Seitaro Kuroda, Rikuzentakata Shopping Street Project
Before the earthquake, Rikuzentakata city in Iwate prefecture, one of the areas where we send Fellows, had a population of 24,246. By the disasters, 1,787 inhabitants died or went missing. In addition, over 1,000 inhabitants have moved out of city after the disaster.
As we have reported in the past report, “Rikuzentakata Shopping Street Project” was launched to build new shopping street using containers and prefabricated building in Rikuzentakata city, with shop owners who suffered devastating damage from the disaster.
Finally, the shopping street held its grand opening in March 2013, two years after the disaster. They aim to rebuild the shopping street as a fun community place to stay for local inhabitants, from children to elderly people. They hold events where local people can gather together—for example, “Kesen morning market”, which has a 300-year-old history in Rikuzentakata.
Mr. Seitaro Kuroda, who had been thinking of working for local revitalization, took part in this project as a Fellow last July. He is in charge of fundraising and PR, and conducted opening events.
*Please check their Facebook page to see latest pictures!
Takuya Yaguchi, Iwaki Organic Cotton Project
Iwaki city in Fukushima prefecture is another area where we send Fellows. Since they accommodated the refugees from the nuclear disaster, their population has increased by 25,000 people. Now the friction between local people and refugees from other area is becoming a serious issue in the city.
“Iwaki Organic Cotton Project” cultivates organic cotton in deserted arable land, and develops products. The project provides opportunities for both local people and refugees to communicating with each other. Through these activities, they try to ease friction in the community while conserving farm land.
Mr. Takuya Yaguchi participated in this project as a Fellow January 2013. His main roles are managing cultivating plan for their 15 farms and planning how to sell their products. He is also promoting collaboration with other organizations in Fukushima prefecture.
*Please check their Facebook page to see latest pictures!
We would like to express our deepest appreciation for your generous supports to our recovery efforts. Almost two years have passed since the earthquake. As a matter of course, people’s memory of the disaster is gradually diminishing. However, thanks to your continuous support we have been able to promote the Fellowship Program steadily.
Since the launch of Fellowship program just after the earthquake, we have selected 127 Fellows from 353 applications and dispatched them to 63 projects led by good recovery leaders. Your support covered stipends and related expenses.
We will continue to explore good leaders, recruit good Fellows and provide various supports to them. Your continuous support would be highly appreciated.
Project example: Community and Livelihood Support Project for damaged residents
Location: Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Pref.Organization: Health and Life Revival Council in Ishinomaki district (RCI)
This project consists of two units: the medical care & health unit and the community & life unit. There are approximately 12,000 households where the residents had once evacuated but then returned to their damaged housings in Ishinomaki city and Onagawa town in Miyagi prefecture. The medical care & health unit has visited each of these households and conducted health and life assessments since October 2012. All the data collected through the assessments are stored in the database that is referred to by the Residence Support Specialists to provide appropriate health cares to each household. The community & life unit works together with the medical care & health unit, other organizations, government, and companies to rebuild the bonds among local community. It supports community recovery and provides relevant information to the victims to restart independent living.
A Fellow Kanako Tsuchiya has worked for the community & life unit since 11/5/2012. She has a major role in coordinating local organizations and community recovery. Her business background as a consultant greatly helps the unit that originally consisted of health-care professionals only to accelerate its project including operational improvements.
In November 2011, eight months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, Naoko Tanesaka joined Rikuzentakata Shopping Street Project as a Fellow to revitalize local shopping street completely destroyed by the tsunami. Rikuzentakata is a seaside town of 24,000 people that lost 48 percent of its homes. More than 1,500 people died.
Local shop owners who lost their premises wanted to restart their business, as a step toward economic and community revitalization. However, when Naoko started to work for the project, utilities such as electricity and water supply had not yet recovered. The local government administrative functions didn’t work effectively and they could not receive subsidies.
Before joining the project, Naoko worked for many store development and renovation projects. Fully utilizing her expertise, she made a large contribution to the restart of the shopping street in February 2012, while building trusting relationships with shop owners and residents. She also supported sales promotion campaigns to attract people both inside and outside of the town.
More than one year has passed since the earthquake. Now, local people can purchase foods and necessities. However, there are a few entertainment opportunities and some people, especially those who are living in temporary housing, have been feeling very depressed. So, Naoko promoted various events where local people can gather and interact with others to revitalize the local community.
Naoko said, “I believe that the most important thing for local people is that they can stand on their own feet again toward sustainable recovery. I will continue to support local shop owners who want to continue their business in this town.”