[9 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami]
With each day that has passed
March 11, 2020. Nine years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
We express our deepest condolences to those whose lives were lost, and to the bereaved families.
The whereabouts of 2,529 people remains unknown even today, and there are 47,737 people still living in evacuation. Each and every person has a life which cannot be expressed in numbers, and each of the 3,288 days which has passed cannot be expressed just by the 9th anniversary.
Since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Peace Boat Disaster Relief (PBV) has worked together with many volunteers, in several disaster affected areas. An elderly man standing at a loss in front of his submerged home; an elderly woman who mourns the loss of connections in the community. Anyone can experience a disaster; but at such a time, it is those people in more socially or economically weak positions who suffer most. Disasters vividly bring to light the vulnerabilities within a society.
Currently, the new Coronavirus is spreading around the world, and societal unrest is also increasing both within Japan and globally. This invisible fear reminds us of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, and even more, of the subsequent damage caused by radiation. Fear of the invisible can potentially lead people to make irrational and unscientific behaviour. Such social unrest can also foment latent discrimination and prejudice, and often creates division. It is of course urgently necessary to stop the further spread of contagion, prevent infection, and treat the affected people as soon as possible. Yet, we must be wary of division based on nationality or region, or the presence of absence of contagion.
At the same time, people are refraining from gathering together, schools are being closed, and cultural and economic activities are also affected. In the sense of existing social systems being at risk, it can be said that this is a form of disaster. Are there children who have lost a place to go, now that they cannot go to school? What happens to the work of part-time or casual workers, as well as freelancers? What is the future of small and medium size enterprises, who are struggling to operate? We must imagine the background and situation of those most easily affected, and not forget to stand by them.
Yet, we know.
In disaster-affected areas, we see more than just sad events. The times we see volunteers rushing from all over saying, "I want to do something to help." The times we see survivors chatting over a bowl of hot rice. These times encourage us also. To imagine the situation of, and support, “that person” who might be far away is also a way to protect yourself, and protect your loved ones.
Tomorrow, another day begins.