– until his village was left almost untouched by tsunami
Last updated at 2:32 AM on 14th May 2011
The huge sea wall and floodgates took 12 years to build and had been widely regarded as a £20million folly. But today one former Japanese mayor is being hailed as a saviour after the grandiose construction allowed his small town escaped the devastation wrought by the March 11 tsunami.
In the rubble of Japan’s northeast coast, Fudai stands as tall as ever after. No homes were swept away. In fact, they barely got wet.
The 3,000 residents owe their lives to the late Kotaku Wamura, who lived through an earlier tsunami and made it a priority of his four-decade tenure as mayor to defend his people from the next one.
The floodgate project was criticized as wasteful in the 1970s. But the gate and an equally high seawall behind the community’s adjacent fishing port protected Fudai from the waves that obliterated so many other towns.
Since the tsunami, residents have been visiting his grave to pay respects.