By USPG press office
The Anglican Church in Japan is rolling out an £5.2 million programme to support the survivors of the devastating tsunami.
At the same time, the Asian Rural Institue (ARI), based in Tochigi-ken, has issued a plea for the world to learn lessons from the near-calamity at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
The earthquake and tsunami on 11 March this year claimed 15,500 lives, with thousands more still missing.
The official programme of Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK, the Anglican Church in Japan) is entitled Let’s Walk Together and focuses support on those most in need, including the elderly, children, those with disabilities, and the poor.
Alongside food, clothing and medicine, initiatives include children’s camps, a toy library, repairs to church buildings, and construction of temporary accommodation. NSKK will also help to collect and share statistics and information to maintain awareness of the needs in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Most funding for the initiatives will come from within Japan. USPG helped with an initial grant to get the Let’s Walk Together programme up and running.
Meanwhile, reflecting on the damage caused by radiation leakage from the Fukushima plant, a plea has been issued by Steve Cutting, director at ARI, which trains community leaders from around the world in sustainable rural living.
Steve said: 'The wind, the rain, the soil, our fresh healthy vegetables... we must see them as something to fear. Our lives have been broken by a reckless lust for limitless energy.
'This is a grave tragedy which, unlike the earthquake and tsunami, we humans must bear responsibility for. It is by our own actions that those substances of goodness that give life to the creatures of this earth have been perverted into things that bring fear and disease.
'I only hope we will be humble enough to learn the lessons to be had, not only in Japan, but the world over.'
Missing bodies, economic impact, psychological effects
More news from Japan comes from USPG Mission Companion Claire Gelder, who sent the following report:
‘At the moment, one of the main problems is the stench. The temperature has risen dramatically and the tsunami brought with it lots of sea creatures and weed, which it left behind.
‘There are still more than 7,000 people missing, with many bodies under the rubble. There is a lack of volunteers to clear away the rubble, as it is not an easy area to get to, and a large proportion of the inhabitants of the area are elderly so they can’t do it themselves.
‘A lot of temporary housing has been built, but only 43 per cent is inhabited because people in temporary housing aren’t allowed to receive any aid – clothing, food, medicine, etc – and they have to pay their own utilities.
‘Many businesses were washed away or had to stop production – including large ones like Toyota and Hitachi, although Nissan has managed to get back to near full production – so many people have no income.
‘The psychological effects have also hit, with people realising the enormity of the situation and feeling the loss of their loved ones.’
USPG sent a grant from our Rapid Response Fund to support the immediate needs of NSKK following the tsunami. Please donate to this fund so that USPG can support local Anglican Churches in times of emergency and natural disaster.