Mar 11 2012

One year since…

Today marks one year since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck northeast Japan. As a Japanese, I want to dedicate this post to those who have been supporting Japan and its people.

All the people around the world who prayed, shed tears, gave kind thoughts, donated aids and money for the affected, and all the rescue teams and volunteer workers from around the world who had saved countless lives and helped rebuild the affected areas – I cannot thank enough, but really, thank you. I thank you from bottom of my heart.

earthquake 1

In March last year, Yuko Sugimoto was photographed wrapped with a blanket standing in front of debris looking for her son in the tsunami-hit town of Ishinomaki. 11 months on, the same housewife stands with her five-year-old son at the same place (image from Daily Mail).

earthquake 2

Before and after clean-up shots of Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture (image from Daily Mail)

earthquake 4

Then and now: Koji Chiba, a member of Japan’s Self-Defense Force, rescued four-month-old girl; he is shown below holding the girl, now 16 months old, on the anniversary of the earthquake (image and text from Daily Mail).

The sad facts:

  • 15,854 lives lost, 3155 people still missing (as of 11th March 2012)
  • 1465 earthquake and tsunami related deaths in evacuation centres and temporary housing (as of 11th March 2012)
  • 326,000 survivors still homeless, including 80,000 evacuated from the vicinity of the Fukushima plant (as of 8th March 2012)
  • 240 children (under 18 years old) became orphans in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefecture alone
  • The World Bank’s estimated economic cost was US $235 billion
  • Authorities have imposed a 12-mile no-go zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant, and residents may never be allowed to go back
  • there are over 22 million tons of debris in the earthquake and tsunami affected areas, and only 6 % of those had been processed

The facts that gave us hope:

  • Total donations received by the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Central Community Chest of Japan is now over 520 billion yen (GBP £4 billion /US $6.3billion), and 425.6 billion yen will be distributed to the survivors (as of 6th March 2012)
  • We received donations and relief aids from 133 countries and international organisations
  • More than 930,000 volunteer workers had worked in the affected areas
  • More than 5700 safes were turned in to the local authorities, containing over 2.36 billion yen in cash (GBP £18.3 million /US $28.6 million), and 96% of these cash were returned to the owners
  • Also, thousands of wallets and purses, containing more than 3.79 billion yen (GBP £29.3 million /US $45.9 million), were turned in. About 85 % of the cash (3.13 billion yen, GBP £24.2 million /US $37.9 million) were returned to the owners (as of 16th August 2011)

Yes, there are still numbers of hardships and problems we need to overcome, yet there are also tremendous recoveries and hope thanks to unbelievable amount of love and help from people all over the world.

However small my voice in this tiny blog may be, I wanted to – I had to – tell every one of you who gave us hope ‘thank you’. And no, this is not just me; I believe that every Japanese is feeling the same, wanting to thank you. So… hugs and kisses to you all xxx

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5 Commnents to “One year since…”

  1. Sorry for really late reply, I didn’t see the kind words you said here. Anyhow I don’t dare to take credit for my nationality. All loving kindness people around the world what they did truly move me deeply. It was hard not to tear up, when I saw some of the very touching and heart warming moments. Truly respect the Japanese’s spirit. [ps. love your charming personality, every time pass by your blog make me smile :) ]

  2. Didn’t know you were from Taiwan! As you must already know, Taiwanese people’s support has been just incredible – unbelievable amount of donation (over 20 billion yen so far!!), love and moral support. 多謝台湾, please give your family and friends lots of hugs and kisses from me xx

  3. I’m from Taiwan. Taiwan and Japan share a lot of geological similarity, and both countries are very vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquake and typhoon. I knew how terrify feeling about the rumble of an earthquake. I’m deeply moved by the Japanese’s fighting spirit. xx

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story (it made me cry…). Thank you, and ‘thank you’ to your father for his love for Japan xx

  5. I think of my father when I think of Japan. My father visited Japan often for scientific conferences. He was a Photographer and Scientist. He absolutely loved Japan and its people and this shows in his iconic photographs of Japan. He even returned with my mother for more visits. He died a year before the earthquake and tsunami, but would have been terribly devastated knowing of the loss of life and damage as we all were. Thank you for this post.

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