Updates from Japan Relief Projects

 
$10+ million
Over 50,000
in 111
Aug 13, 2015

52 Months on; Continued to Find Missing Persons

Ochakokai as a tea party
Ochakokai as a tea party

52 Months on; Continued Efforts to Find Missing Persons

Four years and four months passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and efforts to restore crumbled infrastructure including roads and dikes continue in disaster-hit areas. Landscapes have changed accordingly with signs of the damage caused by the earthquake and the tsunami disappeared, leaving less and less traces that reveal the ravage of the disaster.

In the city of Ishinomaki, the worst hit area, as many as 3,453 people lost their lives either directly or indirectly by the disaster and 428 are still missing. Even now the search activities for the missing people are carried out on the 11th of each month.

Combing a vast area for missing persons began this month in Nagatsura district, Ishinomki. The areas situated at the mouth of the Kitakami River, Nagatsura district was inundated due to land sinking subsequent to the earthquake. While the Self-Defense Forces searched the district from boats right after the earthquake, no search activities have been conducted since then. The completion of dike restoration work accelerated the pace of draining the district, and made it possible to conduct full-scale search activities.

The tsunami destroyed dikes and submerged the right section of the Kitakami River’s downstream areas including not only Nagatsura district but Okawa district where a total of 2,489 people of 712 households used to live, killing 382 people including 84 pupils and teachers of Okawa elementary school and leaving 36 people including four pupils missing.

Disaster restoration housing is now ready to receive victims living in temporary quarters, signaling post-quake restoration is rolling forward. In this situation JEN continues helping disaster victims find their way back to normal as soon as they can.

 

Volunteer Work Turns into a New Style: 16th “Let’s go to the sea!”

“Let’s go to the sea!” a project launched in March 2014 as a new style of volunteer work so that you might support disaster stricken areas while enjoying hands-on opportunities in tour around fishing communities, has been hosted by “the executive committee of ‘Let’s go to the sea!’“ composed of locals in the Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture with JEN’s support.

Supporting  the committee become more self-reliant, JEN opted to take only background role in 2015. Pleia Tourism, a non-profit organization established by the students of Ishinomaki Sensyu University, Ishinomaki’s only university, began to take part in hosting the project, young people uniting together with locals to promote the communities in the Oshika Peninsula.

The 16th “Let’s go to the sea!” was held on Saturday 23rd of May and following Sunday. Day 1: Ochakokai, a tea party with the staff members of “Why not stop by Oshika,” a mutual aid organization, at Kyubunhama on the Oshika Peninsula; a visit to eleven headed deity, a national important property. Day 2: fishing experience guided by local fishermen at Sasunohama, participation in the San Juan festival. A lot of plans were worked out at the tour. Participants came from many countries and regions, including, Taiwan, China, Tokyo, Sendai and so on.

The participants were heard to make such comments as “I visited many places, met and talked to various people. I’m really glad to have this opportunity. This tour offered experiences that I can’t have in Tokyo. I had productive two days.”

Just wait for the next framework of “Let’s go to the sea!” is finalized by the committee. The committee will take the initiative in planning and running.

Fishing experience at Sasunohama
Fishing experience at Sasunohama
Aug 7, 2015

Activities in a temporary housing complex in Otsuchi Town, Iwate Prefecture

Massage session
Massage session

It has been over four years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Over 200,000 people live in temporary shelter all around Japan, but mainly in temporary housing complexes in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures (Reconstruction Agency, June 2015). Although the construction of public restoration housing and group relocation for disaster risk reduction have started, the process is expected to take several years. This means that a great number of people are forced to remain in temporary housing complexes for several more years.

This report features AAR Japan’s activities in one of those temporary housing complexes, located in Otsuchi Town, Iwate Prefecture. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook Otsuchi Town, and soon after, a major tsunami triggered by the massive tremor engulfed the town. This led to major destruction in the east coast of Otsuchi Town. The dead and missing combined counted up to 1,285 people, equivalent to eight percent of the town’s population. Furthermore, 3,878 houses, approximately 60 percent of all houses in the town, were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami. This forced many disaster survivors to live in inconvenient temporary housing complexes until today.

