Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake
The Current Situation in the Disaster-Affected Area of East Japan
Considering the situation that the evacuation orders continued to be lifted for many areas of Fukushima such as Iitate and Namie, new challenges arising from the lifting of the evacuation orders became apparent, and delays were foreseen in Fukushima's extremely difficult recovery process. In fiscal year 2016, JAPAN PLATFORM (JPF) fully implemented our strategy for "Strengthened Aid to Fukushima" as set forth in November 2015, and decided to continue aid to Fukushima at least until the end of fiscal year 2018, while much of the aid projects to Fukushima Prefecture continued to decrease.
Evacuees from areas affected by the nuclear accident face a difficult decision when evacuation orders for those areas are lifted. Should they return to the area, or should they rebuild their lives in the places to which they evacuated? If they stay, and choose not to return, the housing subsidies and compensation they were receiving will be discontinued. Even after evacuation orders are lifted, mothers cannot hide their anxiety, returning elderly people will find hospitals, pharmacies and transportation infrastructure are poorly maintained, community has weakened, and they grow increasingly isolated. Almost seven years after the earthquake, the hard reality in Fukushima is that less than 20% have returned in approximately 70% of the areas for which evacuation orders have been lifted, and more than 70% of those returned are elderly. With this in mind, JPF is working to strengthen aid to Fukushima by advocating five top-priority activities (see below).
On the other hand, in both Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures, recovery is gradually coming within sight, thanks to all of the warm support we have received both from businesses/employees and from individuals. However, specific challenges remain, such as life-threatening poverty, and delays in consensus-building among residents in certain areas. We will draw on local resources to continue aid for these specific challenges and areas.
JPF has cultivated the function of supporting the activities and organizational management of its allied organizations in our overseas aid work. Utilizing these experiences, we are transferring our intermediary function to local intermediary aid organizations in Tohoku: the Iwate Recovery Collaboration Center; the Sanaburi Foundation in Miyagi prefecture; and Miyagi Recovery Collaboration Center. In Fukushima, JPF will continue to strengthen the collaboration with local intermediary organizations including the Fukushima Recovery Collaboration Center.
The Recovery Situation in Each Prefecture
Reports from the Recovery Collaboration Centers in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima
In Iwate, construction of public disaster housing in coastal regions is 80% complete. As the relocation from temporary housing accelerates and temporary housing is consolidated, new issues have arisen: how to support those who cannot relocate due to financial or health conditions; and how to form new communities in the relocation sites situated on higher spots far from the seashore and remote from their original place of residence. As part of these relocations, horizontal development will be needed to transfer the aid knowhow of the coastal region to aid organizations working inland.
In 2016, the first year of the" Period of Recovery and Creation," the restoration of infrastructure in the disaster-affected area has moved forward, and housing reconstruction is in full swing. In order to rebuild communities in the disaster-affected area, municipal aid for community formation and mutual support networks are particularly necessary in public disaster housing, and there is a need to train leaders for these activities. However, collaboration with municipalities and non-profits in charge of aid, and with businesses and universities, is still insufficient. Promotion of collaboration that ties together diverse sectors is indispensable. For the forming of sustainable and autonomous communities, there is a pressing need for aid to train staff in intermediary aid organizations and for aid to strengthen organizational foundations, including through fundraising.
In fiscal year 2016, evacuation orders were lifted one after another all around the prefecture. With the addition of Tomioka, where the evacuation order was lifted on April 1, 2017, it is possible for people to live in almost all areas, except for designated" Difficult-to-return zone." However, the number of returnees is limited because of factors such as uneasiness to leave the communities they have diligently adjusted as evacuees for the long seven years, and delays in improvements to infrastructure. Thus, local communities are projected to continue to fracture. Moreover, as programs like free provision of housing are discontinued and the amount of aid decreases, the future of aid remains uncertain due to factors like the fragmentation of aid needs. The lifting of evacuation orders is a factor propelling recovery, but it also gives rise to new challenges that will be difficult to face.
