Help Tohoku residents access medical care by air

by Civic Force

A Message from Disaster

Two years and eight months have passed since Civic Force started activities to support reconstruction in the disaster-hit areas of northeastern Japan. This section showcases the people who live in theaffected areas and continue positive efforts towards recovery. For this issue, we interviewed Mr.Masayuki Sakai, president of Kesennuma Fukko Inc., whose company takes care of the administrativework of temporary housings in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture.

In September, 2011, after the disaster, I established Kesennuma Fukko Inc. and have been operating variety of businesses such as, reception and distribution of reliefgoods, maintenance of temporary housings, providing services for temporary housing residents, and sales of temporary housings.

Before the disaster, I was a board member of the Chamber of Commerce andIndustry while running a dry cleaners shop in Kesennuma City. For a few months after the disaster, I was engaged in the management of an evacuation center in Kesennuma City where I received and distributed relief goods from members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and acquaintances all over the country. I worked to meet the needs of those taking shelter at places with lesser help byreceiving information gathered through local relationships. Later, I set up Kesennuma Fukko Inc. by request from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, etc. to change the situation of Kesennuma City where reconstruction was not progressing as expected.

One of the roles of our company is to connect the supports that are offered to the disaster-affected areas. Since the disaster, I have continued activities only capable by a local person who knows Kesennuma City from old times, as I saw cases in which appropriate aids were not offered due to lacking knowledge of the area. Now my focus is on“Rental-bin” , a service in which users can rent trucks with a driver on a pay-by-the-hour system. While the needs for maintenance work on temporary housings are decreasing, the needs for moving out from temporary housings will increase going forward. I hope to expand our business irrespective of scope of services and create employment.


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A Message from Disaster

Two years and seven months have passed since Civic Force started activities to support reconstruction indisaster-hit areas of northeastern Japan. This section showcases the people who live in the affected areas andcontinue positive efforts towards recovery. As the 8th person, we interviewed Mr. Hisao Murakami, the owner of“Rakusho” , a Japanese-style pub called “izakaya” , in Sendai city.

Rikuzen-haranomachi Station is the third stop from Sendai Station on theSenseki railway line and after walking 30 seconds, you’ ll reach “Rakusho” , theizakaya I run. My hometown is Kesennuma city, so I offer local food of the Kesennuma region. Some of my customers are from Kesennuma city. When the disaster occurred, the inside of my shop became a mess because of the strongearthquake. But my main concern was my friends in my hometown who were affected by the tsunami. So for two months after the disaster, I kept my izakaya closed todeliver goods and prepare meals while traveling back and forth between Sendai and Kesennuma.

Thanks to the network of my former teammates from the Morioka Chuo HighSchool baseball team, many people including professional baseball players of Rakuten Rakuten Eagles visited to cheer us up. I was also engaged in activities such as holding baseball lessons by professional baseball players and inviting residents of temporary housings to baseball games. Because of the disaster, I gained new acquaintances who came to support us from all over the country including Shizuoka prefecture. While I wished to respond to their warm feelings, there were moments when I also felt people are becoming disconnected from each other due to the disaster.

The recommendations at my izakaya are fresh seafood, Kesennuma-style barbecued pork offal, and local foodsuch as “azara” . I want this shop to be a place where people gather to have a cheerful time and feel positive. Iam hoping to open an izakaya in Kesennuma city as well.

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A massage from Disaster Areas

Two and a half years have passed since the March 11 earthquake. This section showcases the efforts towards recovery by the people living in the affected areas. For this round, we feature Mr. and Mrs. Kikuchi, who run“Tairyo-Maru” (roughly translated as the “good catch boat” ) at the Fukko Yatai Mura, Kesennuma Yokocho, a“temporary mall” for reconstruction in KesennumaCity. The food stall serves traditional fishermen s fare.

We used to run a horumonyaki (barbecued beef and pork offal) restaurant inKesennuma City, before it was washed away by the tsunami. When we were thinking of starting all over again, we happened to find out about the plan for the “temporary mall’ village.” So we started “Tairyo-Maru” in November 2011 along with the opening of the village.

With Masao’ s 30 years of experience working as a chief on a deep sea tuna fishingboat, we serve traditional fishermen’ s fare made with fresh tuna and bonito at ourfood stall. One of our signature dishes, the hoseki-don or “gemstones rice bowl”consists of a rice bowl topped with salmon roe, sea urchin, and fresh shrimp andcosts 3,000 yen each. Some might think it is too expensive a dish to be served at amakeshift food stall, but many customers are satisfied when they tried our dish. We use local ingredients and never compromise on taste. We also providelocal sake, which goes well with our dishes.

Many volunteers from across the nation come to Kesennuma City and drop by our stall. Some people sent us lettersand called us, even after they had left Kesennuma City.

