Okushiri Island

While I was on my project in Rikuzentakata I often wonder if similar plan has been done before. Then a friend of mine Ebinuma traveled to a small island off the coast of Hokkaido and shared his experience things became a bit more clear. I’m sharing this so that the non-Japanese speakers can get better sense of the potential challenges Rikuzentakata will be facing in the years to come.

Okushiri Island, a small island off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan was hit by an equally devastating tsunami which inundated parts of island in 1993. A reconstruction plan that involved mega infrastructure projects was initiated not too long after the disaster with the cost of roughly CAN$1.3bn. The result? population decline and worst burdened the local municipality’s budget since it is local’s responsibility to maintain the facility.

While there are many reasons to explain the declined population at Okushiri, one thing made clear is that infrastructure project often does not lure people back to remote towns, disaster stricken or not. There must be a policy that accompany the construction so that new bloods can be injected into the community and in turn reviving the local economy.