November 17, 2011 Kesenuma
In the aftermath of Japan’s triple disasters in March, communities throughout the disaster-struck Tohoku region have begun considering alternative ways to rebuild their lives, infrastructure and society.
Shigeatsu Hatakeyama-san, founder of the non-profit organization “Kaki no Mori wo Shitau Kai” (Rebuilding from Land to Sea), is well known in Japan for his efforts to explain the intricate links between the ocean and mountains. Hatakeyama-san came into the local spotlight when he unveiled that enriching the rain water in mountain forest areas with iron was essential for the growth of fishery products. He gained more attention this year, when his entire aquaculture oyster farm in Kesenuma fell prey to the tsunami.
From Mountains to Sea, a recent documentary produced by the UNU-Media Centre highlights the interdependency of forestry worker, farmers and fishermen along the rivers upstream of Kesenuma. It explores how joint efforts are helping to rebuild the tsunami-ravaged Kesenuma community.
In his role as a community leader, Hatakeyama questions whether a technologically-driven approach to rebuilding Tohoku is really the most sustainable option. He advocates the need for a sustainable recovery process that embraces and establishes harmony with the natural environment. To regain strength and vitality, communities needs to take advantage of local products and capitalize on the unique opportunity to shape a more ‘ecologically-balanced’ post tsunami era.