2011年08月15日 06:08 AM
Protect and revive
英國《金融時報》 王明 報導
Laying out a vision for reconstruction of Japan's tsunami-devastated north-east coast, a government-appointed council of experts made clear the goal should be much more than merely rebuilding the region's shattered towns. “It is our most profound wish,” wrote the panel of worthies from academia, regional government and the private sector in June, “that the reconstruction efforts following the disaster will reverberate around Japan, leading to the revival of the entire country.”
Such hopes are easy to understand. The destruction wreaked on communities along hundreds of kilometres of the Pacific seaboard has created that rarest of things in a developed nation: an apparently blank slate, crying out for a new approach.
Few in Japan would argue against the notion that revival is needed. Anaemic economic growth, dysfunctional politics and increasingly unsustainable state debt have contributed to a sense of national malaise, compounded by the failure of safety systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crippled by the tsunami on March 11. In a May interview with the Financial Times, Naoto Kan, prime minister, said the nation had found itself at something of an impasse. “As we overcome the crisis created by this disaster, we must also overcome the preceding crisis, what could be called Japan's structural crisis,” he said.
在日本，極少有人會否認復興的必要性。經濟增長乏力、政治體系失靈、政府負債水平越來越難以持續，這一切都讓人感覺到國家萎靡不振。今年3月11日，海嘯損毀福島第一核電站(Fukushima Daiichi)的安全系統，更加劇了這種感覺。日本首相菅直人(Naoto Kan)5月在接受英國《金融時報》採訪時指出，日本發現自己身陷僵局。他說：“我們在克服天災帶來的危機時，也必須克服在此之前出現的危機，那可以說是日本的結構性危機。”
The question now is whether the world's third-largest economy can use the disaster as a catalyst for effective action to address the difficulties that have dogged it since the huge asset bubble of the 1980s burst.
Tohoku, the region of which the devastated coast is part, would certainly be a good place to start. It is widely seen as a prime example of some of Japan's most deep-rooted problems, including a rapidly ageing and declining population, insecure public finances , and farming and fisheries industries stuck in apparently terminal decline. If reconstruction of coastal communities offers answers to such problems, the region could really become a model for the nation.
Such a result can hardly be assumed, however. While by international standards, Japan's short-term response to the disaster was often impressive, the ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima Daiichi in particular has exposed plenty of government failings. Confidence in official promises to protect the population from radiation exposure has been battered by revelations of inadequate monitoring and confused decision-making over evacuation areas.
For the tens of thousands of residents from towns around the plant who are stuck in far-flung temporary accommodation, reconstruction remains a distant dream. And last month, beef from hundreds of cattle contaminated with levels of radioactive caesium far above the official limit was found to have been distributed to shops across the country.
Mr Kan and his cabinet have also been struggling to come up with a coherent energy policy amid divisions over the future of nuclear power in Japan, and whether or not to restart reactors stopped for safety checks or maintenance after the disaster. The population has responded admirably to calls for cuts of up to 15 per cent in peak-time electricity use in Greater Tokyo and other areas, which have forced companies to shift working hours and left workers sweltering in their offices. But uncertainty about future energy supply is fuelling fears of an acceleration of the exodus of manufacturing to China and elsewhere.
Optimists cite Japan's recovery from the second world war, which left many cities as smoking ruins, as an example of how such difficulties can be overcome. But Tadao Ando, one of the nation's leading architects, speaks for many when he wonders aloud whether his compatriots are the equal of the postwar generation. “It seems to me that now we are lacking those kinds of children, and the adults aren't working so hard,” he says. “To live is to fight, but we have created a nation that dislikes and avoids fighting.”
樂觀者以日本在第二次世界大戰後恢復元氣為例，說明能夠克服這些困難。二戰後，日本許多城市變成了冒煙的廢墟。但是，日本著名建築師安藤忠雄(Tadao Ando)公開質疑，現在的日本人能否與戰後一代相提並論，他的話說出了許多人的心聲。 “在我看來，我們現在似乎缺少那種孩子，成年人也沒有那麼勤奮，”他說。 “生活就是拼搏，但我們已經造就了一個厭惡拼搏、迴避拼搏的民族。”
Mr Ando, a vice-chairman on the reconstruction design council that drew up the government's basic vision for revival, also laments slow decision-making among ministries and agencies. “Now the world is watching how Japan rebuilds. If reconstruction fails, then the world will lose confidence in Japan,” he warns. “And investment will not come to a nation that does not command confidence.”
作為東日本大震災復興構想會議(Reconstruction Design Council)的副主席，安藤忠雄也對各部和各政府機構之間的緩慢決策表示惋惜。復興構想會議負責勾勒政府的基本複興願景。 “現在世人在關注著日本的重建。如果重建失敗，全世界都會對日本失去信心，”他警告說。 “而如果一個國家無法贏得別人的信心，就不會有人來投資。”
Yet making a real success of reconstruction following a disaster whose scale would tax any peacetime government will be a huge challenge. The earthquake and tsunami left more than 20,000 people dead or missing and destroyed or seriously damaged more than 200,000 homes. Some 23,000 hectares of farmland were flooded with salt water. More than 21,000 fishing boats were lost. And the shift in the earth's plates that caused the magnitude 9.0 tremor reduced the height of land along the north-east coast, in some places by more than a metre, making harbours and towns even more vulnerable to future tsunamis and typhoons.
The resulting costs impose an extra burden on an already heavily stretched government – gross state debt is more than 200 per cent of gross domestic product. Disposing of more than 20m tonnes of tsunami debris alone is expected to cost Y680bn ($8.6bn). Authorities plan to spend at least Y19,000bn on reconstruction in the next five years, to be financed mainly through special bonds and tax increases.