AAR Japan has visited the Otsuchi temporary housing complex regularly to care for the residents’ physical and psychological health. This complex accommodates 40 families. In some areas with faster reconstruction pace, the proportion of people who remain in temporary housing complexes have dropped to 30 to 40 percent after relocation to public permanent housing and individual houses. However, the reconstruction has been extremely slow in Otsuchi Town, and in, none of the residents in the Otsuchi temporary housing complex has been able to settle in permanent housing. Unfortunately, they have no choice but to stay in the complex for several more years.

Our activity for these residents suffering from prolonged evacuation includes massage therapy and active listening. On June 13th, 2015, AAR Japan carried out team consisting of a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a counselor and AAR Japan staff, visited the complex to provide massages and recreational event called Ochakko. Ochakko is a tradition in Tohoku Region, where a group of friends get together and enjoy conversation over tea. On this occasion, ten residents participated. Everyone had been waiting for the event with much anticipation.

The prolonged life in the temporary housing complex has taken a toll on physical and psychological health of many residents. Living in the cramped temporary houses with nowhere to go has significantly decreased the amount of daily exercise. The lack of exercise has caused deterioration in back pains, knee pains and obesity. Lifestyle diseases have also been a problem. For them, massage alleviates much of physical pain. AAR Japan’s massages are carried out by physiotherapists and occupational therapists to ensure that the participants can receive proper treatment. Positive feedback has come from the participants including, “My body feels much lighter after the massage”, “I would like to follow the advice on daily exercise that I received from the therapist.” and “I can’t wait for the next event.”

Whilst the participants wait for their turn for massage, they enjoy conversation over tea and refreshments, which is another component of the activity called Ochakko. Some people in temporary housing complexes have lost their family to the disaster or are forced to live far away from friends. Under such circumstances, the residents become isolated, and have few opportunities to socialize with others and to relieve their stress through turning to someone for advice. Ochakko gives such people an opportunity to share their problems and concerns for the future with others. Some of the residents confide their worries to AAR Japan’s counselor. This activity has promoted alleviation of stress and anxiety, as well as enhancement of self-esteem among the temporary housing residents.

During the Ochakko, one of the participants talked about his road leading to his present state. “I lost my house to the tsunami. For a short while, I lived with my son and his family in Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture. I lived with them for about eight months, but it didn’t take me too long to realize that younger generations have different values and way of thinking from me. I’m grateful for all that they did for me, but I decided to relocate to the Otsuchi temporary housing complex.” He continued sorrowfully, “Every morning I wake up weary and heavy headed. Such feelings fade away a little after exercising. Every day I walk for about 30 minutes for my own good. AAR Japan’s therapists help me stretch out my stiff body. I even get advice about light exercises I can do on my own. I really appreciate it. Come again any time.” AAR Japan will continue to visit them regularly and provide them with much-needed physical and psychological care.

The therapists give advice on exercise
The therapists give advice on exercise
Ochakko session
Ochakko session
Jul 20, 2015

Still Extremely Difficult to Plan Anything

Isatomae Fukko Shopping Arcade (IFSA)
Isatomae Fukko Shopping Arcade (IFSA)

The Isatomae Fukko Shopping Arcade (IFSA) is working very hard to organize attractions to bring visitors there. They seem to be succeeding in attracting a large number of people to events, especially during the summer. Some of scheduled events are “Japanese Ice Fish
Festival,” “Azalea Festival,” and “International Friendship Festival” in May, “Righteye Flounder Fishing Festival” and “Night Shops” in June, “Work Experience Opportunities for Junior High Students,” “Mini-soccer Day,” “Live Band Play,” “Decorated Cars,” and “Utatsu Summer Festival” in June, “Everybody’s Festival,” “Tour de Tohoku 2015” in September, “Mishima Shrine Festival,” “Kesema Oshima Shrine Festival” in October, “Abalone Festival” in December, “Senior High Futsal Festival” in January 2016 and “Junior High Futsal Festival” in February, and “Spring Wakame Festival” in March. People in IFSA are working extremely hard to bring people from outside to keep their business going.     

