Mar 20, 2011

Japan Earthquake 5: SAITAMA support center opens

Bishop Tani of Saitama has announced yesterday that the Saitama diocese had opened the Saitama Diocese Support Center for the relief operation in his diocese for victims of both recent disaster and the crisis caused by the nuclear power plant in Fukushima.  At this moment, the center is located within the diocesan chancellery office but it may be relocated in Mito soon.

According to Bishop Tani, the Support Center has 4 objectives at this moment.  First of all, it will assist Sendai Diocese Support Center to establish a group of volunteers to visit victims in shelters.  Secondly, through visitation by volunteers in Ibaragi, Northern Tochigi, Southern Fukushima, it will provide victims psychological care, medical support and language support.  Then it will coordinate among parishes and religious houses within the diocese to provide temporary shelter for victims.

You may contact the Saitama diocese support center at 090-9972-4946.  Rev. Deacon Yabuki is in charge.

Yesterday afternoon, 2 staff members of JLMM (Japan Lay Missionaries Movements) stopped at Niigata Bishop's House on their way to Sendai via Yamagata.  They will join the Sendai Diocese Support Center to help the staff members of Caritas Japan to form the basis of entire relief activities in Sendai diocese.  I went out with them to one of the biggest "Home Center (hardware store)"  in Niigata to purchase several goods needed for the Sendai center.  (Photo above)

It has been not so easy for private sector to fully pour our potential capacity into the disaster area because of typical Japanese bureaucratic system.  I have several experiences of being in a conflict zone as a Caritas member out side Japan.  Compare with the working situation of NGOs including Caritas in these areas, here in Japan, the private sectors or NGOs have tremendous difficulties to be recognized as partners of public sectors.  Japanese government does not declare any emergency and usual bureaucratic process has to be observed with quite limited exceptions.  This is one of the reason why Caritas Japan members have difficulties to reach the most affected area immediately after the disaster had happened.  But we are doing our best to maximize our effort to support victims.

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