Such spending should ensure the north-east coast's infrastructure is largely restored. But the real questions are whether the safety of the area's residents can be assured and whether communities already suffering long-term economic and demographic decline can be made economically sustainable.
One core approach, laid out by the reconstruction design council, and a potential model for the rest of the seismically risky archipelago, is to put aside hopes of ensuring complete protection in favour of “disaster reduction”. Breakwaters, sea walls and dykes are to be rebuilt, ideally stronger than before, so that they can deal with smaller tsunamis and typhoons. But there is no intention of creating the huge barriers that would be needed to cope with a wave on the scale of that of March 11. Instead, settlements will be moved to higher ground or land will be raised. Greater emphasis will be placed on ensuring that residents are always able – and ready – to escape if necessary.
In the city of Ofunato in Iwate prefecture, which was hard hit on March 11, officials have already drawn up provisional reconstruction plans. Kimiaki Toda, mayor of Ofunato, flicks through pages of maps of the city centre and nearby harbour villages to show how homes can be built on new compact residential areas on nearby hills, and how highway and railway embankments will be used as inland barriers to shield residents.
在3月11日受災嚴重的岩手縣大船渡市(Ofunato, Iwate prefecture)，官員們已經制訂了暫行重建計劃。市長戶田公明(Kimiaki Toda)翻著大船渡市內和附近漁村的地圖，說明如何在附近山上建造新型集中住宅區，以及如何利用公路和鐵路的路堤作為內陸防護堤，以保護市民。
Yet moving tens of thousands from vulnerable lower ground raises problems of financing and land-use law. Mr Toda also recognises that reaching agreement within each community on how to rebuild will be tricky – and that some residents are likely to want to stay near the sea despite the risk.
There is deep uncertainty about how to stem an often precipitous decline in the populations of many coastal communities, where few young people stay after secondary school, and ageing fishermen and farmers must struggle ever harder to find successors.
The disaster creates a chance to address the underlying problems of the farming and fishing sectors. There are calls for the creation of new zones where private companies could be granted fishing rights previously controlled by fishing co-operatives. Yet such proposals face strong opposition, a reminder that the apparent tabula rasa created by the tsunami does not mean that existing interests and habits have been erased.
More broadly, the government plans to establish special zones in the affected prefectures, where enterprise and job creation will be encouraged by tax policies and streamlined administration – another possible model for a nation where businesspeople complain that they are hobbled by red tape.
But it is unclear whether policy reforms alone can stem the population decline on a coast lined with countless fishing villages. Mr Toda, for example, argues that more fundamental change is needed. Conservative communities need to become more welcoming environments for young people, where innovation is welcome. “This is not only an issue for Ofunato city. It's an issue for all of Japan,” he says.
The most rational policy response might simply be to consolidate some communities into safer planned new towns rather than trying to rebuild them. Yet this approach has little appeal in a region of strong local loyalties.
The town of Minami Sanriku in Miyagi prefecture was almost obliterated by the tsunami, which left 987 of its 17,666 residents dead or missing. About 70 per cent of homes and 85 per cent of its shops and businesses were swept away. Mayor Jin Sato survived only by clinging to a railing on the roof of the town hall as the torrent carried off dozens of colleagues.
宮城縣南三陸町(Minami Sanriku, Miyagi prefecture)在海嘯中幾乎全毀，17666名居民中有987人遇難或失踪。海嘯沖毀了約70%的住宅，約85%的店鋪和商用設施。海嘯的急流沖走了市政廳內幾十名公務員，町長佐藤仁(Jin Sato)靠抓緊屋頂上的一道護欄，才死裡逃生。
Homeless survivors are now scattered in prefabricated houses around the area or in temporary accommodation further afield. It is impossible to know how many will come back, but Mr Sato is determined the town will survive. The greatest need, he says, is for action from central authorities to prevent residents from losing hope.
The government has come up with a broad plan based on its reconstruction council's vision. But after an interlude of unity, feuding between a weakened Kan administration and opposition groups and party rivals determined to topple the prime minister has returned. “Despite the situation in the disaster area, politics are continuing as usual,” Mr Sato says. “We have had more than 100 members of the Diet visit and, while they are here, they all say how terrible it is and how they are going to do something. But when they get home, they seem to forget all about it.”
The effect of political scrapping should not be overplayed: the government and opposition have put aside their differences to pass vital reconstruction financing bills. The disaster has also underscored the resilience of corporate Japan, with companies in the disaster-hit areas bouncing back much more quickly than expected.
Tohoku is now cited as the likely focus of a national drive to develop renewable energy. With public opinion turning against new atomic power plants, the redirection of investment, research and innovation towards wind, solar and biomass could become a source of national growth.
Indeed, for all its problems, few doubt Japan still commands formidable social, economic and financial reserves. Not least, the fortitude and determination shown by the people of Tohoku have offered an inspirational model for a discouraged nation.
Along the north-east coast, residents are labouring hard to bring some semblance of normality to their shattered communities. The village of Okirai in Iwate prefecture, for example, is still littered with debris from the tsunami. But Sumiko Nakai, 85, can be found pulling weeds from a silted-up traffic island. “I thought it should be cleaned up a bit,” she says. “Rather than asking somebody else, it's better to do things yourself.”
在日本東北沿海地區，居民們正在努力讓受到重創的家園重現一絲正常。就拿岩手縣越喜來村(Okirai, Iwate prefecture)來說，儘管海嘯留下的垃圾仍隨處可見，但85歲的中井澄子（Sumiko Nakai，音譯）已經在積滿淤泥的安全島上拔除野草了。 “我覺得這兒應該清理清理，”中井澄子說，“叫別人做，還不如自己動手。”