa fees for tourists to disaster-hit prefectures, mainichi, 11/7/11

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Foreign Ministry said Monday it will waive visa fees for foreign tourists visiting Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima, for five years from Nov. 15, as part of efforts to support tourism in the prefectures ravaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The ministry will exempt tourists from paying the fees — about 3,000 yen for a single-use visa and 6,000 yen for a multiple-use visa — if they present documents to verify their visit to the three prefectures, such as itineraries and flight tickets.

Tourists to Japan who are required to obtain visas come mainly from China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

(Mainichi Japan) November 7, 2011

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