Timely Delivery Key to Fulfill Survivors’ Needs

On Wednesday, March 30, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Team distributed food items including prepared food pouches, long-life milk, grapefruit, confectionery etc., along with underwear and paper towel body scrub at refuge centers and welfare facilities for the aged in cities of Sendai, Iwanuma and Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture.

Welfare Workers Convene to Assess Situation

Meanwhile, Sayako NOGIWA, a member of the Team, participated in a coordination meeting held in Morioka City, the capital of Iwate Prefecture, attended by members of Prefectural Council for Social Welfare, directors of welfare facilities for persons with disabilities, etc.  The latest information was shared on the status of persons with disabilities and the elderly in Iwate and of the relief activities that has become available to them.  A general direction of the assistance in the near future was also discussed.

Delivering Exactly What Is Needed

At Saiwai-cho Elementary School in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, 90 local residents are taking refuge, whose houses have been lost or seriously damaged.  They have received relief supplies from local administration and the neighbors.  AAR JAPAN, having been informed that the evacuees here are lacking clothes, handed out 14 boxes of T-shirts, socks, etc., with some extra towels and confectionery.
Relief items arrive at Saiwai-cho Elementary School, where many aged survivors are taking shelter (Far right, Hiromichi TANAKA of AAR JAPAN)

The Relief Team is always striving to reach survivors with the items they really need at particular moment by responding as quickly as possible to various requests or asking what survivors want at the time of delivery.

List of Destinations on March 30

Miyagino Ward, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture
-Saiwai-cho Elementary School (Refuge center, 90 survivors)

Watari Town, Miyagi Prefecture
-Nisshu-kai (Welfare facility for the aged, 220 survivors)

Futaki District, Iwanuma City, Miyagi Prefecture
-“Sasae-ai” (Welfare facility for the aged, 40 survivors)

Refuge centers and welfare facilities in Ayukawahama District, Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture



Struggles for Basic Supplies Continue

On Tuesday, March 29, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Teams covered a total of 4 locations in Yamada Town, Iwate Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and Sendai City, both in Miyagi Prefecture, delivering food, blankets, diapers, etc.

Swift Response to Actual Needs

At Rikuchu-Coast Juvenile Center in a town of Yamada in Iwate Prefecture, where 240 survivors are clustered together, the Team distributed some food including potato chips, grapefruit, sweet pounded rice cake, etc., along with underwear and masks.  The facility did not have running water; their only source of water is an occasional arrival of potable water trucks, preventing the survivors from taking a bath or shower.  Even washing clothes is a tough chore to execute.

Among 240 survivors are 40 inmates of Hamamatsu Gakuen, a welfare facility for persons with disabilities nearby, which was totally destroyed by the Tsunami.  The Team provided 60 additional sheets of blankets for them, who have had to spend the night on a single sheet of blanket spread on a cold concrete floor.
Survivors receive extra blankets from a AAR JAPAN volunteer (left).

When a member of the AAR JAPAN’s Relief Team was listening to survivors’ stories, lights came on suddenly in the building.  The facility had managed to install a generator, and it was this day that the survivors here got at least some lights for the night for the first time after the Quake.

List of Destinations on March 29

Yamada Town, Iwate Prefecture
-Rikuchu-Coast Juvenile Center (Refuge center, 240 survivors)

Ayukawahama District, Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture
-Ayukawa Junior High School (Relief item storage for the entire Ojika Peninsula area)
-Seiyu-kan (Refuge center, 180 survivors)

Taihaku Ward, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture
-CIL Tasuketto (Welfare facility for the aged, 60 survivors)
Staff of Juvenile Center carries in blankets.  These will improve the life of survivors who are forced to sleep on a single sheet of blanket on a concrete floor.
A girl at a gymnasium of Juvenile Center.  "My school is broken, but here I am OK because there are many friends" says the girl, who is a first grader at elementary school.
Houses are piled on top of each other (Ojika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture)
Many helped unloading relief items at Ayukawa Junior High School (Far right, Toshiyuki KOGA of AAR JAPAN)

Yoshifumi KAWABATA: Programme Coordinator, Has participated in a number of emergency relief operations in Indonesia, Haiti, etc.  Has worked as a photo-journalist in Afghanistan.  Born in Chiba Prefecture, 34 years old.