We have to close our stall by the end of November because the period of operations for this mall will end then. Iwant to continue this business for the sake of those who have come and grew to like Kesennuma and our food stall.

We have a dream of starting a guest house in my hometown island of Oshima off the coast of Kesennuma. Likeeveryone else, we need to think about our future. We may not know what the future holds but we will move forward enthusiastically.


Support Required for Child Quake Victims

Two years and five months have passed since the March 11 GreatEast Japan Earthquake. The damage by this unprecedented disasterwas enormous. More than 15,000 people were killed and an estimated290,000 or more are still unable to return to their homes and are put up in temporary housing set up by the government, existing private and public housing, evacuation centres or are living with friends orrelatives. (Source: Reconstruction Agency website)

One of the biggest concerns in the affected areas is the impact ofprolonged life in refuge on children, our bearers of hope for thefuture. Due to the earthquake, many children find it difficult to continue their studies as the finances of their families came understrain: The breadwinners of their families may have died, gonemissing, become injured or ill, or lost their jobs from the disaster.Many families also suffered financial losses from the destruction oftheir homes – Some houses collapsed, were burnt down, or were damaged by the floods. Aside from the decline in their academic achievements, children also suffer from mental and emotional stress.

On the other hand, those children’ s parents are always on edge– Some are overwhelmed with worries about the future, some became sensitive to noises while some are depressed. These problems inevitably affect the children.

According to the 2012 data released by the Ministry of Health,Labour and Welfare, cases of child abuse were on the rise in the disaster areas. To stop the vicious cycle of suffering, more deliberate support is necessary to help tackle the individual problems faced by each victim.

As part of the Mid- to Long-Term Reconstruction Project ofCivic Force, the Dream Support Project was set up in March 2013to provide scholarships and educational programs for high schooland university students affected by the earthquake. As of July2013, 895 scholarships have been given out.

In the summer holiday season of July and August this year, an experiential learning program was organised for scholarship holders in cooperation with local NPOs which have been working with Civic Force in the north-eastern region of Japan. Through discussions with the local NPOs and youths of similar age, the program hopes to broaden the views of the participants and give them strength tolive life to the fullest.

This monthly Report features the three-day exchange program organised by the Japan Forest Biomass Network at the Tenohira niTaiyo no Ie, or House of Sunshine in Your Hand (in short House of Sunshine), a facility that supports children living the Fukushima area.


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Public-private partnership for reconstruction support

  On July 2, the Minister for Reconstruction Takumi Nemoto announced at the 8th meeting of the Reconstruction Promotion Council, which was attended by all cabinet members, that the government will start developing a “Growth Strategy” for the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and a platform for sharing information on job placements and private investment in the field of disaster reconstruction.

  The strategy specifically aims to revitalize the affected areas through creation of sites for centralizing all information on job placements and providing venues where people can seek advice on business management from experts such as financial institutions. There is also a plan to establish a system for dispatching experts from other areas to companies, municipal governments, and commerce and industry associations in the affected areas. The objective of
these plans is to raise the level of reconstruction from “rebuilding” to “growth,” and the key to implementing the plans will be for both the public sector and the private sector to share an awareness of cooperating for the same goal.

Private sector efforts will be a driving force in changing the society

  We envision a society where, in times of disaster, the government (i.e. the public sector) provides existing public services while NPOs, companies and individuals (i.e. the private sector) also contribute towards attaining public benefit; both the public and private sectors, in their respective positions, will actively provide services ranging from emergency relief activities to building new towns in the reconstruction phase. We established Civic Force in the aim of creating such a society, and now we are focusing on supporting those people who are in the affected areas and are independently seeking to start new businesses for reconstruction.

  Our “Mid- to Long-Term Reconstruction Support Projects,” which were launched in the summer of 2012, aim to solve the problems that had existed in the affected areas since before the disaster, such as the decline of the agriculture sector and issues related to the medical care system, which stem from depopulation and ageing of the communities. We have ongoing projects in five fields: “tourism,” “emergency medical service,” “renewable energy,” “town development” and “child support.” These projects take full advantage of our partnerships with NPOs and local governments that were built through our NPO Partner Projects, which were started just after the earthquake.

  This Monthly Report features one of the Mid- to Long-Term Reconstruction Support Projects, in an article that covers the opening ceremony to launch  the “Platform for the Creation of Ria Coast Tourism,” which was established in Kesennuma city, Miyagi Prefecture, and the role Civic Force played in the establishment of the organization.

  The private sector will be a huge driving force for changing the society and leading the way to a new era. Civic Force will continue to work towards creating a system that will maximize such a driving force.


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Organization Information

Civic Force

Location: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo - Japan
Website: http:/​/​​english/​
Project Leader:
Kaori Neki
Tokyo, . Japan

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