Rikuzentakata, like many towns on Japan’s rugged north-east Pacific coast, was in decline even before last year’s tsunami killed 1 700 of its 24 000 inhabitants and destroyed most of its downtown buildings.
With two-thirds of the remaining residents homeless, mayor Futoshi Toba questioned whether the town could recover. Damage to infrastructure and the local economy, he said, would force people to move away to find jobs.
Sixteen months later, the town is trying to rebuild in a way that Toba says will reinvent the region and provide a model to overcome obstacles that have hobbled the Japanese economy for more than 20 years: the fastest-ageing population in the developed world, loss of manufacturing competitiveness to China and South Korea and reliance on imported fossil fuels.
Read the rest of the story: Japan’s tsunami towns go green to create jobs, bypass nuclear .