Japanese city votes to destroy ship stranded in tsunami

Citizens of the Japanese city of Kesennuma have elected to dismantle a 360-ton fishing boat which was marooned in the town’s centre during the devastating tsunami which hit Japan in 2011.

The tuna-fishing boat, named Kyotokumaru, which has an approximate weight of 360 tons and is over 60 metres in length, was swept 750 metres into a residential suburb of Kesennuma when the tsunami hit Japan two years ago, triggered by a powerful earthquake measuring 9.0 on the richter scale. Over 18,000 people were left dead or missing as a result of the earthquake, which also triggered a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Since its arrival in the city, Kyotokumaru has divided opinion amongst those who live in the area. Whilst some were keen to preserve the ship as a testimony to the survival of the city and its residents, others called for it to be dismantled. For many, Kyotokumaru is more than a shipwreck; it is a perpetual and painful reminder of the tragedy which devastated so many. Yoshimi Abe, a resident of Kesennuma, said of the ship: “It’s just a constant reminder of the terrible disaster. When I walk by it every morning, my heart aches.”

And indeed, Ms. Abe is not alone in her opinion. Local officials revealed to news sources that over 70% of Kesennuma residents did not wish for Kyotokumaru to be preserved. After two years of continuous and heated debate, the citizens of Kesennuma were given the opportunity to vote on the divisive issue. Of the 14,083 responses, 68% (9,622 people) were in favour of having the ship destroyed. Just a mere 16% voted to preserve it.

Local news sources suggest that the dismantling procedure will begin in the next few weeks, and will be undertaken by a non-profit ship recycler in the Fukushima prefecture. It is not known how long the process will take to complete.

Sources include BBC and The Guardian

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