Governmental regulations related to an emergency situation in a disaster-stricken area were temporarily suspended to facilitate quick recovery and redevelopment. But now, before redevelopment is completed, the government started stopping the suspension and tightening up regulations. This change clearly started influencing the moving schedule of the IFSA. It was supposed to move to a temporary place in August 2015. Although an elevated land for a temporary location was completed, due to governmental document clearance, IFSA still needs to wait for a few months until November 2015. People in IFSA even found that electric poles moved from an old road to a new one even require governmental document clearance, possibly further delaying the schedule of move. Now, the Prefectural Government is requesting the Central Government to allow some exceptions to the regulations, especially when changes are only for a temporary location used until December 2016. Although IFSA people are used to this type of delay, they are disappointed because they just cannot follow their own plan.  

This type of delay is making people impatient even for their houses. A mountain was flattened for public housing areas, and the Minami-sanriku-town Government asked who would like to move in. Previously fifty houses were planned, but now the number was reduced to 45. One piece of land for a house is about 330 m2, costing about 3.52 million yen, which is rather inexpensive. But a new house has to be built with only 2 million yen subsidy and the rest self-financed. Besides, due to a huge demand for construction, the cost of house building is rising extremely high. Now, construction companies from the Tokyo area are taking a significant portion of orders with a fairly high price. Local carpenters can construct much more inexpensively, though they can construct only up to five houses per year, requiring a new customer to wait for four or five years before a house is completed. Most of local money is now sucked up by Tokyo construction companies. Some present shop owners at IFSA are planning to operate their business from their houses. But unfortunately, in December 2016 they may not have their houses ready for both living and conducting their businesses. Some people without sufficient saving or with remaining debt, just cannot plan to move forward in their lives.

In the previous report, I reported that the 7-11 Convenience Store will take over a half of the space in the Final Shopping place. Because of their ATM operation, a local bank and even a post office are hesitating to move into the Final Sopping place. Again a monopolistic situation of a Tokyo company is reducing options previously very familiar to local people. Post-disaster struggles and frustration still continue without the end of tunnel in sight.  

Elevated Land for Temporary Shop
Elevated Land for Temporary Shop

Links:

Jun 26, 2015

Updates on Support high school students in Tohoku

Dear Global Giving Supporters,

 

AMDA has been supporting the high school students living in Tohoku Region, where the number of lives has been impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on 11 March 2011. AMDA has provided the scholarship to 281 students in the past 4 years. As the new Japanese fiscal year started in April 2015, we added 8 news scholarship students to our program. We received a letter of appreciation from one of our scholarship students. Please see the attached progress report.

 

Thank you very much for your warm supports to our scholarship program. Your continuous support would be highly appreciated.


Attachments:
Jun 4, 2015

Update from Tohoku:"Please Don't Forget"

Tohoku Project
Tohoku Project

Dear Supporters,

  Every time we bring volunteers to Tohoku, the local residents always say “please come back” and “please don’t forget”.  Thank you very much for your continued generous support which makes it possible for us to continue bringing volunteers to Tohoku and, in doing so, to continue reassuring the local residents who are still trying to rebuild their lives that they have not been forgotten.

 

  In March volunteers from BNP Paribas helped plant baby rose bushes at a children’s home in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture for children who are unable to live with their families. This project teaches the children the joy of gardening and encourages Okada-san who used to have a large rose garden in Fukushima before the nuclear accident forced him to evacuate four years ago. Okada-san relocated to Tsukuba after the Triple Disaster and greatly missed his hometown and beloved rose garden. After hearing his story, we suggested to Okada-san that he work with Hands On Tokyo volunteers and children living at this home to plant a new rose garden for future generations to enjoy. The volunteers, the children and Okada-san worked side-by-side to plant the baby rose bushes. It was very special seeing so many generations working together and inspiring one another. We hope that, by participating in this project, the children will want to participate in other volunteer activities throughout their lives.

