Why Japan STILL Needs Our Help
Many people are under the mistaken impression that conditions since the Great East Japan / Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami have improved to the point that there is no longer a crisis. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The international news media that first brought Japan’s tragic events of March 11, 2011 to the attention of the world has long since gone home, while many in Japan no longer have homes – and yet need our assistance, and will – for many years to come.
And while large NGOs have done great work in post-earthquake and tsunami Japan; they, too have moved on to focus on other world crises.
Here are some of ‘Letters’ Author, Anne Thomas’ recent observations about the ongoing crisis:
All of Fukushima Prefecture is suffering, more deeply than anywhere else in the earthquake-tsunami affected areas. Fukushima’s reputation, now worldwide, is in total disarray. And that is having enormous consequences in that visually magnificent, rural prefecture. Not only is there a “no go zone” around the nuclear plant, but business in general is terrible. No one wants to buy anything produced by the farmers or caught by the fishermen there. Thousands of people have left, some going as far as Hawaii, or to distant places in Japan – and that means many schools and businesses have been greatly reduced or closed. The prefecture itself is out of money; and the clean up work is far from over. In fact, it will be years before even the uncontaminated regions get back on their feet. And the radioactive areas will need far longer, even generations.”
One of Anne’s friends, Tanaka Tsuneo Sensei, who is a Japanese oceanographer now living in France recently came back to Japan to visit. Here are some of his impressions:
I stayed 2 weeks in Japan, mainly at my parents place in Yokohama. I also took a short visit to a marine station in Miyagi. They accommodated me with smile, but I felt a sort of fatigue / fretfulness / stress from them… it may be better to be alive… but what they need is ‘a usual life’… as they had before 11 March, 2011…
The psychological toll all this is taking indeed runs very deep. In fact, in many places “kodoku-shi”, or death from loneliness is on the rise. This is particularly true in temporary housing sites, where people may have been settled away from those they know. Japan is a communal society, so loneliness is paramount to suicide…
The job market here is still depressed. Government unemployment benefits will end in February. No one knows what will happen then…
The housing situation is another huge problem. People cannot return to the site of their former homes to start rebuilding until they get government approval. That may take as long as two years. Some people are trying to rebuild elsewhere, but there is the problem of infrastructure.
There are many homeless in parks and underground passageways. The temperatures are freezing, even in the daytime… There is a combined sense of waiting to see what is going to happen and of deep psychological exhaustion.
– Tanaka Tsuneo Sensei
We hope this perspective explains why Japan is yet in dire need of your help. Thank you.