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Japan

A drone's-eye look at tsunami-hit northeastern Japan

Six years on, new photos reveal patchy progress in rebuilding from disaster

TOKYO -- Six years ago, a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan's northeastern coastline. Today, reconstruction is progressing in fits and starts. In some cities, rows of houses have sprung up on raised land and new shopping malls welcome tourists. In others, the streets are almost deserted, despite plans to welcome back displaced residents soon.

To get an idea of just how much progress has been made rebuilding since March 11, 2011 -- and how much work remains to be done -- The Nikkei recently sent a drone and a helicopter to Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. The resulting photos provide a unique view of what remains a complicated situation.

Iwate Prefecture

In Rikuzentakata, a replica of the lone pine tree that survived the tsunami has been built as a new symbol of the city. A massive 12.5-meter-tall seawall stretching some 2km along Hirota Bay has also been erected. (Taken on Feb. 23 by Konosuke Urata)
Top: Rikuzentakata's city center was completely destroyed by the tsunami. (Taken on March 18, 2011, by Yasuaki Sako) Bottom: The area has been raised and rezoned, and a new commercial facility is now under construction. (Taken on Feb. 25, 2017, by Koji Zenke)
Otsuchi's former town hall still stands as it was after being struck by the tsunami. Rezoning is underway in the surrounding areas. (Taken on Feb. 24 by Konosuke Urata)

Miyagi Prefecture

In the Nobiru area of Higashimatsushima, a housing complex has been built on newly cleared mountain land to relocate groups of residents displaced by the tsunami. East Japan Railway has relaid its Senseki Line on a new path, and new houses have been built. (Taken on Feb. 25 by Konosuke Urata)
The skeleton of Minamisanriku's tsunami-ravaged disaster prevention center stands next to a bulwark and earth used for raising land. The town's shopping mall has been relocated across the river, away from its original inland site. (Taken on Feb. 25 by Konosuke Urata)
East Japan Railway's Onagawa Station has been rebuilt and a new shopping mall constructed to help encourage recovery. On weekends, the mall is crowded with tourist. (Taken on Feb. 25 by Konosuke Urata)
Top: The center of Onagawa was struck by the tsunami. (Taken on March 19, 2011, by Yasuaki Sako) Bottom: The port has been restored, and work is underway to raise land and develop areas of higher elevation. (Taken on Feb. 25, 2017, by Koji Zenke)

Fukushima Prefecture

In this no-go zone in Tomioka, large amounts of decontaminated waste lie under sheets on temporary storage grounds. The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings, can be seen in the distance. (Taken on Feb. 26 by Konosuke Urata)
The streets of downtown Namie, where the evacuation order is to be lifted on March 31, are almost deserted. (Taken on Feb. 26 by Konosuke Urata)
The center of Shinchi has been raised. East Japan Railway's Joban Line was moved inland and reopened in December 2016. (Taken on Feb. 23 by Konosuke Urata)

(Nikkei)

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