 

   Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. They cannot do all the labor-intensive work by themselves. They need the continued support of volunteers. With your generous contributions, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture -- which is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice, strawberries and apples. Prior to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Yamamoto-cho area was famous for its delicious strawberries. During our recent volunteer trips to Yamamoto-cho, it has been very encouraging to see a large number of new hot houses where local farmers are once again growing strawberries. Hands On Tokyo volunteers were very lucky to taste some of these very sweet strawberries.  We encourage you to buy strawberries from this region when you see them at your local supermarket.

 

  On March 18th, Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped the New Rice Center by gathering and bagging dried rice plant stalks which were scattered across a large rice paddy when a typhoon passed over the area,  making it impossible for local farmers to use that rice paddy. The New Rice Center will now be able to use that rice paddy to grow rice this season. On  April 12th, Hands On Tokyo volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Great Tokyo Area, helped the New Rice Center by spreading the dried rice plant stalks over a large field to help fertilize the ground for this year’s vegetable crops. The volunteers also helped Saito-san and his wife by clearing other fields in preparation for this year’s growing season.  

 

  It is hard to imagine how long it would take local farmers to prepare for this year’s growing season without the support of volunteers. We will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the New Rice Center and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.   

  In March, Hands On Tokyo volunteers also repainted the stairs and outside deck of the O-Link House in Ogatsu-cho (which is part of Ishinomaki City). The O-Link House is the community house which was built in Ogatsu-cho with the help of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the US-Japan Council and your generous donations. The O-Link House now plays an important role in keeping the local community connected while those from the Ogatsu area are still waiting to rebuild their homes in Ogatsu-cho. We will continue to organize volunteer trips to Ogatsu-cho to help further maintain this community house.

 

  In April volunteers from Moody’s Japan participated in a “Baking for Tohoku” Project that Hands on Tokyo organized and they baked lots of heart-shaped sugar cookies for Hands on Tokyo to bring to a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho so that Hands on Tokyo volunteers could decorate the cookies with the temporary housing residents. They also did a beautiful job decorating some of the cookies and making goodie bags for Hands on Tokyo volunteers to distribute to the temporary housing residents. Later in April, Hands on Tokyo volunteers held a café at a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho and made yakisoba (a popular nostalgic comfort food in Japan) and French toast, grilled sausages and served hot drinks and sweets. After lunch, Hands on Tokyo volunteers decorated the sugar cookies with colorful icing and sprinkles with the temporary housing residents. One of the residents impressed the volunteers by skillfully painting Mt. Fuji on one of his sugar cookies. It was wonderful seeing multiple generations enjoying time together decorating the cookies and creating new memories. Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing residents. So long as people are still living in temporary housing, we will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  

 

None of this would be possible without your generous support. 

 

  In April, Hands on Tokyo also held a spring concert in Tokyo which raised JPY 600,000 for our Tohoku Projects. Over 200 people attended the concert and enjoyed dynamic performances by the Miyabi Arashi Taiko Group, Sawaka Katalyna and her piano accompanist, Maki Furugaki, and the award winning St. Mary’s International School Varsity Ensemble. The Master of Ceremonies was StuartO who regularly appears on a variety of Japanese TV programs and is a bilingual voice over artist. Members of the Hands on Tokyo Teen Advisory Board also held a bake sale at the concert, all of the proceeds of which were contributed to help fund future Tohoku Projects. It was wonderful seeing so many people from the local Tokyo community coming together in support of Tohoku and recognizing that there is still so much to be done in Tohoku.

 

  Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku. We are actively looking for more ways for those living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in our Tohoku projects and for new ways for Hands On Tokyo volunteers to provide support to local Tohoku families and businesses.