Fluid Soil Poses Threat to Welfare Facilities

On March 28, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Teams logged 7 locations on their delivery record, visiting 4 places in Tome City, 2 in Kurihara City and 1 more in Yamamoto Town, all in Miyagi Prefecture.

Disappeared Welfare Facility Revisited

Sasae-ai (Supporting Each Other)” is a welfare facility for the aged in Yamamoto Town.  Its building had been rendered into a pile of planks and scrap metals by the massive Tsunami, and a single signboard was all that was left in its location when the AAR JAPAN’s Relief Team managed to get there on March 26.  The Team was later able to talk to the director of the facility, but at that time he had not grasped enough information as to what had happened to the elderly who had been in the building at the time of the Quake.  The leader got in touch with the Team again after two days, saying whereabouts of the aged clients had been confirmed and that he had secured a storage for relief items.  The elderly of the facility are scattered in several locations, some at refuge centers, some others staying with their relatives.  The team met director on March 28, and handed out food and diapers for adults, both desperately needed by the dispersed elderly.

Welfare Facility Ponders Relocation

Sakuranbo Kurabu (Cherry Club)” is a welfare facility for the aged in a city of Tome in Northern Miyagi.  Situated inland, Tome was out of reach of the Tsunami.  Many parts of the town, former marshland, suffered serious damages nonetheless due to its relatively loose soil.
Half of the building of “Sakuranbo Kurabu” is not usable because of possible liquefaction caused by the Quake.  The phenomenon has created a number of puddles in the facility’s premise.  A staff member of the facility told the Team that the facility might have to move to somewhere else in near future, because the current building is too dangerous for normal use.
Land liquefaction left puddles around the building of "Sakuranbo Kurabu" (Go IGARASHI of AAR JAPAN, right, hands out a box of relief items)

List of Destinations on March 28

Kurihara City, Miyagi Prefecture
-Bakery “Isoppu (Aesop)” (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities)
-“Mariya no Ie (House of Mary)” (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities)
Septic tanks at "Minna no Ie" were all damaged.

Yamamoto Town, Miyagi Prefecture
-“Sasae-ai” (Welfare facility for the aged)

Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture
-Wako-en (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities)
-“Sakuranbo Kurabu” (Welfare facility for the aged)
-“Minna no Ie (House for Everybody)” (Welfare facility for the aged)
-Hantoku-en (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities)



Two Weeks of Relief in Number

Summing Up AAR JAPAN’s Initial Actions

AAR JAPAN tries to respond to desperate calls for assistance (Sopana HAGIWARA, left, in Kaminoyama, Yamagata Prefecture)

AAR JAPAN started its operations of delivering emergency relief items to the survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake, on Monday, March 14.  A total of 13 staff members have been dispatched to the calamity-stricken area.  From an interim office which has been set up in Sendai City, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Teams have already visited 82 locations as of Saturday, March 26, where a total of 15,000 survivors are taking refuge, and distributed items listed below.  A number of local volunteers kindly assisted the delivery.  On Saturday, AAR JAPAN’s truck carried a load of relief items to the Emergency Headquarters of Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture, a community where a score of residents of Minami-Soma City are staying, who were forced to vacate their hometown to avoid effects of the crippled nuclear power plant.

Relief Items Distributed between March 13 and 26

-Diesel oil            13,600 liters
-Kerosene            4,400 liters
-Gasoline             537 liters
-Potable water     11 tons
-Rice                    2 tons
-Oranges             2 tons
-Bananas            6,300 pieces
-Nutrition supplements    3,600 pieces
-Sweet-bean cake              20,000 pieces
-Blankets            1,000 sheets
-Sleeping bags    3,400 units
-Underwear/clothes          20,000 pieces
-Masks                5,600 pieces
-Hand warmers  5,000 pieces
-Medicine            60 packages
-Paper diapers    52,000 packages
-Sanitary items for ladies 13,000 packages
-Batteries            80 cartons
-Baby products (baby food, utensils, baby bottles, pacifiers, baby slings, etc.)
-Miscellaneous (towels, portable radios, portable stoves, gloves, tissue paper, stationary, etc.)

