x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Removing a reminder

Residents of a Japanese city have voted to remove a reminder of the 2011 tsunami. But will that ease their pain?

The aftermath of the March 2011 tsunami, in which nearly 19,000 people died, continues to torment Japan.

The city of Kesennuma has announced it will destroy what had become a potent symbol of the tsunami: a fishing boat that was swept up from the city's dock and carried 750 metres inland to a residential area.

Despite opposition from the mayor, 9,622 of the city's 14,083 residents have voted to have the 330-tonne Kyotokumaru destroyed.

Residents said they do not want a constant reminder of the deaths of their loved ones and the destruction of their homes. Nor do they want their city or their future lives to be defined by that terrible event of two years ago.

But different communities react differently. In Hiroshima, which was hit by an atom bomb at the end of the Second World War, the damaged dome of the former Industrial Promotion Hall remains a landmark and centrepiece of the city's Peace Park.

Will the removal of the Kyotokumaru wash away the sorrow and pain of the citizens of Kesennuma? Only time will tell. Some things are still seen by the heart, even though they are invisible to the eyes.