Tohoku Project 2
Tohoku Project 2
May 19, 2015

Volunteers Mix with Locals in Disaster-Stricken Areas

Children painting on playground equipment
Children painting on playground equipment

JEN has been involved in a wide range of activities including helping victims make a living and restoring their communities since the immediate disaster of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture. Our activities to restore communities were conducted mainly in the Ohara district located in the center of the Oshika peninsula.

Two-thirds of the district was left homeless by the tsunami, forcing them to live in shelters, while the other third was able to retain their houses. As a result, the difference in living conditions drove the two sides even further. However, the difference was overcome by the united efforts of local people to resume their traditional festivities and to settle in a higher ground together.

On March 29, about forty volunteers from inside and outside of the district participated in housecleaning for the Ohara Community Center and other facilities. Although the center was affected by the tsunami, it has been restored by volunteers across the country. The center has also provided free accommodation for volunteers in the peninsula, where no other accommodations were available after the disaster. Although the local authorities have planned to demolish the center, it still serves as a vital space for the community to maintain connections among people since no alternative spaces have been constructed.

The participants were divided into three groups to share the cleaning work: the Ohara Community Center; a conversation lounge attached to temporary quarters; other places including a park; small library, and bus station. The first group was assigned to the Ohara Community Center and provided thorough cleanings including neglected places, airing out tatamis and bedding, cleaning overhead lights and swabbing floors, and wiping windows and screens. In the end, the center was so transformed that the locals hardly recognized it, one of them saying “Did we have this bright a room?” The second group worked on fixing fences and painting walls and playground equipment, while the third group cleaned air conditioners, fans, and windows. After completing their assignment, both groups prepared “Okuzukake”, an Ishinomaki specialty dressed in a sauce made from arrowroot starch, for lunch with the help from women taking shelters in temporary quarters.

The volunteers and the locals had cheerful conversations over lunch, enjoying rice balls, “Okuzukake”, and marinated wakame seaweed. According to the impression by a volunteer, “Having contact with [JEN], I’ve realized that because [JEN has] the mentality to cherish a spirit of mutual assistance that can be positive even in tough living conditions.” A word of thanks from the locals was that, due to the help from volunteers, they were able to face difficulties after the disaster, and they were very happy to see the volunteers again. The day’s activity was over after the participants shook hands with each other. At the end of the activity, the locals said “Come visit us again!”

 

Parks Completed: Children’s Society to Restart

On December 7 last year JEN completed rebuilding two ravaged parks attached to the housing areas in Kamikama district located in the southwest of Ishinomaki city. The aim of the project was to rebuild parks that will help the recovery of the children’s associations.

The project reached its completion after a range of efforts were made to help recover children’s association starting with a planning session with the locals. Events to strengthen community ties at the park under reconstruction work included mowing grass and exercising together in the morning to instructions on the radio. (Japanese school children have a custom of gathering in a park in the morning on their summer break to do exercise while listening to instructions and musical accompaniment on a radio broadcast)

On the day of the ceremony to celebrate the park’s completion, JEN had the children put finishing touches to the park such as assembling benches, painting fences and planting plants and flowers, so that the children could use the park as their “self-made park” for years to come. The children were jumping up and down with joy upon the completion of the park.

JEN interviewed a few children after the two parks were built, and we got the following feedback: “I use to play inside the house, but now I play outside for longer time than before.”; “I’m happy because I can play with my friends in the park.” We now see children playing as well as elderly people socializing and enjoying the scenery around them. Hence, the park has become a place where people of all age groups within the local communities can relax. The completion of the parks has given momentum to the locals’ efforts to restart “children’s association”. In early February, a conference organized by the children’s association was held for the first time since the earthquake, where community members took the lead in forming groups, planning events and so on.

This year on February 22, a local event was hosted by “the children’s organization” for the first time since the earthquake. The event featured duty as well as pleasure; participants made planters for the coming spring, and then enjoyed pounding mochi (rice-cake). Children performed Soran dance  in happi (a festival costume), gifted to the children’s association by JEN. One of the participants said, “We must take good care of happi in order to make use of it in our future activities.”

