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|Restoration Situation Of Iwanuma District And Sendai Port, Miyagi Prefecture|
|= Tohoku Steel Products Dealers Association lobbied for early and local-prioritized order placement =|
Half year has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Steel related industry cannot see what is lying ahead, as Tohoku Steel Products Dealers Association says, "Construction industry in three afflicted prefectures (Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima) is showing a considerable decline. Construction related demand has dropped to no more than 60 - 70% from before the earthquake." Steel demand in Tohoku district is about 2 million tonnes per year which accounts for approximately 4% of whole of Japan. This has dropped to around 1.5 - 1.6 million tonnes, and there have been no construction order placements except for urgent ones. We conducted interviews with the steel dealership in Iwanuma City and Sendai Port about current restoration situation and future prospects. |
Iwanuma City of Miyagi Prefecture is one of the cities severely damaged by the earthquake occurred on March 11. At Ninokura industrial complex in the City, located around 20km south of Sendai and 500 - 600 meters from the sea coast, an open steel dealership was afflicted. Sendai Airport, located 3km north of Sendai, had all its aircrafts on runway swept up by the tsunami. Mr Yoshiro Saito, CEO of Shin-ei Shoji and a member of Tohoku Steel Products Dealers Association, said that the situation in Ninokura was "the worst." Industrial complex was hit by 3 meters high tsunami. The outside wall of the factory was destroyed by black muddy water mixed with oil, and sludge was accumulating inside the building.
Without electricity, water or gas, recovery work started from mud shovelling using scoops. "Young employees were shooting grit over and over again to scour the rust off and put in a lot of effort in order not to turn mud-soaked coils into ferrous scrap but to revive them as commercial products," said Mr Saito.
Currently, all the mud and wreckage are removed, and recovery work has made progress. Shibui Steel Shop based in the same area resumed sales operations of wide flats from July 2011. Meanwhile, a coil center "M" Steel has decided to close its plant.
Out of the whole members of Tohoku Steel Products Dealers Association, 78% of their buildings were totally or half destroyed. Besides, public and private construction works from before the earthquake have stopped. Mr Saito says, "Sales dropped by half in March and April, and we were severely damaged," adding that, "It got a little better in May and June, but still, the future is uncertain.
It has been six months since the earthquake and people have various minds.
"The first and second supplementary budgets were for wreckage removal and temporary housing construction but no budgets for reconstruction. It has been half a year when unemployment insurance expires, and we still have no jobs. Although people say "Gambare Tohoku," (Gambare: a voice to encourage someone) there is nothing we can do," Mr Saito says honestly. (Unemployment insurance was extended based on Special Measures Law depending on conditions.)
Other voices are: "We are now resetting our minds to what they were before." (Mr Isao Ujiie, Director of Tohoku Steel Products Dealers Association) "Almost all the machineries were destroyed. We have tackled the tasks right in front of us one by one. I am impressed with how we could come so far." (Mr Kenji Takezawa, CEO of Takezawa Corporation) "We could never imagine all this huge damage. There were numerous victims, and many people had to struggle with hard feelings for this half year. It was not until recently that I started to think that I would like to be of some help to the restoration of this area. (Koichi Nishimura, Corporate officer's head of Sato Seisen Corporation)
|last modified : Fri 07 Oct, 2011 [10:48]|