Japan's Great Wall: Can It Stop A Tsunami?

ABC News In-depth -- Mar 02
When a massive tsunami engulfed the north-eastern coastline of Japan a decade ago, it wiped out everything in its path, flattening villages, killing nearly 20,000 people and triggering a nuclear meltdown.

The old seawalls which had been built along the coastline to protect villages and infrastructure offered little protection. Today, the government’s solution to a future tsunami is to build an even bigger and longer seawall to protect Japan’s coastal communities.

Up to 14 metres high and 400 kilometres long, the new seawall is dividing

communities, and some fear, placing them in greater danger.

In this ARTE documentary, presented by former ABC Japan correspondent Mark Willacy, The Great Wall of Japan travels along the north-eastern coast of Japan’s main island to meet the fishermen and communities affected by one of the country’s biggest ever construction projects.

Scientists are divided on the benefits. Some say the wall will slow a tsunami’s advance, allowing more time for people to escape. Others say it will do the opposite, providing a false sense of security, delaying departure and putting people in greater danger.

Some believe the 13 billion US dollars spent on the wall’s construction could have been better used moving more communities to higher ground.

- ABC News In-depth