Rapid subsidence had been observed along the Pacific coast of northeast Japan and the 2011 M w 9.0 Tohoku-oki earthquake caused additional subsidence over 1 m. On the other hand, geomorphological evidence shows the same area is slightly uplifting in a long-term. In order to interpret this paradoxical vertical movement, we construct a simple model of earthquake deformation cycle. Viscous relaxation in the asthenosphere can significantly affect crustal deformation pattern over an earthquake cycle. When earthquake recurrence interval is longer than the asthenospheric relaxation time, temporal variation in the interseismic deformation pattern becomes significant. Spatially heterogeneous behavior in earthquake recurrence may be responsible for the enigmatic vertical movement in northeast Japan.