Shortages in Japan three years after tsunami


Visitors offer prayers early today in front of the main entrance of Okawa Elementary School where 74 of the 108 students went missing after the March 11, 2011, tsunami in Ishinomaki, northern Japan.

Japan marked the third anniversary today of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed 15,884 people and left more than 2,600 unaccounted for in vast areas of its northern coast.

Tens of thousands of people on Japan’s northeastern coast who were left homeless in the March 2011 tsunami are shivering their way through yet another winter in cramped temporary housing, with perhaps several more to go.

Reconstruction plans are taking shape after three years of debate and red tape, but shortages of skilled workers and materials are delaying the work. In areas such as Tanohata, a fishing town of 3,800 along a scenic stretch of craggy cliffs and forests, less than a tenth of the new housing has been built. Overall, the figure is less than 8 percent completed, and less than a quarter of projects started.

As Japan’s over-stretched construction industry begins gearing up to build venues and revamp aging infrastructure for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, shortages of skilled carpenters and heavy equipment operators as well as cement and other materials, are frustrating residents and local officials.

— The Associated Press

Shizuo Kambayashi / The Associated Press Visitors offer prayers early Tuesday in front of the main entrance of Okawa Elementary School where 74 of the 108 students went missing after the March 11, 2011, tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan.