2012: Hilfe für Ausländer

NCC Japan - Tohoku HELP

Non-Japanese Disaster Victim Relief Project

Interim Report & Activity Journal 
September 2011 - August 2012

Sendai Christian Alliance Disaster Relief Network (Touhoku HELP)
National Christian Coalition for Basic Law on Foreign Residents (Gaikikyo)
            [Gaikikyo changed its name in Januuary 2012] 
NPO Corporation Egao no Otetsudai (NPO Egao) 

◆Relief Project

The people of Tohoku are struggling day and night to recover from the destruction caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Not all the residents of Tohoku are Japanese. Many people of foreign origin have taken root in the Tohoku area, for many different reasons (in March 2011, there were 75,000 non-Japanese living in the city and towns covered by the Disaster Relief Act). These non-Japanese residents share in the same struggles as their Japanese neighbors, and in some ways are having an even tougher time in this difficult situation.

Like the elderly, children, and the disabled, non-Japanese are also at a particular disadvantage as disaster victims. The Non-Japanese Disaster Victim Relief Project was founded in September 2011 by three organizations, Touhoku HELP, Gaikikyo, and NPO Egao, with the support of overseas churches, to focus on non-Japanese victims and share their burdens.

There are three aspects of this Relief Project.

(1) Surveys
(2) Programs to support independence
(3) Sharing information and building networks


The first step in the Non-Japanese Disaster Victim Relief Project was to find out what was actually happening.

Much of the information concerning non-Japanese disaster victims that was circulating during the disaster was inaccurate and extreme. Rumors included, "All the non-Japanese have run away for fear of aftershocks and radioactive contamination," "Non-Japanese are taking advantage of the disorder caused by the earthquake to commit crimes," and "Non-Japanese are being discriminated against in shelters and temporary housing."

So what are the actual difficulties faced by non-Japanese who live in the disaster-affected areas? We started carrying out surveys by the three methods described below, in order to arrive at an accurate understanding of the issues they face.

In April 2012, we also established the Non-Japanese Disaster Victim Relief Center in Sendai. This center was established to expand our survey activities and link them with the relief project.

Through these surveys, encounters, and relief activities, we have been able to bring to light the reality of the actual problems faced by non-Japanese residents.

1. Personal Contacts
Non-Japanese residents of Japan form communities of varying sizes depending on their nationalities and ethnicities. The Relief Center allocated staff able to speak the languages concerned to start surveying these various communities. We also established a telephone consultation service, distributed pamphlets to various related parties, and waited for non-Japanese disaster victims to contact us.

2. Visits to Temporary Housing
Non-Japanese were dispersed more widely around the disaster-affected areas than we had envisaged. We therefore sent staff to survey temporary housing in Minami Sanriku and Ishinomaki on a daily basis.

At the same time as the survey teams carried out surveys of temporary housing, they also delivered rice sent to us from various churches and the Asian Rural Institute as part of the Rice of Hope Project. In Minami Sanriku, NPO Egao visited all 60 areas of temporary housing, and was able to deliver rice to each house.

3. Joint Survey by University Researcher and Local Government
Professor Kihwan Kwak of Tohoku Gakuin University produced a questionnaire to help identify and analyze the circumstances of non-Japanese affected by the disaster. With the help of the Ishinomaki City Office, this questionnaire was sent to the 400 non-Japanese aged over 20 who were living in Ishinomaki City in March 2012. We received replies from 92 people.

Of the 92 respondents, 39 requested assistance from Touhoku HELP and NPO Egao. The Relief Center requested assistance from Touhoku HELP and NPO Egao. The Relief Center carried out further interview surveys of these respondents, and began providing them with emergency assistance in June.

◆Programs to Support Independence

1. Walking Alongside Non-Japanese Disaster Victims
As in all disaster victim relief projects, our goal is to "walk alongside" non-Japanese victims until they are able to support themselves.

We are providing several forms of assistance to cater to their needs, as identified from the surveys and from conversations with non-Japanese residents affected by the disaster.

2. Emergency Assistance
In addition to carrying out surveys, we are providing various forms of emergency assistance, such as accompanying non-Japanese residents to the City Office or to the Immigration Center, and assisting children who have lost their parents (children who have their roots in foreign countries) to attend school.

3. Japanese Lessons
A relatively high proportion of non-Japanese living in Tohoku comprises women who came to Japan to marry Japanese men. This trend started around the end of the 1990s, as insufficient Japanese women were willing to marry men in agricultural and fishing villages. The biggest problem we found in our conversations with them was the "communication barrier," as they had not acquired sufficient language skills. This problem, which was already an issue before the earthquake, made things all the more difficult for these women when they lost their families, property, and livelihoods as a result of the earthquake.

Japanese classes for migrant women from countries such as Korea, China, and the Philippines have been started in Furukawa Ward in Osaki, Minami Sanriku, and Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture in order to foster their communication skills, improve their living environment, and support their efforts to find work after the disaster. Preparations are also underway to offer lessons in their mother tongues to children whose roots are in foreign countries.

4.Assistance with Program to Support the Independence of Filipino Women in Fukushima
Radioactive contamination due to the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is severely affecting the health and livelihoods of non-Japanese permanent residents.

Even under these circumstances, one group of Filipino women is determined to keep on living in Fukushima, despite their anxieties. This group, called HAWAK KAMAY FUKUSHIMA ("Fukushima let's hold hands") established a self-support organization on March 2011, which aims to establish foundations for their livelihood and create a stronger community. They are starting an English school, and are preparing to set up a preschool for young children.

We are assisting their activities together with church related organizations including the YWCA, the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK; Japanese Anglian/Episcopal Church), and CTIC (Catholic Tokyo International Center).

◆Sharing Information and Building Networks

Our project is not the only form of aid being offered to non-Japanese in the disaster-affected areas. They are also being supported by many municipalities and international friendship associations, religious groups, NGO/NPO relief projects, and others.

We have already held two symposia to share in these activities and to establish a network for cooperation and coordination. On November 8, 2011, church-related organizations, individual churches, international friendship associations, human rights NGOs, and scholars were invited to a symposium titled "The Present Situation of Non-Japanese Disaster Victims: Our Issue" at the United Church of Christ in Japan Tohoku Parish Center/Emmaus. The issues and objectives of support for non-Japanese disaster victims were also discussed at the meetings listed below.

●Baekki Heo


Um den vollständigen und detailreichen Bericht zu lesen, öffnen Sie bitte diese pdf.

2. Non-Japanese Disaster Victim Relief Center. 2012 Activity Diary
3. Issues identified by the survey in Ishinomaki: Current circumstances and opinions of nin-Japanese disaster victims.