Japanese Journal of Human Geography
Online ISSN : 1883-4086
Print ISSN : 0018-7216
ISSN-L : 0018-7216
Research Note
Self-reconstruction and the Development of Residential Suburbs after the Great East Japan Earthquake: The Case of Higashi-Shinjo Area, Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan
Taiyo Yagasaki
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2021 Volume 73 Issue 4 Pages 467-484


The Great East Japan Earthquake caused a huge tsunami that devastated the Sanriku coastal area by inundating fields, destroying houses and buildings, and depriving the local residents of everyday life. Local municipalities formulated and implemented regional reconstruction plans and the local residents engaged in the self-reconstruction. Consequently, the traditional landscape was transformed, social organizations that maintained local communities were reorganized, and tsunami risks were reduced. The resettlement of residents who moved out of the devastated coastal community caused new concentrations of population in the inland that escaped disaster. This paper examines the formation process of residential suburbs, the resettlement of residents from the coastal area, and the decision making of self-reconstruction. A case study was conducted in the Higashi-Shinjo district, Kesennuma City, after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The resettlement of tsunami victims caused the movement of people out of the devastated lowlands to the high ground by way of group relocation programs and the public housing facilities. At the same time, new concentrations of population were spontaneously formed by self-reconstruction in the inland suburbs. Many sufferers resettled in the Higashi–Shinjo district, where vacant housing lots were available after the land readjustment program, which was conducted in the 1990s due to economic decline. The land use and landscape of the Higashi-Shinjo district were substantially modified due to the resettlement. The decision to resettle and the choice of destination were affected by a combination of factors that include aging of the residents, a need to promptly resettle, land ownership prior to resettlement, and human relations.

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