"Tohoku HELP" Action Plan2012.02.14

Date Created November 14, 2011.
Author Naoya Kawakami

November 15, 2011. Materials for Directors and Councilors Meeting



“Tohoku HELP” Action Plan 



Launched on March 18, the “Sendai Christian Alliance Disaster Relief Network (“Tohoku HELP”)”, in October established the incorporated foundation “Tohoku Diakonia (“Tohoku Help Administrative Office”)” for the purposes of strengthening administrative functionality and considering plans for future activities. The proposed plans and current activities are as outlined below.




0.Activities to Strengthen Office Functionality and Support Temporary Housing Communities


 Tohoku HELP has placed a priority on strengthening the functionality of the Tohoku HELP Administrative Office and implementing activities to support the temporary housing communities.

In cooperation with the NGO “Wakabayashi Help”, Tohoku HELP is undertaking the following activities to support the temporary housing communities.



(1) Meal Delivery Service:   

For those affected by the disaster living in temporary housing who find it difficult to prepare their own meals, Tohoku HELP is providing a meal delivery service at the lowest possible price.

In concrete term, this means:

1) creating a register limited to single parent families, aged persons requiring care and disabled persons;

2) delivering subsidized dinners for which Tohoku HELP and the “Bento” (boxed meal) provider are respectively contributing 100 yen and 50 yen with the recipient paying the remainder; and

3) as part-time meal delivery staff employing persons that have been affected by the disaster.

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In this way Tohoku HELP has created a sustainable meal delivery service that enables those persons to maintain an independent lifestyle.

In October, the pilot test period, 231 boxed meals were delivered to residents within one temporary housing complex (Higashi-dori temporary housing complex).

In the future it is planned to expand this program into other temporary housing complexes.


(2) Education Activities:   

For the children under the compulsory school education age living in temporary housing, Tohoku HELP is providing a free education service.


In concrete terms Tohoku HELP is:

1) paying the transportation fees to volunteer university students to give regular classes at temporary housing complexes;

2) creating “Parents Associations” who as a group support look after and care for the children in temporary housing complexes; and

3) 10 times every month from 6p.m. providing free tutoring services at the community halls of temporary housing complexes.


Since the launching of this project at one temporary housing complex in August and finalizing the system in September, each session has been attended by about 20 children.


(3) Volunteer Coordination:

Tohoku HELP is helping to coordinate the activities of volunteers who want to support those living in the temporary housing communities.

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Tohoku HELP’s activities include:

1) renting one room within a temporary housing complex;

2) staffing that room with one full-time employee; and

3) supporting the activities of all volunteer organizations in order to provide the maximum benefit to those affected by the disaster.


To date in concrete terms, Tohoku HELP has enlisted the support of an “Ikebana (flower arranging)” teacher who provides an Ikebana service twice a week, and also a professional masseuse for “Healing counseling”.


(4) Event Coordination:

Tohoku HELP is supporting the planning and holding of community events which in turn support the creation of self-established housing complex associations and strengthen community ties within these complexes. To date Tohoku HELP has supported six events held at four temporary housing complexes and one hosted by a neighborhood association.

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(5) Provision of Emergency Relief Supplies:

Tohoku HELP, upon becoming aware of a shortage of shared goods required at temporary housing complexes, has been purchasing and delivering the same to those communities in need.

Based upon these purchase and distribution activities, Tohoku HELP is able to provide advice related to essential purchase items to those in charge of the temporary housing complexes associations. To date Tohoku HELP has distributed essential goods to approximately 3,000 persons in four temporary housing complexes.

 Based upon the experience gained from the abovementioned support activities, the Tohoku HELP Administrative Office in real time is able to clearly identify the present needs of those affected by the disaster. Given the experience gained by Tohoku HELP as a result of the above activities TH has proposed the seven projects as outlined below.


1. Senior Citizens

Initially those living evacuations centers were moved as a group to the same temporary housing complexes.

However since that time as many of the younger people have subsequently moved to private housing, there is a high concentration of senior citizens living in temporary housing complexes. To ensure that the residents of the temporary housing complexes, particularly focusing on the senior citizens, are able to rebuild their communities, Tohoku HELP envisages a step-by-step plan as outlined below.

(0) Presently the local communities are discussing the possibility of relocating to a new neighborhood based upon a land swap agreement for their existing land. Tohoku HELP intends to keep a close watch on the progress of these discussions.

(1) In the event that it is decided to relocate to a new neighborhood, Tohoku HELP in discussions with those concerned will construct “Tsunagari Centers” to provide services related to elderly care, home nursing care and after-school day care.

(2) These centers will be staffed by volunteers sourced under the government’s social security system and other NGOs to provide services to all those affected by the disaster.

(3) Through the above activities, Tohoku HELP together with the involved local communities will create a “New Public Welfare” model which it is hoped can be expanded into other disaster affected areas.


Presently while (0) above is still being considered by those concerned. Coordination activities towards step (1) above have already started.


2. Children  

There are many parents in the disaster areas raising children who have lost their jobs, houses, or both on March 11.

In the future some of these parents will face many challenges concerning the raising of their children.

Tohoku HELP believes that the responsibility for raising children rests not just on the shoulders of the parents but on society as a whole, and accordingly “Social Nurturing” in cooperation with parents is vital. Tohoku HELP hopes to act to support this need. Tohoku HELP hopes as part of the “Family Home Project” initiated by the Japanese and Miyagi Prefectural governments to:

1) purchase a home able to accommodate six foster children; and

2) hire a foster care professional to look after those children whose parents are unable to presently provide care for their family due to the disaster.


