Japan’s Churches to Help House Survivors
Hundreds of thousands left homeless by
To assist them, churches in
The effort is being coordinated through the National Christian Council in Japan, which is working with Church World Service to find housing for 1,000 individuals. CWS estimates that some 300,000 people are living in more than 2,300 evacuation sites across
The Rev. Claudia Genung-Yamamoto, a United Methodist missionary who serves as a council liaison, said she expected that most of the placements would be in
On its own, she said, Kobe Union Church has found church families willing to temporarily house evacuees coming through that city. The Wesley Center in Tokyo also has assisted Filipino refugees.
The chaos caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck northeastern
The National Christian Council in
The United Church of Christ in
UMCOR expects to support relief and recovery efforts by the Korean Christian Church in Japan, Asian Rural Institute, the
Expanding the Appeal
Takeshi Komino, head of emergencies for the Church World Service Asia/Pacific office, expanded the relief agency’s appeal for
Even a country as well-prepared as Japan cannot cope without outside assistance when dealing with the compounding disasters of earthquake, tsunami, nuclear threat and freezing winter weather, he pointed out in a March 27 letter.
“Victims that I interviewed echo the same point that relief efforts reported in the media are not reaching them, which tells us (there is) huge variation on where needs are somewhat being met, and not being met at all,” Komino said.
The National Christian Council in Japan is coordinating its work with the newly-established Christian Coalition in
People from all regions of
On March 22, for example, the pastor of
Ishinomaki, a city of nearly 165,000 known for its fish market, was devastated by the disaster. Ten thousand were missing after a wave estimated at 20 to 30 feet high swept into the port.
“The scars left from the tsunami are deep, and we hear that water lines are still out,” wrote Shinichiro Asayama in the disaster center’s blog. “Gas and kerosene are still of short supply, and people are happy to receive any supplies if delivered. Next, they will need volunteers to help carry water and to clean up houses that were flooded by water.”
Anxiety for the Future
The Rev. Jeffrey Mensendiek, a United Church of Christ missionary and the relief center’s interim coordinator, visited the
Many in the city, however, have lost their homes, their jobs and the schools for their children, he said.
“The pastor and wife of
Such volunteers are essential to the relief effort, Komino said. When he and other CWS staff went to Ishinomaki, “it was evident that government-led efforts are too slow to cope with such needs on the ground” and that volunteers working with the affected population “will play a key role in identifying needs and matching them with supply.”
To support UMCOR’s assistance to relief efforts in
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in