On March 11, 2011, Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai watched from his office window as a massive tsunami crashed into the city of Minamisoma, tearing up pine trees, farms and houses, and killing nearly 500 people in the city on the Fukushima coast. This was just the beginning of the former mayor’s agony.
When the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, just 25km south of the city center, went into meltdown, all but a few residents evacuated. Minamisoma became a ghost town – much of it in the mandated 20km evacuation around the plant, but Sakurai stayed put.
In a plea for help released on YouTube noticed around the world, Sakurai said his residents had been “abandoned.” He also slammed the central government’s plans to resume operations at nuclear power plants in the country.
Sakurai was selected in 2011 as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world. Now out of office, Sakurai will come to the FCCJ to talk about the harrowing events of a decade ago how Minamisoma has recovered, and but the challenges the city still faces.