UD Trucks remembers Great East Japan Earthquake, ten years on


March 11, 2021 marks 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami devastated coastal areas in the Tohoku region and resulted in the loss of roughly 20,000 lives. UD Trucks would like to extend its deepest condolences and sympathies to the victims and their families as it remembers that fateful day.

A lesson in disaster prevention awareness

UD Trucks has 19 customer centers in the Tohoku region and many of them were severely afflicted by the disaster 10 years ago.

Toshihiro Miyata, Tohoku region director and manager of the Sendai Customer Center at the time remembers, “Ten years ago, after the earthquake subsided, two of our colleagues who returned to their home to check on the safety of their families lost their lives by the ensuing tsunami. It was a tragic loss and I still regret the decision to let them go home. Now, if there is a large earthquake, it is natural to think about the possibility of a tsunami and act, but at that time it didn’t dawn on most people.”

Ishinomaki Customer Center, located along the coast of Miyagi prefecture, was inundated by a meter of water after the tsunami hit. While the building itself was left intact, the surrounding area was left covered in sludge and dangerous debris. It took them six months to resume operations.

Ryuichi Kikegawa, supervisor of the Ishinomaki Customer Center said, “After experiencing such a massive quake, I realized how important it is to be prepared for disasters at all times - both at work and at home. By knowing in advance where to take shelter and how to be on the lookout for falling objects is the best way to stay safe. We have doubled our efforts to remain on guard at all times.

An effort to rebuild and persevere

Japan has engaged in a massive effort to rebuild many of the areas of Tohoku damaged by the earthquake and tsunami over the past decade. While efforts to rebuild infrastructure and facilities have progressed, the fabric of the communities themselves has taken longer to heal.

Masatsugu Sato manages the Haramachi Customer Center, which is located a mere 30 km from the Fukushima nuclear plant. He says "We still see very high demand for nuclear power plant-related construction. However, about half of our customers went out of business or relocated to start businesses elsewhere after the earthquake. About half of the local residents have not returned. The infrastructure along the coast has been rebuilt and the scenery is back, but many former residents have stayed away. There is a sense that we have not fully recovered. Nuclear power plant-related construction will likely be completed by the end of this year, so we would like to work with customers to find ways to keep their businesses going after the demand for construction drops”.

According to Takeshi Ono, head of Ishinomaki Customer Center, UD Trucks is responsible for not only improving the uptime and productivity of customers, but for duly supporting logistics - the very lifeblood of society.

Takeshi Ono says “I was in charge of the Furukawa Customer Center and that location experienced very intense shaking during the earthquake. It was so intense that the ground liquefied and the building was tilted to one side. Ishinomaki city has been able to heal and is gradually returning to normal. It is important for us to be play a part in supporting our customers and communities here.

He concludes, “The Tohoku region has experienced tremendous loss and we still have a hard time, but this is our home. The Sendai Customer Center in the heart of Tohoku is the largest dealer in our domestic sales network, and with that pride, we will continue to move forward with our customers while learning lessons from the past.”

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UD Trucks is a leading Japanese commercial vehicle solutions provider, active in more than 60 countries on all continents. Since its inception in 1935, the company has been an innovation leader with a clear vision to provide the trucks and services the world needs today.

The company is committed to go the extra mile for smart logistics with the most dependable solutions for demanding customers. To best support across applications and geographies, UD Trucks offers a full range of heavy duty trucks - Quon and Quester, medium duty trucks - Condor and Croner, and light duty trucks - Kazet and Kuzer, as well as associated operational and financial services.