In some parts of the wide-spread afflicted area, reconstruction works are already under way and a flood of relief items from every corner of the country and around the world have started to arrive in the region.  However there still remain thousands of people who are still trapped at emergency phase, including the aged, people with disabilities, or those who have little access to big refuge centers, where most of the reliefs items accumulate.  AAR JAPAN will continue to pick up the needs of such people who often do not come into the picture of major disaster relief operations, left unnoticed by local administrations.

AAR JAPAN would like to express sincere gratitude toward enormous support it has received so far from countless individuals, companies and organizations both domestically and overseas.


AAR JAPAN Enters the Demolished City

On Sunday, March 27, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Team made an expedition to the city of Rikuzen-Takata, one of the most heavily damaged towns along the Pacific coast, visiting two welfare facilities for persons with disabilities for delivery of relief items.
Most part of Rikuzen-Takata city lies in a state of obliteration.  Few buildings except those in the heights survived.

Persons with Disabilities Stay Together

Out of 4 welfare facilities in Rikuzen-Takata, only two survived the catastrophe; the other two were swallowed by the Tsunami.  “Hikami-no-Sono” and “Asunaro Home”, two remaining facilities now serve as refuge centers.

At “Hikami-no-Sono”, a total of 50 persons with disabilities and staff members are taking shelter.  The small building, located in the heights, evaded the devastating Tsunami.  In contrast to relatively bigger refuge centers nearby where consistent provisions of relief items have recently started to arrive, small places like “Hikami-no-Sono” are still experiencing severe lack of material support.  Despite the suffocating inconvenience, many of persons with disabilities have no other option but staying in the familiar facility.  For them, sharing time and space with many others at bigger refuge centers is simply unrealistic.

Yoshiteru HORIE (left), Secretary General of AAR JAPAN presents a box of bananas to the director of "Hikami-no-Sono".  He was very happy, saying the fruit was easy to eat and nutritious.

AAR JAPAN’s Relief Team handed out bananas, grapefruits, futon mattress, toilet paper rolls and 20 liters of gasoline.  Vehicles at “Hikami-no-Sono” were completely out of gas when the Team arrived, hindering them from going out to procure necessary items.  “Now we can go to shops far away from here and buy things”, said the worker at the facility.

List of Destinations on March 27

Rikuzen-Takata City, Miyagi Prefecture
-Hikami-no-Sono (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities, 50 survivors)
-Asunaro Home (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities, 15 survivors)

Senior Programme Coordinator, mainly responsible for the AAR JAPAN's projects in Asia, including Myanmar.  Involved in a number of emergency relief operations in the past, including Myanmar Cyclone in 2008, Sumatra Earthquake in 2009 and Pakistan Flood in 2010.  Born in Tokyo, 34 years old. 



No Shortcut to Finding Those Who Need Help

On Saturday, March 26, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Team visited three locations in Miyagi prefecture for delivery of food and fuel.  This day the Team surveyed 12 additional welfare facilities for the aged and persons with disabilities.

Relief Team Faces Tough Realities

The elderly and persons with disabilities, around whom AAR JAPAN’s relief operations are conducted, are often considered the most vulnerable to natural disasters, and are often the last ones to receive assistance.  The Team literally calls up each welfare facility in the affected area one by one to assess the level of damage and to grasp the immediate needs before setting out to actual delivery.  Sometimes the AAR staff have to directly visit those facilities where no one is answering the phone or no e-mail response is coming from.

On March 26, the Team headed to one of such welfare facilities for the aged, Sasae-Ai (“Supporting Each Other”) Day-Care Center in a town of Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture.

Roads in the vicinity of Sasae-Ai were closed off to regular vehicles because of heavy traffic of big construction equipments mobilized to remove piling debris.  The Team had to consult a road map to find a detour, only to find a signboard left at the facility’s address.  Patrolling policemen had no clue about what happened to Sasae-Ai.
Go IGARASHI and Toshiyuki KOGA of AAR JAPAN searches for a welfare facility.  No trace of building was found.

The Team was later able to talk to the director of the facility, who told that his house was lost in the Tsunami, and three out of 23 employees were found dead.  Even he did not know whereabouts of the elderly who had been in the building at the outbreak of the Quake.

The Team’s path gets often blocked by cruel realities like this, but the entire staff are determined to continue searching for people who are still waiting for the arrival of helping hands.