One could see the participants gathered around the children’s vigorous performance, smiling and cheering. It indeed was an event that was enjoyed by the participants and the audience. Thanks to the completion of park rebuilding, the children’s association restarted its activities. We hope it continues its activities in conjunction with local communities in the Kamikama district. JEN will continue its efforts to support developing local communities so that one day JEN finish its assistance, the local community could continue its activities on their own to provide comfortable and safe environment for children.

Soran dance in happi
Soran dance in happi
Pounding mochi
Pounding mochi
May 11, 2015

The 4th Children's Festival in Takami Park, Fukushima Prefecture

Carp streamers for the Children
Carp streamers for the Children's Day

May 5th is Children’s Day, a national holiday in Japan. This year, AAR Japan, in collaboration with an NPO called Peace Project, held Children’s Festival at Takami Park in Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture. The event aimed at supporting leisure for families with children in Soma and Minamisoma Cities, and attracted more than 500 people.

We put up colorful carp streamers in the park, which is a tradition for Children’s Day to pray for children’s success and health. We also brought mini-bowling, mini-golf, ring toss, bouncy-ball scooping, and balloon playground to the park, which were extremely popular among the participating children. Under beautiful spring weather, children’s joyous laughter echoed throughout the day. 

Mr. and Mrs. Yoshida brought her grandson to the event. They kindly accepted to be interviewed about their family and experience at the event. The couple used to work as farmers, growing cucumbers and garland chrysanthemum,in Odaka District, Minamisoma City, which is 17 kilometers away from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. After the earthquake and nuclear accident, however, they were forced to abandon their home and agricultural land. They now live in a temporary housing complex in Kashima District, Minamisoma City, away from their daughter and grandson. “Our daughter is a single mother, and lives with this boy in Soma City. Even on national holidays, she has to work”, Mrs. Yoshida said. “She brought the event flyer to us, and we decided to come with our grandson. Our age makes it difficult to take our grandson to beach or mountain, but this kind of event is very accessible. We appreciate such an opportunity.”

As for the future prospects, the couple wants to leave the temporary housing complex in April, 2016. However, uncertainty and anxiety linger. Farming is extremely difficult to resume once interrupted. In addition, agricultural and fishery products are hit hard by rumors about radiation, and the rumors do not seem to fade away. They occasionally go back to their home in Odaka District to clean and repair.

After the interview, Mr. and Mrs. Yoshida and their grandson enjoyed the event throughout the day, eating fried-noodles and ball konjac, which AAR Japan offered at the event for free. The grandson also had fun playing in the balloon playground, and with mini-bowling and bingo. At the end of the day, Mr. Yoshida told us, “If there are more of these kinds of events, children can make a lot of good memories in Fukushima. Even when they go out of the prefecture in the future, they can reminisce about their home with full of wonderful memories. Thank you!”

Many families in Minamisoma City are forced to live apart due to the nuclear accident, as seen in the case of the Yoshida family, and as a result they face immense challenges. A number of participants told us events for families with children are much appreciated and they hope for such events in the future. 

AAR staff preparing fried noodles for 300 people
AAR staff preparing fried noodles for 300 people
1,000 ball konjac sticks
1,000 ball konjac sticks
The Yoshida family enjoying mini-bowling
The Yoshida family enjoying mini-bowling
Balloon playground was particularly popular
Balloon playground was particularly popular
Many participants enjoyed the event
Many participants enjoyed the event
Apr 21, 2015

Two Good News, But Also Very Sad News

Isatomae Fukko Shopping Arcade
Isatomae Fukko Shopping Arcade

One good news is that the Isatomae Fukko Shopping Arcade (IFSA) now has a clear schedule of moves to a temporary place (in August 2015) and also to the final place (December 2016). Now, people there started seeing the long-waited end of a tunnel..

