Sep 17, 2011

Six months have passed

Six months have passed since 11 March when massive earthquake and unimaginable tsunami hit northeastern Japan and took around 20,000 precious human lives away.  Ecumenical prayer services were organised in several cities in Japan including one organised in our Cathedral in Niigata.

Still so many people are unable to return to normal life and staying in temporary housings.  Those from Fukushima nuclear power plant area are even unable to clear their own houses after they were hit by tsunami because quite a lot of towns are within the evacuation zone.  Catholic Church has been actively working for those affected people especially in Sendai Diocese.  Caritas Japan has been cooperating with Sendai Diocese since 16 March and running the Sendai Diocese Support Center which coordinates volunteers who have been sent to coastal parishes in Iwate, Miyagi.  Entire Catholic Church in Japan has also started its effort to support victims.  Each of 3 ecclesiastical provinces, Tokyo, Osaka and Nagasaki are opening their respective bases in the area to send volunteers to support local efforts to rehabilitate.  Bishop Hiraga of Sendai has issued a pastoral letter on 11 September to announce that the diocese will continue its effort to support people through the Sendai Diocese Support Center till March, 2012.  But he also believe that it may take many more years for people to return to normal life so that he will reflect and reorganise the activities of the SDSC every 6 month.

In Niigata on 11 September at 3 pm, more than 70 people joined the prayer service presided over by me.  Rev. Pastor Obuchi of Niigata Shinanomachi Church delivered his homily.  Similar kind of ecumenical prayer service were held all over Japan.

Since the time of the disaster, I received quite a number of request for interview from abroad, especially from Catholic medias.  One same question has been asked by many which I do not have exact answer.  Many have asked me why Japanese were so calm after the disaster, even queueing patiently to buy food stuff in remaining stores.  Why there were no riots?  I do not know.  Some say it is because of Japanese culture.  Some say it is because Japanese high standard of public moral.  Some say it is because Japanese do not want to act differently from others.  I really do not know the real reason but one thing I can say is that we, Japanese, should learn something out of this experience.  Our society in general had been loosing sense of public morality or sense of helping each other.  We have to get these moral sense back into our society out of this experience.

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