List of Destinations on March 26

Yamamoto Town, Miyagi Prefecture
-Sakamoto Junior High School (Refuge center, food & water delivered)
-Seiwa-en (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities, gasoline/kerosene/diesel fuel delivered)

Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture
-No.2 Kyosei-en (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities, gasoline/kerosene/diesel fuel delivered) 
AAR JAPAN staff unload relief items from Tokyo.
Yoshifumi KAWABATA: Programme Coordinator, Has participated in a number of emergency relief operations in Indonesia, Haiti, etc.  Has worked as a photo-journalist in Afghanistan.  Born in Chiba Prefecture, 34 years old.



A Torch in the Dark for Aged Survivors

On Friday, March 25, eight locations in three prefectures in the disaster-hit area were added to the AAR JAPAN’s delivery list.  The Emergency Relief Team visited Shiogama City in Miyagi Prefecture, Ofunato City in Iwate Prefecture and Kaminoyama City in Yamagata Prefecture.

“There Still Are Problems, But Relief Goods Are Coming”

At a facility for local farmers in Ofunato City, 20 survivors are taking refuge.  The building sits on a top of a hill overlooking the town, where the great Tsunami failed to reach.  AAR JAPAN’s Relief Team provided oranges, potato chips, flashlights and batteries.  The survivors were especially happy to see a flashlight, because electricity has not returned yet in the area, immersing the entire building in total darkness at night.

“We still have many problems here. The life is stressful and some of the elderly are feeling sick. But the distribution of relief items are becoming stable, and the things we really need like medicines have started to come”, the administrator of the facility told the Team.
Shuichi ISHIBASHI of AAR JAPAN (right) hands a box of oranges to the head of the facility.

List of Destinations on March 25

Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture
-Fukushi-no-Sato Center (Welfare facility for the aged, and persons with disabilities, 340 survivors)
-Kesen Special School (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities, 200 survivors)
-Ikawa Elementary School (Refuge center, 50 survivors)
-Local Farmer Center (Refuge center, 20 survivors)
-Kura House Ofunato (Welfare facility for the aged, 30 survivors)
-Nisshu-kai (Welfare facility for the aged, 250 survivors)

Shiogama City, Miyagi Prefecture
-Municipal Gymnasium (Refuge center, 130 survivors)

Kaminoyama City, Yamagata Prefecture
-Hataraku Fujin no Ie (“House for Working Ladies”, 30 survivors with disabilities)



Local Farm Donates Rice through AAR JAPAN

On Thursday, March 24, the AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Team visited Higashi-Matsushima City in Miyagi Prefecture and a town of Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture, stopping at six locations for delivery of relief items.

“Survivors First”

At “Hamanasu no Sato (Land of Rugosa Rose)”, a nursing home for the aged in Higashi-Matsushima, approximately 100 survivors are taking refuge, which include the inmates of other welfare facilities.  The entire staff, none of whom has gone home since the outbreak of the disaster, is taking care of the group.  Here the AAR JAPAN’s Relief Team distributed rice, water, towels, clothes, etc.  Rice had been donated from “Farmin’” an organic rice farm in Tome City in Miyagi, an area well known for its rice production.  Their clients had expressed to the Farm that their portion of rice be sent to the survivors, and the Farm had entrusted AAR JAPAN with the delivery of 300kg of their rice.  In order to save precious water, all of the donated rice had been specially processed so that no pre-cooking washing, which is a common practice in Japan, is necessary.
Staff member of "Hamanasu no Sato"receives locally produced rice from Sopana HAGIWARA (left), Board Member of AAR JAPAN.

The survivors at “Hamanasu no Sato” have not had an opportunity to take a bath since the Quake.  “Electricity got back on recently, which is a great relief.  But we still do not have running water.  We cannot take a shower; we even have difficulty brushing our teeth.  Some of the people here are starting to show the early symptoms of pneumonia.  The situation is unnerving because we cannot take them to hospital”, the Team was told.
IKEA JAPAN, a global furniture company, donated bags of potato chips through Japan Mothers Society, an NGO for working mothers.  "This will make both inmates and staff members very happy" said an employee at "Hamanasu no Sato" with a smile.

