Matsumoto Nobuko

During a few nightmarish seconds on January 17th, the first floor of our house, with all of its many good memories collapsed, with the second floor leaning on the ground. Although we lived in the worst affected area in AshiyaCity, we were all fortunate to be rescued with no injury.

@Since that day, we have been hanging on to the belief that our life would be restored to normal someday, and therefore never expected to face another big problem again.

@One month passed, and on February 23rd.

@I heard from my neighbor that the city government would hold a meeting in the nearby park, so I went. The paper given to us at the meeting listed terms which I had never heard of before, such as 'Land Readjustment Project', 'Genpo (Having to give up land without compensation)', 'Adjusted Money', and 'Substitute Land'.

@While I didn't understand them at all, I listened to the explanation of the city official in charge. According to his explanation, 'Genpo' is to get residents to offer their land for free, to the city in order to make a big road or park, and 'Adjusted Money' means that the residents, who cannot offer their appartment or land, should pay the equivalent in cash. '
Substitute Land' is the land in which most families will be obliged to move to, because they have to leave the area they used to live in order to realize the Land Readjustment Project.

@Since it was such sudden notice, I was struck speechless with astonishment. The city official assumed an attitude that we were to cooperate with the city government in order to proceed with the Land Readjustment Project. Although the city said it was an explanatory meeting, it was held without official notice to the residents, and in a situation where there were few residents left staying in this area at the time.

@With regard to the burden of 'Genpo' and 'Adjusted Money', the official explained that the land value would rise if our town were renewed and became more beautiful and resistant to disaster after the Land Readjustment Project. No one would be unhappy to see our town become more beautiful, but the timing of the project and the methods for implementing it were problems, however.

@Many people lost their posessions, houses and beloved families as well. How could the city take such steps to rebuild the area as the Land Readjustment Project involving 'Genpo', 'Adjusted Money' and '
Substitute Land', which gives those of us in already straitened circumstances even more hardships. Our feeling cannot be understood with only a logical thought. They would only be able to understand if they were in our position.

@After the explanatory meeting of the city, it was possible to view the comprehensive survey of their plan for two weeks from February 28th. The plan had a picture of a very big park we had never before and a road three-times wider. We were told that we could submit our opinions in letters to the mayor and the governor within the period.

@But now I suspect it was just a formality. From the explanation of the city official, I had the impression that the city took advantage of the collapsed houses in the earthquake to implement the land readjustment plan.

@If such a big project is to proceed, there should be long-term discussion and mutual understanding from both sides before the materialization of such a project.

@Some people say that it is good for us because the town will become beautiful.@@However, we are not convinced that we should have to bear 'Adjusted Money' or just give up our land without payment, which is a substantial loss if it is converted into money. Nor are we convinced of the need to make a large park and wide roads that we don't need. I still have this simple question. Why can't the city consider the matter again from the beginning and examine it together with the residents ? I understand it is very hard for the city government to work out an unprecedented reconstruction project after that disastrous earthquake, but nonetheless I want them to put themselves into our shoes and to think how we, the residents who were forced to support the Land Adjustment Project, feel.

@We don't need a large park or wide roads. But if a road is too narrow, the cost of widening it should be covered by public money, not by individuals.

@I hear the reconstruction project proceeded as mentioned above will be subsidized by the Government, but more importantly, it should not be forgotten that many residents are against this Land Readjustment Project.

@Even if we go back to where we used to live, we will still have the worry that we may have to move again someday.... I just want to return to the normal life that I had before, without such worries.