The Sendai Diocese Support Meeting was held in Iwaki city on 26 April, Friday, from 9:30 am to 3 pm. This meeting was the 20th gathering of this group since the massive disaster in Tohoku on 11 March, 2011. Iwaki city is in Fukushima Prefecture and around 40 to 50 km south of Fukushima No1 Nuclear Power Station which is still under critical condition after the Tsunami disaster. Within Iwaki city, there are 13 groups of temporary housings for evacuees. Some of them are housed in private apartments which had been hired by local governments. According to the government's statistics, more than three hundred and then thousand people are still unable to return to their original area in entire disaster hit area in Tohoku. Most of the disaster hit area is in Sendai diocese.
The meeting was chaired by Bishop Hiraga of Sendai and attended by 17 plus participants including 5 Bishops. This monthly meeting is to coordinate relief efforts of Catholic Church in Japan within Sendai Diocese. Three ecclesiastical provinces, Tokyo, Osaka and Nagasaki had established their volunteer bases and have been sending team of volunteers to support people. These provinces were represented by Bishop Koda, Bishop Suwa and Bishop Hamaguchi respectively. I represented Bishops' Conference relief team with Fr. Kanda and Mr Hamaguchi, both from Osaka and Fr. Narui, SVD who had been a director of Sendai Support Center and the director of Caritas Japan till the end of March. Though Fr. Narui has been appointed as JPIC coordinator for entire SVD (Divine Word Missionaries) congregation, he may help us as a member of my team as far as his time permits.
At the beginning of this meeting, two people from Okuma town shared their stories after the disaster. Okuma town is where four of 6 power plants of Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Station are located and, as it is now, 96% of the area is closed for civilians to enter. These two mothers of young kids from Okuma town had to evacuate from their homes after the accident of nuclear power plants and unable to return since then.