The other good news is that a support by a labor union of a company mediated by the DSIA may come to be soon finalized. Three people from the labor union came to discuss with the Head of the IFSA, and proposed to sell some of seasonable commodities to about 6,000 full- and part-time union members. For special events organized by the IFSA, union members can voluntary come to not only help their events, but also participate in events. The labor union also offered to purchase a winner’s cup and medals for a football competition among eight grade school teams in the area. They even offered to give discount tickets to all participants to purchase their food sold by dispatched kitchen cars from the company. They are now trying to work out the details.

One very sad news is that the Head of the IFSA was refused to move into the final Arcade to be started in December 2016. He was the one the DSIA negotiated for establishing a temporary shop tent in 2011, has been the key representative of local organizations to receive GlobalGiving donations, and is now trying to organize a system of support to be provided by the labor union mediated by the DSIA. He is the present head of the IFSA, has organized many events to bring tourists, and has been negotiating with the city government for reconstruction. He has been truly devoting to the development of the Isatomae Community.  

Why did this happen? In the next month, a new company, which manages shopping arcades in both Sizugawa and Isatomae, will be established. Since the preparatory committee of the company is trying to prevent the future bankruptcy of the company, they developed very strict standards. Their goal is to prepare for the company’s sustainability of the next twenty years. This sounds a very good idea. But the committee asked consultants from Tokyo to evaluate the businesses of all members, and decided that members not having a prospect of survival for the next ten years will not be allowed to move into arcades, even if they have money and wish to join. Since the IFSA Head is operating a clothing and sport goods shop, consultants informed him of future market prediction, which will clearly decline due to shrinking children population. Their prediction turned out to be that he may do well for the next five years, especially due to the reconstruction of the area, but after that, it may become fairly difficult to continue his business. To me, what is taking place now is quite wrong. One reason is because nobody can decide to exit from one’s business other than those who operate businesses themselves. The other reason is that he has been diversifying into a few other businesses just recently which is not yet becoming big. But in many rural areas, it is very common to operate several small businesses to generate some decent revenues. Since I lived in a remote area in Niigata, I saw some companies expanding their businesses frequently through diversification. In a sense, he can dynamically cope with changes in the market as he faces environmental changes. Tokyo consultants treat the situation of each member very statically, and do not see evolutionary potentials. I personally feel that such decision should be left to the initiatives of individual members whether one is to take a risk or not and that the market will come to pressure individuals to make their decisions.

In order to keep the stability of this arcade company, this company is to invite a Tokyo-based convenience store. I am in favor of bringing it to the arcade, as long as they work to help local economy develop rather than simply sucking up the business opportunities of the local. How can it be done? This is clearly another difficult area, since it is far less costly to bring everything from what has been mass produced in other areas. A less populated area will not succeed in generating its economic dynamics without the base of community support and movements. People in Isatomae may end up facing much tougher situations than before if the community disintegrates. Some people criticize some types of consultants for their motives to make money from government subsidies with little interest in helping community development, though how to develop a less-populated area is a difficult issue and a central issue discussed presently in Japan.

The temporary shop tent still used as a storage
The temporary shop tent still used as a storage

Links:

The north coast of Japan was hit by a horrible tsunami after an 9.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred 80 miles offshore. The largest earthquake to strike Japan on record, millions of people have been affected by this massive disaster.

Through our network of project partners, who pass GlobalGiving's rigorous due diligence process, issues as diverse as immediate relief and animal safety are being addressed. The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund is composed of a subset of the projects featured on this page as well as other Japanese NGOs. To see updates on how the funds have been used please see the Fund Reports Tab. Alternatively, you may choose to support the efforts of a specific organization.

About Us

GlobalGiving is an online marketplace that connects you to the causes and countries you care about. You select the projects you want to support, make a tax-deductible contribution, and get regular progress updates – so you can see your impact.

Impact To Date

  • $191.5 million in donations since 2002
  • 12,700 projects have received funding
  • 479,300 donors have given