SURVIVING THE 2011 TSUNAMI （100 Testimonies of Ishinomaki Area Survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake 【英語版】津波からの生還）
Editorial Office of The Ishinomaki Kahoku
A Daily Newspaper of Sanriku Kahoku Shimpo
ISBN 9784845113514 C0036
Surviving the 2011 Tsunami is a full translation of the Japanese original edition under the same title―published in 2012―compiled by the editorial office of The Ishinomaki Kahoku. What was it that determined the fate of those who found themselves at the mercy of the massive tsunami that closed in on them on March 11, 2011? With the addition of powerful photographs from the regional newspaper’s March 11 archives, the book draws upon the testimonies of 100 survivors to uncover truths about the tsunami and human capacities for dealing with it.
This book contains the interview series that was run under the title “My March 11” in The Ishinomaki Kahoku, a daily newspaper published by Sanriku Kahoku Shimpo serving the Greater Ishinomaki Region―Ishinomaki City, Higashi-Matsushima City, and Onagawa Town. The entire serial, run in 100 installments for nine months starting three months after the disaster in June 2011, has been translated into English practically in its original form.
The tsunami inundated the first floor of the corporate headquarters building of Sanriku Kahoku Shimpo with the resultant failure of the editorial and production systems. However, we resumed the publication of our newspaper, two pages back to back, three days later. The staff members were all safe, but everybody had suffered from the disaster in varying ways including the loss of homes, and a few had lost their loved ones. Forty or so residents of the neighborhood were taking shelter in our building for a while after the disaster because of the fear of the tsunami.
While we continued to cover the towns that had turned into what seemed like battlefields because of the tsunami and the fire afterwards, we asked ourselves these questions: what should we do as a regional media that is based in the most severely damaged area and what is it that we can do as a company that is the most intimately connected to the distressed area. “My March 11” was the answer.
To carry the firsthand testimonies of the people who were attacked by the massive tsunami in as much detail as space would allow, focusing on the people who had narrowly survived the disaster at various places on that day, and aim to record the massive tsunami in its true forms; and to enable the people in our area to share the valuable experiences of those who had survived―this, we thought, would be a strong protection against future major tsunamis. Quite a few people had not recovered from the trauma of the disaster, and our requests for interview were often refused with the reply, “I don’t want to remember it.” What drove our reporters to keep on moving forward whenever they were declined an interview was their conviction that this project would surely be a response to the yearning that the people who had unfortunately fallen victim to the disaster must have had.
The publication of the English translation came about from a chance encounter as well. In the summer of 2012, Dr. Hitomi Nakanishi, assistant professor of the University of Canberra, who happened to visit our head office as part of an inspection tour of the disaster-stricken area, read this book and said, “This is something I would like people in the world to read.” She suggested that the book could be translated by volunteers. I was incredulous about this unexpected proposal, but after returning to Australia, Prof. Nakanishi rallied support for the project on the Internet, to which 26 Japanese residing in various places in Japan and Australia responded, offering to translate the book as volunteers. Furthermore, 16 of Australian friends of Prof. Nakanishi kindly participated in the checking of the manuscript as native speakers of English. Within a matter of six months, the English manuscript of all the 100 interviews was delivered to me from Australia. Junposha readily agreed to publish what would be the publisher’s first book in English. The manuscript was given another careful checking by a few translators who are familiar with the region, and the English version of the book finally came to completion as we are about to reach the third-year anniversary of the disaster.
The importance of the bond of the family and of the people of the community was reaffirmed following the great disaster of 2011. The word has even become a motto for the restoration support effort. I believe that the publication of this English edition is in fact a product that was woven by the bond of the people who were united, beyond the borders of a region and of nations, in their earnest desire to help spread the lessons of the disaster around the world.
I would like to convey my gratitude to the many people who supported the translation project. It is my hope that this book will be of help to the foreign readers as they deepen their understanding of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a once-in-a-millennium event, and prepare for potential major earthquakes and tsunamis.
Sanriku Kahoku Shimpo Co.
-Photographic record of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
―from Greater Ishinomaki
06 Tsunami: the lesser of two evils―Fear of fire pushed me to jump into water
08 Churned as if in a washing machine―Evacuating into factory after being
washed away 200 meters
09 24,000-ton freighter with 31 on board washed away
24 Examining patients at evacuation centers―Doctor brothers reassured evacuees
30 Ships knock down electric power poles―The gushing water was like a horizontal
41 My soon-to-be-born baby must wait for help!―Enduring the pain
48 Massive wave fended off by skillful boat maneuvering―Split-second decision
54 Barber shop washed away by second tsunami―Restarting as barber at shelter
55 Drawback of tsunami reveals sea bottom―It reminded me of a scene from the
movie The Ten Commandments
59 Mother disappears in whirlpool―Water roars as it recedes
62 Man swims across waters with floating log―The tsunami was like Niagara Falls
67 Aquaculture farmer hangs from tree branch―Too busy struggling to feel any
75 Tsunami reaches hospital on hill 16 meters above sea
―Hospital staff respond to patients and evacuees
76 Husband and wife carried away into bay
―Her last words: “I want to see my grandkids”
85 Narrow escape: train stopped on high ground
―Caring gestures keep hearts warm overnight
100 Helicopters washed away from SDF Base
―Frustrated rescue staff use dinghies instead
「The Japan Times」（2014年3月25日付）