Controversy surrounds one 360-ton fishing boat that looks particularly out of place in the northeastern coastal city of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, where it has lay anchored on dry ground since the tsunami swept it inland nearly two years ago.
While much of the debris left by the devastating earthquake and tsunami has since been cleared, the 60-meter (200-ft) tuna-fishing boat was left standing as a symbol of resilience for some while an unwelcome reminder for others.
The Kyotokumaru was swept by the tsunami from the city’s dock for about 750 meters and came to rest in a residential district of Kesennuma.
After a heated debate, the hard-hit city has decided to tear down the ship, which now seems entirely from another lifetime, as residents try to escape from memories of that harrowing day in March 2011.
Of the 14,083 responses from 70,000 residents asked whether they would like to see the boat remain, 68%, or 9,622 people, voted to scrap it. Only 16% voted to preserve it.
“Our city has decided to demolish the vessel since nearly 70% of residents did not want to preserve it,” a local official was quoted by AFP as saying.
“It’s just a constant reminder of the terrible disaster,” Yoshimi Abe, a 72-year-old housewife, told the Associated Press. “When I walk by it every morning, my heart aches.”
Some residents said the marooned boat has drawn business. People from other towns come to see the rusting vessel and leave bouquets of flowers and offer prayers.
Kesennuma Mayor Shigeru Sugawara expressed disappointment that the boat, a “visible symbol of what happened”, would be destroyed.
The Fukushima fishing company, which owns the Kyotokumaru, said it has signed a contract with a nonprofit organization that recycles ships. The ship may be dismantled in a few weeks.
by Maesie Bertumen