List of Destinations on March 24

Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture
-No.2 Kyosei-en (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities, 100 survivors)
-No.2 Kyosei-en Annex (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities, 20 survivors)
-Izumi no Sato (Welfare facility for the aged, 32 survivors)
-Hamanasu no Sato (Welfare facility for the aged, 100 survivors)

Otsuchi Town, Iwate Prefecture
-Kozuchi Community (Survivors staying at home, 50 persons)
-Board of Education, Otsuchi Town (through Emergency Headquarters, Otsuchi Town: a focal point of delivery of relief items to over 40 refuge centers and its 5,000 survivors)
Sopana HAGIWARA carries towels donated from Bonheur Group, an amusement company, into "Hamanasu no Sato".  The floor in front of the main entrance had a big crack.

A teddy bear among debris in Higashi-Matsushima



Unequal Distribution of Assistance Becomes Visible

On Wednesday, March 23, the AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Team continued its operation in central Miyagi, covering 8 places in Sendai City, and 2 more in a town of Minami-Sanriku, delivering items which included food, clothes, diapers, toilet paper, kerosene and fuel oil.

Some People Get More, Some Less

Asahigaoka Community Center, one of the facilities visited on March 23, is a shelter for approximately 40 people.  Some of them barely survived the Tsunami by holding onto a piece of plank; some were trapped in their own houses when the Tsunami washed them away.  The average age of the survivors is 80 years old.
Survivors at Asahigaoka Community Center survived the horrifying onslaught of Tsunami (left, Ben KATO, Board Member of AAR JAPAN).

When the Team handed a package of sweet-bean cake, a staff member of the Center smilingly said it would make everybody happy.  He also told the Team that the elderly were experiencing difficulty using a makeshift toilet set up outside, especially at night because there were no lights available yet.

At Utazu Junior High School in Minami-Sanriku, where 600 survivors are taking refuge, the Team provided food including rice, instant noodles, canned foods, etc., and some other items such as sanitary items for ladies, underwear, clothes, baby bottles, etc.
People at the school said they did not receive any emergency relief for five days after the Quake, and the supply has not been nearly sufficient.
Unprecedented Tsunami literally swept away the entire town of Minami-Sanriku, where the survivors at Asahigaoka Community Center used to live.

The reality in the wide-spread disaster-hit area is that not all the regions nor the refugee centers are getting the same level of assistance.  One of the important missions of the AAR JAPAN’s operation is to alleviate the inequality of relief distribution as much as possible by spotting the survivors who have scarcely received assistance.
Someone dedicated a bouquet of flowers to the devastated hometown (Ishinomaki City).



AAR JAPAN Reaches Out to The Helpless

Relief Items Delivered at Six More Locations

On March 22, AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Team visited six locations and facilities in three cities in Miyagi Prefecture, namely Sendai, Ishinomaki and Higashi-Matsushima.  Rice, oranges and canned foods were delivered along with underwear, sanitary items for ladies, etc.  The Team also had a meeting with various organizations to discuss what can be done from now to support persons with disabilities affected by the disaster.
Rice, oranges and milk were distributed to Izumi-no-Sato, a welfare facility for the elderly people in Higashi-Matsushima City (left, Sopana HAGIWARA of AAR JAPAN)

The list of the beneficiaries on March 22 includes:

Sendai City
-Care Plan Center SLL (Welfare organization for the aged, 60 inmates)

Higashi-Matsushima City
-Izumi-no-Sato (Welfare organization for the aged)
-No.2 Kyosei-en Annex (Welfare facility for persons with disabilities)

Ishinomaki City
-Negishi Townhall (Refuge center, 120 survivors)
-Kiwa community (Citizens staying at home, 300 survivors)
-Gymnasium “Big Bang” (Refuge center, 600 survivors)

Responding to Direct Emergency Calls

Care Plan Center SLL in Sendai is a welfare organization assisting the elderly and persons with disabilities who have chosen to live by themselves in a local community.  After the Quake, they have helped out such people as the elderly, persons with disabilities, families with infants, etc., for whom moving to a nearby refuge site was not a possible option.  The Center was at a loss without public support, and co-operations from individuals were not enough to keep their activity going.  Someone picked up a phone and called directly the Headquarters of AAR JAPAN in Tokyo to appeal for our intervention.
AAR JAPAN's Relief Team listens to explanation from a staff member of Care Plan Center SLL in Sendai City.  The Center assists approximately 60 survivors including the aged and persons with disabilities who cannot move to a refuge place (from left, Sopana HAGIWARA, Shuichi ISHIBASHI and Yoshihiko SHIBATA of AAR JAPAN).

