Why do Victims of the Tsunami Return to the Coast?

Kyoko Ueda*, Hiroyuki Torigoe

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    The purpose of this paper is to clarify why people continuously live in places where a specific natural disaster comes with apparent frequency. Even after a natural disaster of tremendous scale occurs, some victims attempt to remain or later return "home" while inviting the risk of experiencing further catastrophe. Why do people opt to continuously live where they are prone to natural disasters instead of living at a distance from the coastline? Especially for those who have just experienced the tsunami; what motivates them to make the decision to go back to the coast? As the case study of a community in a fishing village indicates, people know that life near the coast is inevitably entwined with both the severity and fertility of the sea. In other words, what people know is that they cannot have one without the other. Both sides of the sea have conditioned the life of people and that is what they have adapted to. Because of their closeness to the sea, the fertility they have enjoyed and the vulnerability as a coastal community are inseparable for them. When the tsunami struck, they did not know how to save all members of the community, their homes, nor their ships. Whereas, they did know how they should adapt to the inherent instability of their coastal community and how they should revive the community. This process would unfold only after having an understanding of the way in which they needed to adapt to their local bay. As a coastal community they were ready to accept their vulnerability, even immediately after the destruction of the tsunami, as it was the condition in which to enjoy the fertility of the sea as their ancestors had done throughout history.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21-29
    Number of pages9
    JournalInternational Journal of Japanese Sociology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar


    • Fishing village
    • Resilience
    • Tsunami

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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