Three years ago, the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster battered northern Japan, killing more than 16,000 people and leaving thousands more missing and injured. Thanks to its generous supporters, Direct Relief has since provided more than $5.5 million in grants to 13 Japanese aid groups working to provide relief and recovery to survivors of the strongest known earthquake to ever hit Japan.
Immediately following the disaster, Direct Relief and the Japanese American Citizen’s League (JACL) established the Japan Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund, committing 100 percent of all contributions to be used exclusively to help people in Japan in the most productive, efficient manner possible.
All contributions received for the Japan Earthquake Recovery Fund have gone to small, grassroots Japanese organizations caring for the most vulnerable people affected by the Japan earthquake and tsunami. The Fund has supported aid activities ranging from immediate emergency response feeding and shelter programs to long-term recovery and specialized rehabilitative care for seniors and persons with disabilities.
During the first two years following the earthquake and tsunami, the opportunities to support projects in Fukushima Prefecture were limited due to the very dynamic and unsure situation surrounding the radiation contamination from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The plant was damaged during the earthquake and tsunami, releasing radioactive particles and triggering mass evacuations of people living near the area.
Currently, recovery from the earthquake and tsunami in the worst affected areas of Fukushima Prefecture is estimated to be more than one year behind its neighboring prefectures. In addition, the nuclear contamination has created an immensely complex series of issues. That’s why many of the most recent grants are focused on recovery efforts in this area of high need.
In the last year alone, Direct Relief, through the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund, has granted $570,000 for five new projects, including:
- Community Activities in Minami Soma, Fukushima – Since 2011, the Japanese International Volunteer Center (JVC) has supported six community spaces which foster resident empowerment, cultural practices, psychological health, and local collaboration for evacuees living in temporary housing after being forced to leave their homes because of high radiation levels from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
- Linking Civil Societies with Nuclear Threat for Joint Advocacy for Future Disaster Prevention – The Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) is partnered with the local NGO FUKUDEN to share the lessons of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and help enhance public knowledge of radiation issues.
- Supporting Healthy Growth of Children in Fukushima – NPO Shalom, aims to ensure healthy growth and development of children in Fukushima by protecting them from radiation by conducting surveys and interviews; producing maps with data and analysis; measuring radiation levels; and hosting retreats for children to help clear radiation from their bodies and allow them to fully experience outdoor activities.
- Tokoku Kids “Digital Natives” Project – NGO Living Dreams is working to support children’s homes in Fukushima Prefecture with technology programs and learning activities to help prepare them for a successful future.
- Playground of Hope Serving Tokoku Communities – Playground of Hope (PoH) builds playgrounds and community spaces in needy communities throughout Japan. This project will help disaster-affected communities rebuild by constructing these spaces in areas that experienced significant damage.
A comprehensive overview of the work conducted by the in-country nongovernmental partner organizations supported by the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund can be see on the online, interactive Japan Aid map. Click here to view the map.