Here are some notes from the town we've been following since what is being called the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.
A recent law passed by the embattled government of Prime Minister Kan allows the government to lease commercial space for free to hard hit businesses trying to recover. The caveat is that each municipality is supposed to find the vacant parcels eligible, and many of them do not have the wherewithal for the search. In Rikuzen, applicants were told that the government would lease for free, but the business owners would have to find the lots, since they were having enough problems finding unowned land on which to build the hundreds of temp houses needed. They added an additional caveat of each lot must be shared by two businesses. As of last month, 21 applicants had found lots, while others were growing frustrated, wondering how to do a search job the government was incapable of.
That same government just defeated another no confidence vote three weeks ago. Discontent over the lack of action and Kan's unfulfilled promises is growing.
Black tailed gulls have begun to make their nests in the still-piled debris, afraid of their old seaside nesting areas. Many residents are looking at this as a sign of encouragement- the birds keep on going, so must we.
Rikuzen is on of six towns in the area unable to provide school lunches. 27 more out of 69 in the area are only providing bread and milk, and malnutrition is becoming a growing concern.
In nearby and hard hit Sendai, the Tohoku Rakuten major league baseball team, which delayed its opener by two weeks due to stadium damage, will bring a ray of hope to their city with one of the JPB's three all-star games coming to Sendai on July 24th.
Design exec Kazuyoshi Kurosawa and former resident based in Germany Koshi Tagaki are volunteering time to comfort the survivors of the disaster by doing oil paintings of lost family members from photographs given them by the victim's relatives. The portraits seem to be taking a little of the sting of the loss from some of the mourners.
Finally, 100 graft sprigs were taken from the roots of that lone surviving tree in the nearby forest and grafted to rootstocks by the Forest Service's Tohoku Regional Breeding Office in Takizawamura, some 60 mi. NW. Four of these sprigs are now thriving, and once they are stronger and the area is safe, all but one of them will be returned to their original home to begin the rebuilding of the forest. The time of season was against all but the four hardy survivors, but due to the danger from erosion and salt water their progenitor was in, the botanists felt they had to move fast before the lone tree died and its dna was lost forever.