Photo/IllutrationThe “miracle pine tree” on a beach in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, which survived the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

To send a strong message as the theme of the "reconstruction Olympics," the torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will pass through disaster-hit areas including Iwate and Kumamoto prefectures, according to sources.

A brief overview of the torch relay route across Japan was revealed on May 25.

The torch is planned to pass by disaster sites undergoing reconstruction such as the “miracle pine tree” on a beach in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture.

The sole tree miraculously survived the tsunami disaster in March 2011, but later died due to seawater poisoning its roots. It was later erected back into place as a memorial in 2013.

Another disaster site that is undergoing restoration is Kumamoto Castle, which was severely damaged by strong earthquakes in Kumamoto in 2016.

Surrounding areas of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park where the Atomic Bomb Dome, a registered UNESCO World Heritage site, is located are expected to be included in the course.

The detailed route will be officially announced on June 1.

Among other World Heritage sites, the Shirakami mountains at the border of Aomori and Akita prefectures and the Tomioka Silk Mill in Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture, are also under consideration as part of the route.

Other possibilities include the National Ainu Museum and Park in Shiraoi, Hokkaido, the hub to transmit the culture of the Ainu people, which will open in April 2020.

Ise Jingu shrine in Ise, Mie Prefecture, the Amanohashidate sandbar in Miyazu, Kyoto Prefecture, and the Kintaikyo Bridge in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, are also planned to be part of the route.

The theme of the reconstruction Olympics was used in Tokyo’s bid to host the Olympics after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami devastated the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011.

However, there are some in those affected prefectures who are feeling left out from the preparations and excitement surrounding the Games.