12 March 2012
Japanese earthquake: one year on
The world has marked a year since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami which killed more than 15,000 people.
As well as the high death toll, the 9.0-magnitude quake which hit north-east Japan on 11 March 2011 saw around 300,000 people displaced.
Christian organisations were at the heart of rescue and aid efforts when the disaster struck and have been working within the affected areas in the 12 months since.
Alliance member World Vision has helped more than 140,000 people in the region and has put a three-year plan in place to assist families as they rebuild their lives.
Their programme focuses on children’s development and protection in tsunami-affected communities, supporting senior citizens and livelihood recovery in the fishing industry.
Thanks to support from its donors, World Vision has raised $53.5 million for the three-year programme.
Mariko Kinai, World Vision’s disaster response director in Japan, said: “’Kizuna’ is a popular word in Japan these days. It means ‘bonds of friendship’, and it is something that has been powerfully demonstrated over the past year.
“The support shown to Japan by more than 20 countries via World Vision has strengthened our understanding of ‘kizuna’ and offered great hope to those who have been affected.”
Habitat for Humanity is another of many Christian organisations that have been working in Japan following the disaster. Volunteers with the charity have spent the equivalent of around 10,000 days clearing debris, cleaning homes, distributing household items and getting stuck in to community revitalisation projects in Iwate and Miyagi – two regions affected by the earthquake.
Ian Walkden, national director of Habitat for Humanity, said: “In every disaster low-income and vulnerable families – elderly people, those with disabilities or illnesses – suffer disproportionately. Recovering after a major disaster like this with the earthquake, tsunami and continuing nuclear radiation situation, was and is just too much for any one country to deal with alone, no matter how well developed. This is why we are helping in Japan.”
Photo: Japan (March 15, 2011) A tug boat is among debris in Ofunato, Japan, following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Matthew M. Bradley/Released)