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Tuesday, 13th August 2013
In General Japan News,

Japanese town to scrap shipping boat washed ashore by tsunami

Of all the visible scars and reminders left on Japan's landscape by the devastating tsunami of 2011, the marooned shipping vessel Kyotoko Maru No 18, which became washed up on the shore at Kesennuma, is perhaps the most striking.

However, the boat's residency on the beach is soon to come to an end after the majority of residents of the town, which can be found in Miyagi prefecture, voted to scrap it rather than keep it as a monument.

The magnitude 9.0 quake that triggered the tsunami on March 11th 2011 struck 250 miles north-east of Tokyo, and was the most powerful ever recorded in Japan, sending huge waves towards the island of Honshu, where a large number of vessels became stranded on shorelines.

Kesennuma - which has a population of around 70,000 - was among the worst hit towns, and the appearance of Kyotoko Maru No 18 has become something of a symbol of the disaster over the past two-and-a-half years.

Locals began flocking to the 60 m long vessel shortly after the tsunami, using it as a focal point to pray and leave flowers, although they have now decided to have it broken up for scrap in an attempt to free themselves from the memory of this tragic event.

Kesennuma resident Yoshimi Abe told the Associated Press that the boat was a "constant reminder" of the tsunami, adding that "when I walk by it every morning, my heart aches".

City mayor Shigeru Sugawara had hoped that locals would vote to keep the vessel, which he describes as a "visible symbol of what happened here", although it seems the general sentiment in the town is that people can no longer bear the site of Kyotoko Maru No 18.

By removing the boat, residents hope to be able to move on from what has been a difficult period in their recent history.

Written by Graham McPherson