The AAR JAPAN Emergency Relief Team was immediately instructed to bring food items to the Center, including rice, canned foods and some seasoning.

AAR JAPAN normally communicates with the Prefectural Emergency Headquarters, a section responsible for welfare services in a municipal office, or local Council for Social Welfare (CSW), to coordinate its relief operations.  However, we sometimes do receive SOS signals directly from survivors themselves, or their family and friends.

These people are often isolated, and filled with despair as their stock of food gets smaller each day.  Despite having lost everything just like other people, there are those who remain out of the coverage of public support and have absolutely nowhere to turn to.
Reacting to these emergency calls, AAR JAPAN’s Relief Team is trying as much as possible to meet the person directly on the spot to confirm the difficulty and urgency of the situation, before actually handing out the relief items.

AAR JAPAN alone cannot save everybody, but we are determined to seek and reach out to people like the aged or persons with disabilities, who are often slow to come into the scope of the disaster relief, and are easily overlooked by big organizations.



AAR JAPAN’s Relief Cheers Up the Elderly

Welfare Facility without Water Gets What They Need

AAR JAPAN’s Emergency Relief Team continued its delivery operation on Sunday, March 20, visiting two small welfare facilities for elderly people in a town of Okawara, and the municipal office in Iwanuma City, Miyagi.

Relief items for this day included diapers for adults and infants, clothes, futon mattress, etc., in addition to water, milk, milk powder, and sweet-bean cake (yokan).  The Iwanuma Municipal Office is to deliver our items to the evacuees in its vicinity, and one of the welfare facilities ,“Kusunoki (camphor tree)”, is planning to redistribute the goods to approximately 500 survivors living in the neighborhood.
Staff at welfare facility "Kusunoki" showing donated sweet-bean cake. A team of three from Sunmap Co.,Ltd., including Mr. Matsuoka, President (front right) came all the way from Kyushu to help the delivery (left, Sopana Hagiwara, Board Member of AAR JAPAN).

At Kusunoki, all of 30 inmates were fortunately unhurt by the quake, but the electricity resumed running only three days ago, and there was only one propane gas cylinder left.  They did not know what to do with gas after this cylinder empties out.  Their biggest problem was water, which was not running yet.  They were extremely happy to receive a supply of water from the AAR Team.  Sweet-bean cake also made them smile.  “I never thought we could have this here at times like this”, a worker of Kusunoki told the Team.

Helping the Japanese Who Helped Me Out of My Homeland

I am a Japanese citizen now, but I was born in Cambodia.  Helping the survivors of the Big East Japan Earthquake is for me giving back the favors I received as a refugee when I first came to this country.  Their anguishes remind me of my childhood memories of having to put up with a lack of food in war-torn Cambodia.  It is my sincere hope that AAR JAPAN’s operations will be of some encouragement for the survivors.
All at Kusunoki helped moving the items into the facility (center, Sopana Hagiwara)

In many parts of the disaster-hit area, there are still a number of shortages of supplies.  AAR JAPAN will continue to convey the warm support extended from our supporters to the survivors.

It needs to be mentioned here with our heartfelt gratitude that Sunmap Co.,Ltd., based in Fukuoka, and several other enterprises in Kyushu helped AAR JAPAN with procurement and transportation of the items delivered, and Toraya Co.,Ltd., of Tokyo kindly donated 20,000 pieces of sweet-bean cake.

Born in Cambodia.  He came to Japan in 1982 as a refugee.  Graduating from high school in Japan, he now works in the field of software development and network establishment.  AAR JAPAN Board Member since June, 2009.


Relief Items Distributed at School in Heavily Damaged Area

AAR Team Delivers Items at Elementary School in Onagawa

AAR JAPAN has sent an emergency relief team of seven personnel to support the survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
On March 19, the Team distributed the relief items at No.2 Elementary School in Onagawa, one of the harbor towns in the eastern Miyagi Prefecture heavily damaged by the Tsunami.
>Approximately 1,500 local residents are taking refuge in the school building and its gymnasium. The Team headed east from the Sendai base after receiving information from the Emergency Headquarters of the Miyagi Prefectural Government that the evacuees in this school were having a serious shortage of daily supplies including diapers and underwear.
Japan Self Defense Force helps unload the relief items (Left, Yoshitaka SUGISAWA of AAR JAPAN)
 7,200 Diapers, 200 Pairs of Underwear, etc. Given Out

On arriving at the school, the Team got immediately onto unloading. Local volunteers and servicemen of the Japan Self Defense Force provided helping hands. The inventory of the relief items included 7,200 diapers, 200 pairs of ladies’ underwear, 40 sets of antiseptic alcohol, 1,000 toothbrushes, 50 blankets, 4 cans of milk, etc. The procurement and transportation of these items were made possible with the generous cooperation extended to AAR JAPAN from MontBell, a Japanese outdoor product company.

