The mayor of the city believes the tree is the symbol of hope for the residents for the future, and it has to be standing, dead or alive. 150 million yen or not.
Some residents wholeheartedly agree with the mayor, while others have doubts, particularly about the money supposedly needed to preserve the tree in the standing position. I am rather surprised that the tree gets "embalmed", instead of burned in a religious ceremony and sent to the "heaven" (wherever the pine tree heaven may be) - a traditional Japanese way.
NHK Morioka (Iwate) had the article for about several hours yesterday, now gone. This is part of the article that I copied while it was still at the local NHK website (7/21/2012):
The method of preservation has been decided for the "Miracle Lone Pine" in Rikuzen Takata City that survived the tsunami of March 11, 2011.
The tree will be cut down at the base, and the trunk will be cut into 5 parts. After they are treated with preservatives they will be pierced through with a metal rod. The tree thus preserved will stand in the original location. Rikuzen Takata Mayor Futoshi Toba disclosed the plan in the press conference on July 20.
According to the plan, the tree will be cut down at the base, and the trunk will be cut into 5 parts. After they are treated with preservatives they will be pierced through with a metal rod, and the base will be secured with bolts so that the tree can stand just like when the tree was alive.
The tree is scheduled to be cut down in the second half of August. [After being cut] the tree will be brought to Nagoya City and Kyoto City where the facilities to treat the wood are located. The core will be removed and the tree will be treated with preservatives. It is hoped that the tree will be standing by the end of February next year.
Rikuzen Takata City is asking for donations to cover the cost of preservation, about 150 million yen [US$1.9 million], but as of two days ago the amount collected was 3.5 million yen. The city will keep calling for support.
Mayor Toba says, "Because the tree, having survived the tsunami and standing, is giving hope to the residents, we have chosen this preservation method. The Lone Pine is our emotional support and our hope for future rebuilding of the city. We would like people all over the country to help us preserve the tree."
Mayor Toba, I was told by one of my twitter followers, lost his wife to the tsunami.
I would still say "Let it go, let the tree die a peaceful death" and find hope elsewhere.
On the other hand, it may be a clear sign that the "recovery", much publicized by the national government, doesn't exist, if the residents of one of the areas hardest-hit by the March 11 tsunami have to rely on a dead tree for hope and support.