In 11 March 2011, Japan experienced an extraordinary human crisis. Following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, a resulting tsunami and the ongoing problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, at least 16,000 people died, 4,000 are still missing and more than half a million others were left homeless.
The disaster affected a 2,000-kilometre north-south stretch of Japan. Many cities were hit by this series of disasters, including Tokyo, Fukushima, Koriyama, Shirakawa and Mito City. The disaster has affected a 2,000 kilometre north-south stretch of Japan.
The Japanese city nearest to the center of the earthquake was northern Sendai, which – because of its location in the country – experienced the greatest amount of damage. Located around 400 kilometers away from the capital city of Tokyo, Sendai suffered from destroyed buildings, damaged roads, devastated houses and other major difficulties.
The Salvation Army sent its first of three teams to Sendai. In this area, the Salvos provided vital assistance, serving about 1,000 meals to evacuees by March.
Another team distributed water, biscuits, blankets, nappies and tissue boxes to evacuees of the Mito area. The third – and final – team was initially headed to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, but was diverted to other areas to support evacuees.
The fuel and weather problems also meant that travel has been very difficult for The Salvation Army (at one stage, public transport was stopped in Tokyo and many roads all over Japan were unavailable to the public).
International Emergency Services worker Major Raelton Gibbs commended the work of the Salvos’ volunteers, staff and officers.
“The work that has been done is commendable – from feeding programmes out of Salvation Army halls to the distribution of blankets, water bottles, bread and nappies,” Major Gibbs said.
There has been also been considerable financial reponse both nationally and internationally. The Japan Territory used funds available in-country to cover the costs of response, using money raised worlwide to enable for a medium to long-term response: The Salvation Army's Korea Territory arranged for the K-Water Corporation to provide 100,000 bottles of water to be sent to Japan.