Courage of your Convictions

Image of Fudai seawall
Fighting tsunamis – one floodgate at a timeSed [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

 

 

 

“Even if you encounter opposition, have conviction and finish what you start. In the end, people will understand.”1

Develop your arsenal, skills, support system!

Ridicule and humiliation are popular tools used by manipulators to get you to agree with them. This is implicit in much of social media. Others in your network tell you, or imply, that everybody thinks like they do and you are stupid not to. Of course, they may not put it as bluntly, but that is what they mean. Nobody likes to look foolish in front of others and it often takes a strong belief in your own opinion, choice, etc. to stand-up to someone who is using ridicule to bully you into agreeing with him/her.

What reinforces that strong belief and gives you the confidence to stick to your guns (or opinion) is the knowledge that your thinking and analysis is good and sound. You have used and/or are using sound universally accepted thinking and analytical tools. Developing good critical thinking and analysis skills, and a broad frame of reference, will give you the skill and the courage to explore issues and make informed decisions that you can defend.  

Being informed and with good critical thinking and analytical skills and a sense of what is right is even more important in our disrupted world than ever before.  That’s what I admire about Kotoku Wamura (now deceased) a past mayor of Fudai, Japan, who must have fought very hard for something in which he believed – a sea wall and a set of floodgates – to protect his village against the devastation that a tsunami could cause.  Other villages on the east coast of Japan have sea walls but none as large as those of Fudai. 

Background

Kotoku (Kotaku?) Wamura (1909 to 1997) was mayor of Fudai village, 320 km north of Tokyo, for four decades (1947 to 1987). The village is in northeast Japan and in the heart of the devastation wrought by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami. According to various newspaper reports and Wikipedia, his conviction that that there would be more similar disasters in the future provided him with the tenacity to promote and see realized a plan to protect the Fudai residents and the village itself from future disaster. 

Facts and experience

In brief. As a young adult Kotoku Wamura witnessed the devastation and death caused in Fudai by   earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis. He later went on to serve four terms of office as mayor of his village and he used his position during this time to get approval for, and the building of, the protective wall against the sea. 

In the 1970s, Mayor Kotoku Wamura persuaded the villagers of Fudai to build a massive seawall and floodgate which in today’s money cost of around R115 000 000 (£20 million). The cost was shared between government and the village.  

For a fishing village of around 3000 inhabitants it was a heavy financial burden to carry. Although the national exchequer apparently met half the cost as part of its post-war economic strategy, it still meant that every women and child had to pay almost R38 000 (£3 400) each. If only one in every four individuals had an income, this means that every unit of four people (possibly a family) paid around R152 000 (£13 500). An enormous burden for a small population. In addition, landowners were apparently unhappy with the appropriation of their land. 

Why did the mayor think building the wall important? Obviously it was based on  Japanese history of tsunami devastation and his belief that the highest was yet to come.  

June 15, 1896. A magnitude 8.5 earthquake followed by a 25 metre (80 feet) tsunami occurs off Sanriku, Japan. The tsunami was about the height of a seven-or eight-story building. The Meiji-Sanriku earthquake resulted in extensive damage and between 22 000 and 28 000 deaths. 170 miles of coastline was destroyed. 

March 2, 1933. A magnitude 8.4 earthquake followed by a tsunami again occurs 290 km off the coast of Honshu island, Japan. Around 3,000 deaths occurred with most of the casualties and damage caused by the tsunami. About 5,000 houses were destroyed, of which nearly 3 000 were washed away. The maximum wave heights were around 29 metres (94 ft).

These are just two examples of devastating tsunamis of which the mayor would have had intimate knowledge.   

March 11, 2011. According to reports  the Fudai wall and seagates withstood the 2011 tsunami, which reached a maximum of almost 40 metres (128 ft).

Although the tsunami that followed the March 2011 earthquake flattened adjacent villages and towns, only one person, a fisherman, died in Fudai; immediately after the earthquake, he went down to the fishing port (beyond the protection) to check on his boat. Presumably he drowned.


  1. Tomoko A. Hosaka , a business & economics reporter at The Associated Press (AP) reported that at his retirement, Wamura stood before village employees to bid farewell: “Even if you encounter opposition, have conviction and finish what you start. In the end, people will understand.”