A closer look at the recovery of Japan's northeast
After the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami hit Japan's northeastern Tohoku region, The Nikkei began monitoring recovery efforts in specific places. Today, huge sea walls guard towns that were swallowed in the waves. Dwellings, shops and factories have been built, giving devastated communities a semblance of normal life. Yet the scars of the catastrophe are all too apparent. The cleanup process -- including the disposal of contaminated waste from the meltdown-hit Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant -- continues.
Photos and data reveal the progress that has been made over the last five years, as well as the challenges that remain.
Protection from the waves
14.7-meter sea wall
Construction of coastal defenses is underway to protect towns from tsunamis -- even massive ones that come along once in about 100 years. One of the tallest new barriers is in the Onappe district of Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. It measures 14.7 meters. The city's Taro district had been guarded by a 10-meter wall stretching 2.4km, but the killer tsunami flowed over it on March 11.
Then and now
In the past five years, the landscapes of disaster-hit areas have changed a great deal. The Nikkei has kept track of the progress in several municipalities that sustained catastrophic damage: Rikuzentakata, in Iwate Prefecture; Kesennuma, in Miyagi Prefecture; and Shinchi, a town in Fukushima Prefecture.
The prefecture is still grappling with the effects of the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Contaminated trees and plants have been uprooted and radioactive waste has accumulated. There are about 1,120 sites for such waste in Fukushima alone.
We used a drone to capture a 360-degree view of waste piles in the town of Tomioka.
Some 70,000 to 80,000 bags of radioactive waste sit under snow, awaiting transport to interim storage facilities.