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The story told by newspaper inserts over 1,000 days after 3/11


A large majority of households in Japan have newspapers delivered to them every morning. Japanese newspapers contain inserts on an almost daily basis. The major purpose of those inserts is to announce sales events at local supermarkets and retail outlets, publicize new products that may be available and inform residents about new store openings.

The advertising found in the newspaper itself is directed at a wide audience, but the inserts bring out the unique characteristics of the district they are delivered to because they contain information that residents in that area will find useful in their daily lives.

Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, is located along the Pacific coast and the central part of the town was devastated by the tsunami that hit after the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011. Among the 1,284 who died or were reported as missing was the incumbent mayor. The town is only now slowly emerging from the devastation to begin the long process of rebuilding that will include measures to deal with possible tsunami in the future as well as the mass movement of neighborhoods to higher ground.

Over the 1,000 days since the earthquake and tsunami, a total of 5,551 inserts were delivered to local residents along with newspapers in the town. Along with an analysis of all those inserts, reporters of The Asahi Shimbun also interviewed some of the people who issued the inserts. As a result, the 1,000 days were divided up into three separate periods and an assessment was made of what the town went through over that time.