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Work to demolish tsunami-hit town hall in Iwate Pref. begins

Demolition work on the former Otsuchi Town Hall is seen in Iwate Prefecture on Jan. 19, 2019. (Mainichi/Naoki Watanabe)

OTSUCHI, Iwate -- The municipal government here in northeastern Japan on Jan. 19 started full-scale demolition work of its former town hall, where the mayor and 27 employees were killed by tsunami following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Local residents had been divided over whether they should tear the building down or preserve it for future generations to learn lessons about the disaster. Mayor Kozo Hirano, who supported the demolition work, explained, "There are people who think it's unbearable to see the ruins."

Residents against the demolition sued the town government in a bid to stop the work but the court dismissed their suit on Jan. 17. The demolition of the building is scheduled for completion in February and the ground will be leveled in early March.

(Japanese original by Tomoko Fujii, Morioka Bureau)

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