Miyagi facility on lessons from March 2011 disaster opens

Jiji Press
A visitor listens to recorded testimonies at the Minamisanriku 311 Memorial in Miyagi Prefecture on Saturday.

MINAMI-SANRIKU, Miyagi (Jiji Press) — A facility aimed at passing on the lessons from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami opened in the town of Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, on Saturday.

The facility, Minamisanriku 311 Memorial, offers programs helping visitors learn about the damage at the time of the disaster, which mainly hit Miyagi and nearby prefectures. The programs were created based on testimonies from about 90 people, including local residents, who experienced the catastrophe.

“We want people visiting the facility to think about disaster mitigation as their own issue,” an official of the municipal government of the coastal town said.

Minami-Sanriku was devastated by huge tsunami from the March 11, 2011, earthquake, with a total of 831 people confirmed dead or left unaccounted for. The tsunami inundated the town to a height of 10-24 meters.

On display at Minamisanriku 311 Memorial are photos showing disaster damage and memos written by the mayor of the town at the time, among other things. At the learning theater, videos with the titles “An Evacuation That Became a Matter of Life or Death” and “When the Time Comes, Will You Be Able to Protect Your Life?” are shown. The videos include testimonies from residents.

Earlier on Saturday, a ceremony to mark the opening was held in the town.

“Humans cannot transcend the power of nature,” Minami-Sanriku Mayor Jin Sato said at the ceremony, which was hosted by the town government.

“I want people to think about how precious life is and the joy of living by visiting the town, and pass on what they learned to the next generation,” he said.

“I was reminded of the importance of talking about disaster prevention with family members and neighbors as it is said that a powerful earthquake is expected to strike directly beneath the Tokyo metropolitan area,” said Takashi Suzuki, a 66-year-old visitor from the city of Kokubunji, Tokyo.