The Mainichi answers some common questions readers may have about restoration work at Kumamoto Castle, heavily damaged in the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake disaster.
Question: When will Kumamoto Castle be restored?
Answer: The Kumamoto Municipal Government aims to restore the castle within the next 20 years. Top priority has been placed on restoring the towers at Kumamoto Castle -- which have been positioned as "symbols of recovery" -- with the central tower planned to be repaired by 2019, and the smaller tower by 2021. Currently, most of the areas surrounding the castle cannot be accessed by the public but it is possible to view scenery from places such as the "Ninomaru Hiroba" on the western side of the castle.
Q: What has happened to the statues on the towers that fell down as a result of the earthquake?
A: Two "Shachihoko" statues from the main tower, and two from the smaller tower were damaged. Replacements have recently been completed, and they are now on display at a nearby tourist center. The Kumamoto Municipal Government plans to place them on the towers from next spring onward.
Q: The stone wall of the castle and other parts of the building were damaged as well, right?
A: About 30 percent of the some 79,000-square-meter stone wall was damaged, including some sections that collapsed. Since the stone walls within the castle have been designated as a special historic site by the Japanese government, they are also planned for complete restoration. Sophisticated construction techniques designed to make the walls earthquake-resistant are also being considered, and many specialists are paying attention to the project as a test to study the most earthquake-resistant way of piling up stones. The municipal government plans to start the restoration work on the 13 special historic sites within the castle that include Uto turrets and long fences by fiscal 2022.
Q: How much will the restoration cost?
A: The Kumamoto Municipal Government has provisionally calculated the total figure at about 63.4 billion yen but it is possible that this might increase further.
Q: Will the central government support the project?
A: Yes, the central government is planning to provide significant support. It's expected to cover 75 percent of the stone wall costs, as well as two-thirds of the tower restoration costs, using money from the national treasury. The municipal government will also provide money using donations collected via a nationwide fund. Since the fund was started in November 2016, about 1.32 billion yen has been received from 76,000 sources. (Answers by Hayato Jojima, Kumamoto Bureau)