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We won’t forget our Japanese sisters and brothers…

We won’t forget our Japanese sisters and brothers…

April 7, midnight, Japan. A magnitude 7.1 aftershock scared many people in Eastern Japan once again in the middle of the night on 7 April. The epicentre is located in about the same area as the major quake of March 11. This is the story.

April 13, 2011 | Andreas Mazza CD-EUD

April 7, midnight, Japan. A magnitude 7.1 aftershock scared many people in Eastern Japan once again in the middle of the night on 7 April. The epicentre is located in about the same area as the major quake of March 11. This is the story.

Friday, March 11, 2:46pm - Tokyo: “My wife and I are walking up the stairs that lead to the Metropolitan Theatre in Tokyo, close to the UENO underground station. On a small square in front of the theatre we see the trees moving in an unnatural manner. Initially, we enjoy what looks like a gimmick of modern technology in a hi-tech city. Then we see a crane shaking dangerously, we feel the earth move, we see the skyscrapers sway. People are starting to sit obediently on the floor, a few raise their voices - an orderly and disciplined nation, even under these circumstances. We sit for 2-3 chilling minutes on the floor. Then we have to decide what to do. All the underground stations are closed, the buses have stopped running. The taxis are all busy. The traffic goes crazy... Japanese television transmits images of the disaster. The Prime Minister Kan is constantly talking to the nation on the TV.”


The worst earthquake in the modern history of Japan, magnitude 8.9 which is recorded as the fifth biggest one in world history occurred on March 11, 2011, at 14:46, Japan time, on the Pacific coastline of the northeast region of Honshu, the main island. The quake was so massive that more than half of Honshu Island was shaken, including even the Tokyo area which is located about 400 km south of the devastated area. The tsunami warning was issued immediately throughout Japan. Within 30 minutes, the 6-meter-high tsunami (some parts were as high as 10 meters), struck the eastern coastline of Honshu.


The devastating natural disaster claimed more than 12,000 lives, and the number keeps rising as almost 15,000 remain missing, presumably dead. Nearly 158,000 people are trying to survive in makeshift homes and evacuation sites. Due to the quake, there was a leakage of radioactive materials at Fukushima Daiichi plant’s Unit One, some 250 kilometres northeast of Tokyo. Japan is facing one of the biggest crises since World War II. The government estimates the loss at between $188 billion and $293 billion; reconstruction could take years.
In Japan there are 115 churches and about 15,300 members, as well as a long list of institutions (42, including colleges, food factories, hospitals, retirement homes, etc.).


There are 17 churches, 10 schools and 5 other church institutions in the earthquake-affected areas. No church/school/institutional buildings have been affected by the earthquakes and tsunamis except 3 or 4 buildings that suffered slightly cracked walls. There are no casualties among church members.
ADRA Japan has responded, initially assisting people that were stranded in the central Tokyo area by operating a shelter in the central Adventist Church in Tokyo since underground and overground trains were unavailable for people to return home and the streets were too cold for stranded people to spend the night. ADRA Japan responded to 150 people in these initial operations.
ADRA Japan has dispatched an assessment team to the affected area with 2 vehicles loaded with materials and food, and distributes hot meals to a target of 500-600 families in evacuation centres in the area. Beneficiaries are jointly selected in cooperation with each concerned city or municipal Department of Social Welfare Services’ offices.


Hideo Watanabe, Program Officer of ADRA Japan, reached the affected area of Fukushima. He has seen roads collapsed and cracks along the way but recovery work is also under way. He reached the SDA Church in Fukushima city. He visited the prefectural head quarters for disaster control, getting feedback on the situation on the ground. ADRA staff members met with the DSS (Department of Social Services) of the Miyagi prefecture. According to the DSS the information is still very limited. However, 2 wards (Miyagino and Wakabayashi) in Sendai City have established a Volunteer Coordination Centre. According to the DSS report, the great need in the area is for water and food. The loc

al government has appointed ADRA Japan to support an evacuation centre in Wakabayashi ward in Sendai city, Miyagi prefecture. This evacuation centre is a public junior high school. At the centre (school), about 320 people spend nights and approximately 1,000 people come to receive meals. 
Unfortunately, the earth continued to tremble.

Thursday, April 7. A magnitude 7.1 aftershock scared many people in Eastern Japan again. The epicentre is located at about the same area as the major quake of 11 March. The tsunami alert was announced on the coastline area of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures and even though it was midnight many people ran. However, there was no significant tsunami reported.

The official report up to now is 4 dead, 140 injured; 2.6 million homes were without electricity for a long time.
We have confirmed all of the Adventist Churches in the region had no damage. ADRA staff and volunteers are safe and well. ADRA staff set up the base camp with storage tents, office and staff tents; tents operating this week in the civic centre of Yamamoto city. There are 9 displaced camps in the city vicinity with 3440 displaced people, most of whom lost their homes to the tsunami, since the city faces the ocean as a fishing city.
Sabbath, April 9, Andy Espinoza, pastor of the Tokyo International Adventist Church wrote: “We are in Tokyo. Just a few minutes ago there was another quake. We are doing what we can to support ADRA and the churches that have been damaged.”

Even if the situation seems to be under control, the population is alarmed about what will happen next: a damaged nuclear reactor emitting hazardous radiation, aftershocks that are expected to occur, etc. What touched me most was the reaction of the Japanese people: simply extraordinary. Order, calm and discipline. A people who feel a great need for love and human affection. A people that has great material wealth, but who need the presence and love of Jesus.

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