Japan: An emergency grant helped the church support survivors of the 2011 tsunami (Report from 2014)
Since the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on 11 March 2011, the Anglican Church in Japan has been supporting local communities and campaigning for a safer environment, writes Makiko Fukuzawa, of Tohoku Diocese, Japan.
Today, approximately 280,000 tsunami survivors are still living in temporary housing and, due to a limited availability of land, few communities have been able to make plans for rebuilding.
Many families were forced to leave their homes due to the threat of radioactive contamination caused by damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
The survivors are effectively refugees. Most already belonged to vulnerable and impoverished communities, and these communities largely remain invisible and forgotten by the rest of Japanese society.
But the church has not forgotten. On 11th of each month, Br Michel Matsumoto and his staff at St John’s Church, Isoyama, accompany local people and visitors on a tour of affected areas, offering prayers (pictured).
Standing and walking alongside vulnerable communities
How else can we stand and walk with these vulnerable people so badly affected by the disaster? Early on, the Anglican Church found it was essential to exchange information and keep channels of communication open, including regular face to face meetings.
In the area where the tsunami was most strongly felt, the church continues to support communities through local parishes.
In Shinchi village, for example, the church is supporting eight temporary housing communities. These are people who have lost everything: possessions, jobs, and many simple things that formerly brought happiness.
In the Hirohata temporary housing community, a woman’s group started a handicraft project, weaving coasters by hand.
The coasters are sold to raise income for tsunami-affected communities, as well as serving as a reminder of the plight of survivors.
Handicraft projects have been taken up in other villages; one woman’s group has been knitting ‘strawberry charms’.
Day by day, stitch by stitch, these groups of women are bringing a little hope into their lives. Every purchase encourages, supports and brings back purpose to people and communities.
As a national church, the Anglican Church is also focusing on the impact of the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Families in the area are living in fear of radiation poisoning. Workers inside the power plant face difficult conditions. And, along the coast, all God’s creatures have been affected.
In May 2012, the church resolved to work ‘for a world without nuclear power plants’, stating that ‘the Anglican/Episcopal Church in Japan is opposed to a nuclear power generation’.
We recognise this is a long road to travel, but we walk in faith with Jesus Christ. Please pray, remembering all those in the area of devastation.
Update three years on: Report from the church in Japan
Three years since the Japanese tsunami, affected communities continue to face hardships.
Approximately 280,000 people are still living in temporary housing, while, on the land damaged by the tsunami, construction vehicles continue the slow process of reconstruction. Progress is slow, but gradually things are moving forward.
At the same time, the accidents at the nuclear power plants on the Fukushima coast continue to have an effect.
Radioactive contamination remains and families live with a heightened fear of the dangers of radiation. Staff at the nuclear plants work in extremely difficult conditions.
In solidarity with other denominations and faiths, NSKK is working hard to support the victims. This is organised into two parts.
One part is to provide support for the communities and people affected by the disaster. This work is led by parishes in the Diocese of Tohoku.
And a second project focuses on the issue of nuclear power and the possibility of radioactive contamination – this is a national initiative led by the provincial office of NSKK.