About "Living Together" Fund
Wide-Ranging Support Through Aid in Four Fields
JAPAN PLATFORM (JPF) established the" Living Together" Fund in April 2011, and started invitation for applications in May. Through quarterly offerings each year, it has distributed financial assistance to organizations aiding victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The fund exposes local aid needs, and is applied to a wide range of aid in four key aid areas (community aid, safety-net aid, occupational aid, and coordination aid). The fund not only supports independent local activities, but also carefully determines the phases of recovery, giving support that will take root locally and connecting activities with the next steps in recovery.
This type of aid creates community by building connections among residents, helping recovery through the provision of places where members of the community can gather and through the process ofworking together.
This type of aid gives disaster victims the security to lead healthy lives by providing aid to people or domains of activity which is not yet covered by the government program.
This type of aid helps a secure life for disaster victims through activities and information-sharing which lead to jobs and income for those who lost their jobs in the disaster.
This type of aid helps to support the coordination of aid with government entities, NGOs, NPOs and other organizations so that safety-net aid, community aid, and occupational aid can proceed efficiently.
NGO's Project : Shinsei (NPO in Fukushima)
Implementing Projects like"Polvorón Magic Cookies"and "Sewing Machine School"
Shinsei works in Koriyama, Fukushima to help people with disabilities who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake to live peaceful and safe lives. The damage that Fukushima Prefecture suffered from the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster was so great that it was impossible for one person, one group, or one organization to meet the challenge. Faced with this situation, welfare workplaces for evacuees with disabilities were quick to join together to create work opportunities through a cooperative system incorporating outside aid. Shinsei serves as the director of this system and carries out projects such as "Polvorón Magic Cookies" and "Sewing Machine School" while connecting businesses and NGOs/NPOs to disaster-affected areas. It also provides support to deepen understanding of disabilities among people who want to use welfare services after being evacuated.
Voice from the Field
One of the lessons that people with disabilities in Fukushima Prefecture learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident was about job creation for people with disabilities during the recovery period. For a long time, although people returned to the center, it was difficult to reopen and run welfare centers at evacuation sites due to cash shortage in paying wages when there was no work. Using the wisdom gained by Fukushima Prefecture as it came through this experience, we will do our best to ensure that people with disabilities, who are also a part of our society, can work together with other members of the community in order to accelerate the recovery process.
Two hours and forty-six minutes after the Great Earthquake hit East Japan on March 11, 2011, JPF made a decision to launch relief operation: JPF dispatched its staff to the disaster stricken areas for initial assessments and JPF-registered member NGOs sent out emergency relief assistance teams.
In the same month, JPF opened Tohoku/East Japan regional office in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture to respond to the changing needs in the affected areas. In May 2011, recognizing the needs to fund not only JPF-registered NGOs but also non-member local civil organizations, JPF established a new fund scheme named Tomoni Ikiru (Stand by Together) Fund. As of January 2016, 160 nonprofit organizations carried out 319 assistance programs through this fund to help the disaster survivors.
JPF's role in recovery is not limited to funding. JPF's staff members are stationing in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures to advise and support local civil organizations and to build regional cooperative networks of public and civil actors in information sharing and coordination of reconstruction activities. Another important role of JPF comes from its close contacts with business entities: providing corporate partners with updated information on issues and needs of the disaster affected areas and encouraging them to support the disaster survivors and the affected areas.
JPF continues to talk and walk together with the disaster survivors and sees to it that the governmental, public and civil partners collaborate in extending needs-based and cost-effective reconstruction and rehabilitation activities and that the disaster survivors shall stand on their own feet.
Aid to Victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake FY2014 Report (PDF 6.5MB)
Aid to Victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake FY2015 Report (PDF 3.76MB)
Aid to Victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake FY2016 Report (PDF 3.16MB)