Canada Wood Visit to Wajima Town, Ishikawa Prefecture

Shawn Lawlor

By: Shawn Lawlor

Managing Director, Canada Wood Japan/COFI Japan

The Noto Peninsula Earthquake, striking on January 1st, marked a devastating start to the year for the residents of Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. Centered in the picturesque Noto Peninsula, this seismic event unleashed significant destruction across towns and villages. The earthquake not only claimed lives and damaged infrastructure but also left a lasting impact on the community’s heritage and economic foundation, sparking a swift and concerted response from both local and international aid organizations.

On February 9th, I visited Wajima Town in Ishikawa Prefecture’s Noto Peninsula to conduct a follow-up visit to one of the towns most affected by the January 1st Noto Peninsula Earthquake. I traveled with a group from the Osaka Federation of All Wood Industries, led by Chair Ushio Tsuda of Tsuda Sangyo Co., Ltd., to learn firsthand about the impact of the devastating earthquake and consult with local authorities on how we might assist with recovery work in the future.

The town of Wajima has an estimated population of 27,000 and is located on the outer coast of the Noto Peninsula. Regrettably, in the January 1st Noto Earthquake, a total of 101 Wajima residents perished, and 1,744 buildings and residences suffered either significant or irreparable damage. A vast number of historic homes collapsed in the earthquake, and the town’s downtown core and public market were completely destroyed by fire, with an estimated 200 shops lost.

During our visit, we met with Wajima Mayor Shigeru Sakaguchi and City Office General Manager Kazumata Nagai to discuss recovery efforts. Osaka Federation of All Wood Industries Chair Tsuda presented a cash donation on behalf of this association, and Mayor Sakaguchi provided an update on post-earthquake recovery work. We communicated the potential of providing 2×4 temporary housing as needed, and I shared Canada Wood’s experience with reconstruction work in Tohoku. While reconstruction work may be several months away as the current priority was to tend to affected residents and repair basic infrastructure, local officials were appreciative of our willingness to engage. Canada Wood is communicating our findings with government and industry stakeholders to assess opportunities on how we might be of assistance in the future recovery of the region.