The Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake Comes Again

[Original by Hiroshi TANIYAMA, President (12 March 2018); Translated by J. Hills]

Thank you ever so much for your continued support for the Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC).

Seven years have now passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami shocked the world in March 2011.

I express my deepest condolences to those that have lost loved ones as a result of this heart-breaking disaster. And now, with the process of reconstruction still ongoing, I express my immense admiration for those that continue to devote themselves to the enormous task of rebuilding the lives that had been all but destroyed. With the deepest wish that the victims will once again be able to live with peace of mind, I sincerely call for any support and assistance, no matter how small it may be.

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake, JVC has continued to offer its support in the cities of Kesennuma (Miyagi Prefecture) and Minamisoma (Fukushima Prefecture). Prior to the disaster, JVC had not previously had any experience in providing relief support in response to a domestic disaster such as this, and although there was a period of trial and error and adjustment, we have continued to work hand in hand with local residents to this day.

In Kesennuma, JVC has worked hard to support the living conditions of those taking shelter in temporary housing. JVC has strived to promote community-building activities with the focus to create an environment in which those living in temporary housing can depend on each other. JVC has also engaged in activities aimed at maintaining both the physical and mental health of the elderly. Additionally, JVC dispatched a team of advisors (including architects and specialists in city planning) to assist in community-led city planning and housing reconstruction. Today, JVC currently supports efforts led by the local community aimed at regional revitalisation.

Similarly, in Minamisoma, much of JVC’s activities have been aimed at making life in temporary housing more comfortable. In cooperation with local organisations, JVC has been committed to managing salons and has also been involved in the operation of the newly established Minamisoma Disaster FM radio station (Minamisoma Hibari FM). Hibari FM, now operating independently of JVC, plays the fundamental role of delivering a variety of entertainment and information to the people of Minamisoma. Now, with more and more people moving away from temporary housing and into facilities such as disaster recovery public housing, JVC finds itself working in conjunction with residents in community-building to encourage a sense of community.

The Great East Japan Earthquake and consequent Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster have highlighted serious issues that affect not only those living in Japan but also resonate across the world. We live in a world where systems as dangerous and volatile as nuclear power plants are pushed onto rural areas, creating a dynamic whereby cities get to enjoy the rewards without baring any burden or risk, and national reconstruction projects are carried out without taking into consideration the wishes and desires of the people they affect. Although this has been a learning experience that has required much trial and error, by meeting face-to-face with local people we have been able to fight alongside them as they continue to face their daily struggles.

Looking to the future, we hope to identify windows of opportunity through which we can continue to do our best to support the Tohoku region. Even once there ceases to be a need for direct intervention, we will continue to cherish the bonds we have made with the local people and nurture the relationships we have built with their communities. Having gained much invaluable experience and learned many vital lessons through our activities dealing with this disaster, we intend to harness these skills so that they may be put to use in the fields of disaster recovery support and reconstruction in the future.

Thank you once again for your continued support.

Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC)

President, Hiroshi Taniyama

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