The evacuees were in need of everything. Mothers with small children were especially in trouble with a lack of diapers. A member of the Emergency Headquarters of Onagawa Municipal Office told the Team that the consistent provision of the consumables was required. Some evacuees also said that blankets were not enough to keep them warm enough, and some of them were beginning to feel sick. A week after the Quake, mountains behind them were thinly covered with snow.
The team listens to the pleas of the officer of the Emergency Headquarters of Onagawa City (Right, Sayako NOGIWA of AAR JAPAN).
 Memories Washed Away, Loved Ones Still Missing
 Passing through the town of Onagawa, what I saw was simply hard to believe. Both sides of the road were filled with all kinds of debris. The horrifying piles stretched out into the distance. Several hundred meters from the coastline, a wreckage of disfigured train lay among the houses stuck upon each other, smashed into smithereens. The remnants of ordinary, happy lives in an otherwise peaceful rural town scattered everywhere.
A man was walking along the road with a piece of cardboard hanged from his neck like a necklace. The cardboard carried a message that he was looking for his missing family members. It was an unbearable sight. The plight of the survivors made me feel powerless; I forced myself to concentrate on what needs to be done from now.
A welfare facility for the elderly shredded to pieces by tsunami (Onagawa, Miyagi)
Speed Is the Key
I have, in the past, engaged myself in several disaster relief activities in Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Indonesia, etc. The Great East Japan Earthquake this time, however, has a different meaning in terms of the magnitude of the damages and the fact that it struck the area close to the place I grew up. What is required at this moment is to bring supplies to the survivors as quickly as possible.
AAR JAPAN will continue to operate in the disaster-hit area, especially in places where little assistance has reached. I call for AAR JAPAN supporters to cooperate in rebuilding the future of the survivors. Your contribution will be highly appreciated.

Your kind support is urgently needed.

Senior Programme Coordinator.  She is mainly responsible for the AAR JAPAN's projects in Asia, including Myanmar.  She was also involved in a number of emergency relief operations in the past, including Myanmar Cyclone in 2008, Sumatra Earthquake in 2009 and Pakistan Flood in 2010.  Born in Tokyo, 34 years old.


Emergency Relief Reaches 50 Persons with Disabilities

AAR Relief Team Enters Southern Miyagi
Association for Aid and Relief, JAPAN (AAR JAPAN) has sent an emergency relief team of six members to the northern part of Japan, paralyzed by the Earthquake.
On March 16, the team delivered emergency relief items to the inmates of Seiwa-en, a welfare facility for the persons with disabilities, located in a town of Yamamoto in the southernmost part of Miyagi Prefecture.
Ryo YAMAURA, an AAR JAPAN staff member from Sendai, Miyagi, reports from the disaster-stricken area.

Hometown in Devastation
“We took highway from Sendai City, where AAR JAPAN operates from, to Yamamoto. The highway runs parallel to the coastline, about 5km inland. On the coastal side of the road, I could still see a huge body of water left by the Tsunami, with the wreckage of vehicles floating here and there. Some parts of water remained even on the mountain side of the highway to attest to the level of damages inflicted by the tidal wave.
Tsunami bulled through this house in a town of Yamamoto.

Even for me, a native of Sendai City, this Tsunami is simply beyond the wildest imagination. All I can do at this moment is to merely pray for the safety of my friends who live along the coastline.

Relief Arrives in the Nick of Time
“When we got to Seiwa-en, they were on the verge of running out of their normal stock of food good for three days. 50 inmates and 7 staff members had no clear idea of what to do next. Seeing their plight, the team immediately unloaded food, water, sanitary goods and hand warmers into the building.
Shuichi ISHIBASHI of AAR JAPAN (in red jacket) greets a member of Seiwa-en.

