6 Months On: Road to Recovery in Wajima and Noto Peninsula

Written by BCCJ
June 28, 2024


Written by BCCJ
June 28, 2024

On June 17, a team of 9 led by the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan headed to the Ishikawa Prefecture to begin a 3-day support mission in the city of Wajima. The devastation caused by the January 1 earthquake, the third deadliest earthquake since the Heisei Era (1989-2019), is still very much on display though there are notable signs of progress in comparison to the BCCJ’s previous trip on February 8Well over half of temporary housing units have now been completed, road conditions to and from the city have vastly improved and running water and electricity are in much better supply. Consequently, 408 out of 792 of Wajima’s local businesses have managed to reopen in some capacity.


Aerial view of temporary housing units in Wajima


Day 1

A focal point of the Chamber’s mission was to understand the short and long-term challenges facing Wajima and how the international community can play a supportive role in assisting recovery efforts. The BCCJ met up with representatives of the Wajima Chamber of Commerce who provided a briefing on the current state of affairs. 

Challenges include:

  • a lack of construction workers, electricians and other key roles integral to restoring the city’s infrastructure.
  • deterioration of building structures by natural elements such as snow, rainwater and high temperatures
  • issues locating property owners and inheritance disputes are delaying demolition and clean up efforts
  • a lack of safe space for children to play outdoors
  • poor transportation access is still causing a delay in supplies
  • debris largely remains to be cleared, most notably from the morning market

Longer term, there are concerns about how to revitalize the rattled economic foundations of Wajima. The local population has dropped by around 30%, placing an additional strain on the local economy and those who rely on business from local residents. Talks have begun on how to utilize the once vibrant morning market in a way that can retain and attract the next generation who will be integral to the longevity of Wajima.


Day 2

On the second day, the BCCJ engaged in volunteering activities through the Wajima’s Social Welfare Council. In the AM, the team got to work clearing out a residential home and fish shop scheduled for demolition. In the PM, the team began sorting and cleaning lacquerware chopsticks at a family business run by a couple now in their 80s. 



There is a high demand for volunteer support where numbers are thinning over time. To learn more about organising a volunteer trip with colleagues/friends, please email the BCCJ at [email protected] or visit the Wajima’s Social Welfare Council website.


Day 3

On the third day, the team visited a local shelter housing evacuees who for various reasons have not yet been relocated. It was a pleasure to share a few British traditions and products, and with that we would like to offer a sincere thank you to everyone who donated products. That includes Louis Pommery, Wimbledon Garden Gin, Kent Crisps, Decima, Aberffraw, Welsh Lady JamsBeau and Bon, Good & Proper Tea and also an array of homemade scones.



We would also like to thank Jaguar Land Rover for once again lending us a Defender 130 which proved essential for safely transporting donated goods to the area and making lightwork of often difficult road conditions. Also, our thanks to NHK News for also providing media coverage of the BCCJ’s mission: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/lnews/kanazawa/20240623/3020020684.html



In conclusion, it is of great importance that we do not turn a blind eye to the ongoing recovery efforts in Wajima and across the Noto Peninsula. A big difference can be made in small ways, whether that be purchasing local products, visiting the area and placing money back into the local economy or even organising a volunteering mission with friends and colleagues. 

From the BCCJ side, we are looking to use our upcoming British Business Awards to highlight crafts and cuisine from Wajima. 

BCCJ member, Klein Dytham architecture is also working in the Noto region with the NPO ‘Home-for-All’, established by Pritzker Prize laureate Toyo Ito, of which Astrid and Mark are board members. They built 16 ‘Home-for-All’ community hubs in the temporary housing areas in Fukushima and almost in 100 in Kumamoto after the two earthquakes there and are looking to work similarly in Noto. Their first ‘Home-for-All’ will be built in the small town of Noroshi, on the most remote tip of the Noto peninsular, and is due to be open in September 2024 adjacent to temporary housing, which is currently being built.


Photos taken from Klein Dytham architecture visit to the remote end of the Noto peninsula