Wednesday 16 December 2015
After a disaster: return or move away?
After the Great Fire of London in 1666, there were plans to sweep away London's courts and alleys and replace them with something grander and neater, but many of them survived (and still do). A lot of Londoners wanted to rebuild the city much as it had been before the fire.
After the Tokyo earthquake of 1923, it was a similar story. Grand designs floundered because locals wanted to live in the same kind of homes in the same places as they had before. And when the Ugandan government tried to get people to settle away from an area devastated by floods in 1978, they too ran into opposition.
Now history seems to be re-repeating itself in Japan. After an earthquake and tsunami caused meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power station in 2011, some argued that the 80,000 people evacuated should be persuaded not to return, but to go and live somewhere else.
And some have, but older people in particular seem to be keen to go back to the places they still think of as home. The town of Naraha is the first to be declared safe by the government.