 Presently in addition to considering the abovementioned project, Tohoku HELP is also examining the possibility of social nurturing through other avenues.


3. Radiation  

Tohoku HELP is examining two projects related to the possibility of exposure to radiation.

(1) The Project to Measure Radiation Levels in Foodstuffs

To respond to the fears of residents living in densely populated cities with high levels of ambient radiation (Mainly Fukushima city, Koriyama city, Date city, etc.) and in particular the concerns of mothers, Tohoku HELP will establish foodstuff radiation level measurement centers.

These centers will be established in Sendai city and Iwaki city as these cities are the closest to those mentioned above and have relatively low levels of ambient radiation.

These two cities were chosen as the locations for measurement centers for the following reasons.

Firstly in densely populated areas in Fukushima prefecture with high levels of ambient radiation, radiation at these levels makes it impossible to take accurate measurements. Further in these areas there has been a community polarization between those that have decided to evacuate and those that have decided to remain making it difficult to publicly confront this issue.

Tohoku HELP through this project hopes only to allay fears concerning radiation levels and does not wish to further polarize the community.

Accordingly as a general rule, data concerning the measured radiation levels will only be disclosed to those persons who requested the measurements and the groups providing financial support for this project.

Further in addition to the measurement technicians, counselors will be on hand to provide mental well-being care and those activities will be supervised by the local pastors.

Under this project the maximum number of people able to submit samples for testing will be approximately 5,000 per month.

At present the funding proposal has been submitted to NCCJ and based upon the outcome of their deliberations will be submitted to the concerned overseas organizations.

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(2) Nature Retreat Project:  

For those people with no choice other than to continue living in areas with extremely high radiation levels, this project will establish a system where they can for free or at low cost enjoy a nature retreat in pristine wilderness areas.


In concrete terms:

1) through the Fukushima Church network those desiring to participate and accompanying persons (preferably priests, pastors, etc.) will be arranged into groups and;

2) those groups will be able to enjoy a nature retreat at campgrounds in Miyagi, Iwate and Aomori. To make this project possible, funding to pay coordinators and manage the campgrounds is required.


At the “Great East Japan Earthquake Church Network Conference” to be held in the next few days, Tohoku HELP plans to discuss this project with other church networks.


4. Disabled Persons

 In cooperation with all churches in Sendai, Tohoku HELP will establish a new NPO for the purpose of opening and operating convenience stores to support those people in disaster affected areas particularly in the areas where it is difficult to purchase food and other daily necessities.
These stores will mainly be staffed by those with disabilities.
 Presently Tohoku HELP is putting in place a framework under which the church is the controlling body of this NPO. Tohoku HELP is seeking the cooperation of the private sector regarding the establishment of these convenience stores.


5. Non-Japanese Residents

 Within the disaster affected areas a large number of non-Japanese residents are women who moved to Japan as spouses of Japanese men (Non-Japanese wives).

As a result it is difficult to grasp the present condition of many non-Japanese disaster victims.

To assist in this Tohoku HELP will:

1) employ survey takers;

2) take surveys as to their present conditions and;

3) in collaboration with universities perform an academic study of survey results to achieve the purposes stated below.


Tohoku HELP is on standby to provide concrete support as required.
It is believed that this survey into the present condition of non-Japanese disaster victims will also uncover many issues faced by all those persons, be they Japanese or non-Japanese, affected by the disaster.

Accordingly this project will be a valuable tool for making proposals to draw up support policies for all those affected by the disaster.

Further Tohoku HELP through setting up a “Multi-Cultural Center” focused upon supporting non-Japanese disaster victims will establish a social network that cuts through ethnic and national barriers.

At present the funding application for this project has been submitted and given the outcome of deliberations by the NCCJ, funding applications are being made to the concerned Church organizations overseas.



6. Spiritual Care

 Many of those directly affected by the disaster have suffered deep mental wounds.

While in Japan a great amount of attention has been paid to “Mental Care” in psychological and analytical terms little or no government attention has been given to the provision of “Spiritual Care” by Chaplains. One of the major mental health issues arising from this disaster is the “Constant and overwhelming grief”.

This is a condition unable to be treated by medical practitioners.

Tohoku HELP, not just in cooperation with the ministers of the Christian church, but together with the pastors of all faiths, will establish a system to officially authorize pastors or leaders of all faiths to provide spiritual care in their local communities.

To achieve this, Tohoku HELP will endow a university chair and establish a Chaplain fostering system such as those established in the U.S. and other countries.

 Presently Tohoku HELP is preparing a funding application for Chaplain fostering as described above which is a pillar of this project and is acting as quickly as possible to identify universities where lectures can be held.

Shortly after this disaster struck Tohoku HELP, in collaboration with groups from other faiths, began administering spiritual care which included hosting a radio program and opening a telephone counseling service.

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7. Town Revitalization  

Tohoku HELP is supporting town revitalization through utilizing the latent cultural assets that exist within many communities affected by the disaster.


An example is the “Korean Town” concept. In some of the communities in Miyagi devastated by the tsunami many residents have Korean roots.

These residents have not to date publicly stated their ethnicity. However post March 11, it is believed they can play a vital role in community recovery.

Accordingly by establishing “Korean Towns” in disaster affected areas in cooperation with the Church network and by inviting “Korean Celebrities”, town developments similar to Ikuno-ku, Osaka are envisaged.

 Presently Tohoku HELP has obtained cooperation for this project in one area (Shiogama city), appointed an administrative manager and commenced a feasibility study.