New Zealand's strong connection to tsunami-hit Japanese area

Billions of dollars have been invested into rebuilding the Tōhoku region hit by the 2011 tsunami.

It came just weeks after Christchurch experienced its own natural disaster on February 22nd.

It's a tale of two cities rebuilding together but at two different speeds and scales.

In a mammoth line of defence, 400km of cement seawall has been set up to protect Japan's vulnerable seaside towns from another deadly tsunami.

It's been eight years since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake unleashed a force of nature so ferocious that very little survived in its path. Almost 19,000 people died or are still missing in Japan's worst natural disaster.

For the locals, including Kiwi Cheryl Anderson, the seawall is physical and mental insurance.

"There was the whole 'what if another disaster occurs again' but... they've got protection for everyone," she says.

Locals call these walls a necessary evil. At a cost of NZ$17 billion, they've been built to block out the sea.

But on the other side, it's blocking the sea views and access that lures people to these towns. Many locals worry they will impact tourism.

Billions more has been spent on rebuilding a brand new subway line. The backbone of Sendai city's public transport, it took less than five years to build.

Homes have been rebuilt too away from the sea, where the land resembles the empty red zone so familiar to Christchurch.

"For them to be able to know that 'hey, we can move forward from this, we don't have to live in fear anymore, we can get on with our lives'," Anderson says.

She says she feels at home here, which is no surprise as Sendai has a strong connection to New Zealand.

We deployed search and rescue teams direct from the quake-hit Christchurch to help in the aftermath.

And as a gesture of solidarity, the Sendai government gifted a street lamp on the edge of Christchurch's Hagley Park.

"We have that connection where people have come together because of what has happened," Anderson says.

Two cities that suffered such a huge tragedy just weeks apart, are rebuilding together.

But in Sendai's case, it's at a speed and scale unlike what's been seen at home.


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