From drive to action ~ Message on March 11
March 11, 2013 - Updated
Two years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Some might feel these two years flew by, while others may feel time moved at only a snail's pace. Either way, none of us will ever forget the disaster. The tremendous shaking of the ground, followed by the massive tsunami waves and nuclear power plant accident, greatly scarred Japan. Each and every individual who saw the destruction was moved to do something, and this drive gave birth to countless voluntary initiatives.
Time has the power to turn the extraordinary into routine.
During these two years, the disaster-affected region has changed significantly. With the exception of select areas, much of the debris has been removed and there is little sign of the many rescue workers and other emergency workers who used to be seen on every corner. But things like the deep gashes left by the earthquake and tsunami, the lines of trucks engaging in construction work that continues at all hours, the prefabricated houses of the temporary housing sites have become part of our everyday landscape. There are also things that cannot be seen by the naked eye that have also become normalized, like the emotional scars and all the worries and burdens of daily life. The difficult lives of all those who survived the disaster and those who continue to be displaced continue still now.
In the face of these obstacles, people are keeping hope alive. They are moving forward one step at a time, working to take back their lives, their sense of security, their communities, and their homeland. We pray that their efforts will continue, grow ever stronger, and become the trigger for rebuilding people's lives and the revitalization of Japan itself.
It has been two years since the Japan Civil Network for Disaster Relief in East Japan (JCN) was established. We have come on this journey with many friends, including disaster survivors and the displaced. We will continue to work hand in hand with these friends and hopefully with many new ones, all the while keeping in mind the need for sustainable support.
The many hardships faced by those in the disaster affected areas may have changed form but continue to exist. As memories of the disaster threaten to fade, we believe it is crucial for the whole of Japan to reaffirm that this difficult reality coexists with what seems to be normal, everyday life elsewhere. Both in and outside the disaster-affected areas, we need to remember that drive we all felt in the aftermath of the disaster and continue to shape that drive into real action.
March 11, 2013
Japan Civil Network (JCN) for Disaster Relief in East Japan
One year on, we continue our support!
March 11, 2012 - Updated
At 14:46:18 on 11th March 2011, a massive earthquake of magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale struck Japan. This scale of calamity is believed to occur only once every 1,000 years. While the epicenter was located at the bottom of the ocean floor, offshore from the Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture, the earthquake's effects reached Iwate and Ibaraki Prefectures, running 500 km from north to south, and about 200 km from east to west. The giant Tsunami that ensued completely devastated the coastal areas of Northeast Japan.
By February 10th, 2012, 15,848 were confirmed deceased, 3,305 missing. The number of houses destroyed either completely or partially totaled no less than 370,000. To make matters more complicated, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)'s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant was damaged by the natural disaster, releasing massive radioactive material into the environment. Many people in Fukushima, particularly those who lived near the failed power plant, were forced to evacuate from their homes. One year later, residents continue to leave their homes behind, in fear of long-term health effects of the nuclear accident. Survivors have cumulatively lost an estimated 23,600 hectares of farmland and 22,000 fishing boats. Furthermore, many have lost family members, their homes, and their jobs. After losing ties to people and the community they have built up over the years, it is not surprising that some individuals feel isolated and lonely.
In the face of a natural disaster of this magnitude, on March 30th 2012 a number of volunteer organizations, non-profit organizations (NPOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private enterprises established a network called "Japan Civil Network (JCN) for Disaster Relief in East Japan" to support the disaster-affected people. The number of participating organizations has now grown to over 700. While central and municipal governments focus on the recovery of "lifeline infrastructures" such as electricity, water supply, communication, etc. in the affected areas, we are continuing with our efforts to support daily lives of the affected people. Although our supporting activities have progressively changed since the emergency phase, we continue to try to support individual survivors by taking into account their differing circumstances. We have been doing our best to support the affected people by trying to listen, understand and share their feelings of sorrow, despair and indignation. We are trying to build "helping communities", no matter how small, so that we can all assist each other, learn together and connect with each other.
Facing a still uncertain future without jobs or permanent settlement, people are still anxious even a year after the disaster. On this occasion, we renew our commitment to continue working together with the affected people, to support their ingenuity and resilience, to encourage them to have hope, and to reinforce in them the feeling that they are not alone.
