Recovery in Japan is both Fast and Slow

Post a Comment » Written on March 9th, 2012     
Filed under: Disaster Relief
Last month I visited the earthquake and tsunami affected area of northeast Japan for the third time.  I lived in Japan for nearly twenty-five years and we often experienced earthquakes, but never any close to the March 11 quake which was the largest in Japan’s recorded history. Hundreds of miles of coastline including numerous villages were destroyed by the tsunami that hit about thirty minutes after the earthquake. Ninety five percent of the thousands who died drowned.

It was amazing to see how quickly the recovery has taken place. Most of the rubble has been cleared. Roads and bridges have been repaired. The majority of the thousands of people who lost their homes are now living in temporary housing constructed by the government. Compared to Haiti this is amazing progress.  However, what is obvious is that in many ways, most of which are not visible, the recovery will continue for years. CWR partners continue to provide food and supplies to those who are still in need. The number of people who have these kinds of needs continues to decline.

What has been clear from all of my visits is that the emotional toll, including the thousands of people who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, has been enormous. This kind of emotional damage cannot be quickly and easily cleaned up. Pastor Iwatsuka, who is part of the church network that CWR has been helping to support, explained the importance of spending time with those who have been through the disaster and listening to their stories over and over. On a recent visit a man living in temporary housing said to Pastor Iwatsuka, “Thank you so much for visiting today.  Every time you visit another piece of rubble is removed from my heart.”

Pastor Shimizu, the leader of the Japan Covenant Church, told me, “We expect to be involved in the earthquake recovery for years to come. We are thankful to those in the ECC who have prayed for Japan and given so generously to make long term recovery ministries possible.”


–Dave Husby



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