Mar 15

Earthquake: Perspective From Japan

Written by Dipika Soni (Ishikawa-ken, 2003-06). Dipika currently works as an in-house translator for PFU (a Fujitsu company) in Kahoku-shi, Ishikawa-ken. She is also the vocalist for the Japanese hardcore punk band DEGRADE.

“How can we help?” is the most frequently asked question I have been hearing over the last few days. For my neighbours in the small coastal town of Hodatsushimizu in Ishikawa prefecture, situated on the Sea of Japan, the horror of last week’s tsunami which effortlessly wiped out whole towns is only too poignant. Friends in my local JET and foreign communities are struggling to understand the truth of the situation due to the disparity between the seemingly down-played reports in the Japanese media and sensationalist approach to reports by certain western press. However, everyone is ready and willing to help in whatever way they can. Also eager to help are family and friends around the globe, who are constantly being bombarded with shocking headlines and devastating images of the disaster, causing tensions to run high as my presence in Japan makes them all the more connected.

When the earthquake struck shortly after 2:45pm Friday March 11th, I was sitting at my desk at work, when I started to feel a strange dizziness. It wasn’t until a minute later when other colleagues mentioned the same that we realized we were experiencing a tremor. Registering at only magnitude 3 here in Ishikawa prefecture, the earthquake was largely unfelt, with most people only noting a slight swaying and a seasick-like feeling. However, the length and number of aftershocks indicated the seriousness of the situation at the epicenter, as confirmed by the news reports that started to come in.

Like everyone else around the country (and world) we followed the news in disbelief and shock, uncertainty and a feeling of helplessness taking over. As the extent of the disaster began to unfold over the following days, these feelings have only intensified. While things remain calm and ‘normal’ here in Ishikawa (we are all going to work and have no shortages of food/water/electricity/gas), the nerves of the Japanese, foreign community, and family & friends back home are being tested daily. Although we are not directly affected here, we are all suffering from mixed feelings of fear, confusion, heartache and love for a country that is our home. For all of us now, remaining positive in the face of so much sadness and uncertainty is key.


How Can We Help?

[Donate Money]

This is the most effective and encouraged way to help. Various different funds and suggestions of organisation accepting donations have been doing the rounds. For direct donations to specifically address JET needs in affected areas, AJET has set up the AJET Relief Fund. (There are other recommended relief efforts supported by AJET also listed on the site).  Also, the JET Alumni Association (JETAA) is organizing a large fund raising effort as well.  Details to come.

Other suggested ways to donate:

  • British Red Cross
  • American Red Cross
  • Nippon Foundation CANPAN Project
  • Save the Children
  • Non-Believers Giving Aid
  • International Medical Corps
  • AMDA International
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • Be careful to donate through official channels as reports of criminals using this tragedy for monetary gain are already being reported.



    Planning is underway to assign volunteers once official groups can be coordinated. People are urged to stay where they are until official groups are in place. (The strain on limited supplies and infrastructure in the affected areas is already too great and unorganized volunteers would unfortunately cause more of a hindrance rather than a help).

    Volunteer information once available will be posted on JetWit as well as on Various groups that you can join have been set up on facebook, such as this one: I am/will be in Japan and want to volunteer in Tohoku


    [Give Blood]

    Check where you can donate locally. Here’s one resource listing blood donation rooms: Blood donation rooms etc. Do make sure to check if you can actually donate as there are strict rules. Here’s a good source of info on this: Who can and can not donate blood in japan


    [Save Electricity and Don’t Over-Stock Supplies]

    As scheduled blackouts are in place for most areas in the North-East, the whole country is being encouraged to save as much electricity as possible. Over stocking of supplies is being discouraged as panic has lead to stores selling out in the Tokyo area, raising concern that this will cause further strain on supplies needed in the worst stricken areas.


    [Offer Your Couch]

    A group has been setup on CouchSurfing where people in Japan can offer their homes as temporary accommodation for those affected by the earthquake. Check here:


    Comments are closed.

    Page Rank