The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami was a result of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake which took place 100km east of Japan’s Miyagi prefecture in the north-western Pacific Ocean 1). The earthquake which was the largest ever recorded in Japan, also caused a large tsunami wave with a maximum height of 17m which flooded over 507km2 of land leaving behind 26.7 million tons of debris 1). The damage from the disaster was extensive with 15,365 deaths and 111,044 buildings destroyed across 20 prefectures 1). The nature of the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster has similarities to the Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster of 2004, which was also triggered by an earthquake of the same magnitude followed by a destructive tsunami which swept across many countries including Sri Lanka 2).
This paper will look at the reconstruction and recovery process undertaken in Sri Lanka, one of the worst impacted countries from the Indian Ocean Tsunami with particular focus on the theme “Build Back Better”; how it was embraced and incorporated in recovery; successes and failures in implementation; and long-term impacts on the country, in order to extract lessons for Japan’s ongoing recovery activities.