We are comprised of many kinds of organizations, each with unique strengths some of us have gained experience with the Kobe Earthquake disaster, others of us are newly-joining organizations who have supported activities for this present disaster. Together, we whole-heartily hope to extend our best possible assistance to the survivors. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Japanese citizens and agencies/citizens around the world for their spiritual, material, and financial assistance in supporting our efforts. We cannot describe how much we were encouraged by your support. We pledge to do our best to collaborate in building local communities where people can have hope and a bright future, so that we can see as many smiling faces of the affected people as possible.
Finally, we would like to thank the affected people for inspiring us with your resilience and allowing us to work with you. We wish you the very best.
March 11, 2012
From all the members of Japan Civil Network (JCN) for Disaster Relief in East Japan
To all the people around the world who supported the relief work for the Great Tohoku Earthquake victims
September 11, 2011 - Updated
At the half-year mark of the Great Tohoku Earthquake that hit Eastern Japan this March, we would like to take the opportunity to express our deepest gratitude for the warm support we received from so many people around the world.
In all its history, Japan had never experienced such a massive earthquake and tsunami. Tens of thousands of precious lives were lost. Those who survived lost loved ones, homes, and jobs, but despite continuing difficult circumstances these survivors are working steadily towards rebuilding their lives. We continue to support the over 600 Japanese NGOs currently working with the survivors within and outside the disaster-stricken areas.
The English proverb "A friend in need is a friend indeed" also has its equivalent in Japanese.
Among the many overseas relief agencies that rushed to Japan during the very early stages of relief operations were those that partnered with local Japanese NGOs and provided them with vital financial assistance. There remain many such agencies that continue to work for longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction in the affected areas. Furthermore, over 1,000 individuals traveled to Japan from abroad to volunteer in the disaster stricken areas. Together with Japanese NGOs, foreign medical teams bravely entered Fukushima at a time when radiation risk levels were still unclear. Messages of encouragement came pouring into Japan from around the world, including countless letters and paintings of encouragement and contributions sent in from thousands of children living in developing countries. In total, Japan has received donations and aid from more than 120 countries and territories worldwide.
Now is the time that people from the affected areas must face the vast challenges of long-term recovery and reconstruction. In particular, radioactive contamination in Fukushima and related consequences have become not only more pressing but also a global issue that must be addressed by all global citizens. Japanese civil society will continue to support the people from the disaster areas; we hope you will join us in this collaborative effort.
Meanwhile, new disasters and conflicts emerge everyday all over the world. In order to repay the goodwill that we have received from around the world this time, we renew our vow to base our aid efforts on our empathy with those who suffer from such calamities.
We hope we can all support one other and continue to cooperate as global citizens living together on the same planet.
Thank you very much for your incredible support and encouragement.
September 11, 2011
From all the members of Japan Civil Network (JCN) for Disaster Relief in the East Japan
We will definitely be with you all in the affected areas
March 14, 2011 - Updated
A message from volunteers.
We offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims who lost their lives in this incredibly rare tragedy. We also express our heartfelt sympathy to all in the difficult circumstances caused by this terrible tsunami and earthquake. We cannot stop thinking how cruel nature can be; it is heartbreaking to imagine how you feel, when you replied "Everything Gone" in an interview.
We realize the situation you are in must be dreadful, and beyond description, much more so than we have heard and seen. We are making every effort to be with you, as soon as possible. We will definitely be with you. We are ready to be at your sides. We will walk this long, difficult path together until our communities have fully recovered.
You have already begun to support each other. Your local officials, as well as policemen, firefighters, members of the Self-Defense Forces and Coast Guard, who have come from all over Japan as a part of the Government forces, are also with you.
We are getting ready to support you, side by side, bearing one message in mind: "Anxiety can cause us to make decisions, while losing sight of the bigger picture. We need to be patient." This was passed on from a Chuetsu Earthquake survivor, through one volunteer, to those at the Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake.
Let us not flinch at the colossal scale of this unprecedented devastation. Let us work together in order to reconstruct the lives of each of those affected by this tsunami and earthquake.
Japan has a wonderful tradition of "otagaisama", let's help each other out, and also has the invaluable spirit of "kizuna", human bond, which is getting known internationally. Now is the time to DO SOMETHING for each of us, with the hope in mind that
"WE WILL BE WITH YOU UNTIL YOU STAND UP AGAIN".
March 14, 2011
Rev. Nobuyuki Kurita, Rescue Stock Yard
Mr. Yoshifumi Tajiri, Japan NPO Center
Dr. Mikiko Yamazaki, Tokyo Voluntary Action Center