KESENNUMA, Japan (AP) — A stranded fishing boat that became a symbol of the devastation of Japan's 2011 tsunami has long divided a northeastern coastal city — between those who wanted to keep it as a monument of survival and those who wanted a painful reminder gone.
Last week, the city announced it will be torn down after a heated debate and citywide vote. The soul-searching over the ship highlights how the aftermath of the tsunami disaster continues to torment Japan two years later.
The 330 metric ton (360 ton) Kyotokumaru was swept by the towering tsunami from the city's dock for about 750 meters (800 yards) into a residential district.
It has become a landmark for Kesennuma, a port city of 70,000 people, and a testament to the destructive power of the tsunami set off by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011, which killed nearly 19,000 people.
The nearby smashed buildings and debris were cleared, but the 60-meter (200-foot) tuna-fishing boat has stood, majestic but oddly jarring, on dry ground for more than two years.
Opinion on the ship had been so divided it had been put to a vote by the city residents last month. Of the 14,083 responses, 68 percent, or 9,622 people, voted to have the ship destroyed. Only 16 percent voted to keep it.
Yoshimi Abe, a 72 year-old housewife and Kesennuma resident, was among those who wanted to get rid of the ship.
It's just a constant reminder of the terrible disaster," she said. "When I walk by it every morning, my heart aches."
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