Ms. Yukiko MONMA, President of Seiwa-en, leads the entire crew even after the quake, despite the fact that her own house was swept away by the Tsunami. She repeatedly expressed her sincere gratitude to all of us.”

Lights of Hope Relit
“It was when we were about to finish moving items into the facility that lights came back on at Seiwa-en for the first time in six days after the tremor. Someone cried “Emergency lights are on!” and the sense of joy quickly spread among the inmates and staff members. Some were hugging each other with tears in their eyes. It is hard to imagine how much inconvenience and anxiety they have had to put up with. They should have many more problems to overcome. Nonetheless they saw us off saying “It was a really good day today. Electricity has returned. People like you came with things we needed. You really saved us all.” Her words renewed my desire to reach those who need help as swiftly as possible.
Seiwa-en crew celebrates the return of electricity.

Fulfilling a Share of Work
“On our way back to Sendai, we came across a number of workers on the road removing the debris. There were number of trucks and many road construction sites working around the clock. Many people are fulfilling their duties, giving more than 100%. We, the AAR JAPAN Emergency Relief Team, will also move on for the people who are still waiting for the helping hands to reach them. Considering the magnitude of the damages, AAR JAPAN still needs much more assistance. All the members of the team would like to appeal strongly for continuous, generous contributions from our supporters.”

Representative of AAR JAPAN Kadgli office, Northern Sudan since January 2009. After graduating university, he joined the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and was assigned to Uganda as an elementary school teacher. After spending a year in Uganda, he joined AAR JAPAN. (born in Miyagi, Japan) .


AAR JAPAN Embarks on Delivering of Emergency Relief Items to the Survivors of the Quake and Tsunami

“We Have Nothing to Eat for Today.”
deliverying emergency relief items in Sendai
Sayako Nogiwa of AAR JAPAN deliverying emergency relief items to the earthquake victims (at Nakano Junior High School in Sendai City, on March 14th, 2011)
Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (Shinagawa, Japan, Chairperson: Yukie Osa) has embarked on delivering of emergency relief items to the victims of the earthquake, which occurred on March 11 in the Pacific Ocean offshore of Northern Honshu Island.
The first group of the AAR JAPAN emergency relief team consisting of 3 members left Tokyo early on Sunday, March 13, and arrived in Sendai, the prefectural capital of Miyagi at midnight.
The team got to work from very early in the morning the next day. After checking the latest information on damages and relief activities at the Emergency Headquarters set up at the Sendai City Gubernatorial Office, the team visited Nakano Junior High School in Sendai City. In cooperation with the school PTA, a package of water, green tea, oranges, bananas and some snacks was delivered to 500 evacuees. Many expressed serious concerns facing them at the moment. “We have absolutely nothing to eat even for today” said one evacuee. There are much more people who are waiting desperately for the badly needed assistance.
Tomorrow, Wednesday March 16, the second group is schedule to leave for Sendai with more relief items including diapers, sanitary goods for ladies, disposable hand warmers, etc.
Sendai Interim Office Opened
In the afternoon on Monday, March 14, an interim AAR JAPAN office was set up at Ichibancho, Aoba-ku in Sendai City. Keeping close contact with the Miyagi Prefectural Government, AAR JAPAN is to continue the emergency operation from this base.

Your kind support is urgently needed.


Huge Earthquake Strikes Northern Japan - AAR JAPAN Gets Ready to Send Staff

AAR JAPAN to Dispatch Staff Members for Relief Activities for the Survivors of the Earthquake and Tsunami

TOKYO (March 11, 2011) A massive earthquake hit Japan at 2:46 pm, March 11, immediately followed by repeating waves of devastating tsunami. The Tohoku (north-east) region has been seriously affected. More than 1,000 people have lost their lives and many are still missing.

The disaster was triggered by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake. It is said to be nearly 8,000 times stronger than the one which hit Christchurch, New Zealand last month.
AAR JAPAN will dispatch its staff members to the disaster-stricken area and provides support to the afflicted people.

AAR JAPAN is a Japanese NGO established in 1979 to support Indo-Chinese refugees. Since then, AAR JAPAN has been engaged in emergency relief operations to the victims of disasters, including those affected by Kobe Earthquake and Mid-Niigata Prefecture Earthquake which hit Japan in 1995 and in 2004 respectively.