The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Thursday, 03 July 2014 00:00cat

Japan Considering Building $8.6 Billion Tsunami Walls

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The 2011 Tsunami and Earthquake wiped out many coastal towns in Japan The 2011 Tsunami and Earthquake wiped out many coastal towns in Japan Kerry Dean

The 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan left a devastating path of destruction and claimed the lives of 19,000 people.  Most of the hardest hit areas by the disaster including Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate were completely washed away. The Japanese government would now like to build 230 miles of walls along the coastline in these three prefectures. The project to tsunami-proof these stretches of land will cost $8.6 billion and take nearly 25 years to finance with taxpayer money.  While the government seems determined to build what is being dubbed “The Great Wall of Japan”, many of the 2011 disaster survivors feel that the walls are a waste of money and do not want to see Japan turn into a concrete fortress.

Under the current version of the government’s plan, 440 walls measuring 48 feet tall will be built along the country’s coastline.  Japan is already home to thousands of miles of seawalls in towns across the country. Some, like the 45-foot wall in Fudai village, saved the lives of thousands of people in the last disaster. Others, like the wall in Kamaishi that was the tallest in the world at the time, offered little to no resistance against the devastating tsunami. Some even argue that the wall provided a false sense of security to Kamaishi residents that made them not take the proper safety precautions. Those against the tsunami walls argue that one cannot predict the height of the next tsunami so any wall could be useless, if it is not tall enough.

Japan’s government is completely supportive of the plans to build tsunami-proof walls along the coastline. The country’s construction industry is also on board. Much of the country feels that if money has already been budgeted for the project, they should go ahead and build the walls. Although those against the plan do not have many powerful supporters, they are making their voice heard. They worry about the damage that the concrete could have on the ecosystem and tourism. The Japanese government needs each locality to approve the plan before any construction can begin. 

Sources: The Guardian

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