Fukushima, two years after

How the organizations manage to face the catastrophe? How the organizations are trying to make light of government failure? How the government is facing the crisis?

Friday, March 11th 2011, the country of the Rising Sun knows one of the biggest environmental disasters in its history. A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 8.9, the strongest ever recorded in Japan, triggering a tsunami several meters high, which ravaged the east coast of Japan. Two year after the disaster, victim assistance continues to flow. Faced with a discredited government for its mismanagement of the crisis, the organizations are trying to socially reintegrated victims.









Tokyo, an electronic city looking for light


The Japanese capital continues to swarm before a vital reduction of city lights.

Tokyo in a silence and lights. Those patchinkos, karaoke, electronics stores in the heart of the electric town of Akihabara. A vertical gaze buries ourselves into the middle of a bustling city. At 7 pm and out of office, a wave of businessmen in black suit and white shirt, converge to the nearest subway station nearest. It seems far away March 11th 2011. Yet the country’s electricity is at its maximum. Following the tsunami and earthquake that stroke down the country and damaged the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant, a dozen reactors were suddenly arrested in the central north-eastern Japan. And some risky plants, were stopped at Hamaoka (central Japan). In May 6th, 2011, Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan asked to the developer Chubu Electric Power to suspend the functioning of all the reactors of the nuclear power plant of Hamaoka. There is indeed a 87 % probability that an earthquake of magnitude 8,0 strikes the region of Tokay, in 30 years. Measures must be thus taken to resist the effects of such an earthquake, understanding in particular the construction of a dike 12 meters high to protect the station of a tsunami and an extra height of the diesel emergency generators. Naoto Kan also announces that Japan is going to make «efforts to promote the renewable energies “. On March 3rd, 2012, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announces that Japan has to «extract of its dependence towards the nuclear power “. The last reactor in service, Tomari 1 on the island of Hokkaido, closes for inspection on May 6th 2012. Now all the reactors are “officialy” stopped but the Prime Minister does not exclude reactivating them to assure the electric smugness during summer. Last year only 13 of 54 nuclear reactors were operated. This represented a 75% off reactors now 0% are working. The reduction of the nuclear electric production, forces companies and private individuals to minimize their consumption. The TEPCO power company (Tokyo Electric Power) has to reduce its electricity supply.

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In front of TEPCO headquarter follows one another a series of demonstrations against the nuclear power. It is far from events of March. However, some anti-nuclear irreducible are there. Since the disaster some became aware of the danger of the nuclear power: “I do not think the general population has understood the danger,” said a protester Naoko. More than an opposition to the nuclear power, it is against the use of Burakumin that set up themselves the demonstrators. Pariah of the Japanese society, they were used as liquidators of the power plant of Fukushima. People are speaking of “crime.” they are denouncing”. And what about the government? People do not want to talk about. No answer. It tilts his head by extending a big “huh. “” I do not know “people reply to me. Behind the apparent calm, fatalism, acceptance of the disaster is there hidden-opposition? “We help the victims, we do not debate on the government’s action,” says a Tokyo-it who prefer to stay anonymous. After ten months, the priority is always to help. They prefer not to argue. Or do not say. “Freedom of the press is recognized in Japan, but I doubt it is really applied, I know it does not say anything,” said Eiji Fukuyama(1) a Japanese living in France back in Japan for Christmas. “In France, you really have a virulent press and satirical newspapers as Canard Enchainé. In Japan this does not exist. Japanese don’t want to talk. It’s a shame. “Yet the radioactive danger is present.» We all pay attention to what we eat. “Tokyo-it avoid raw fish essential for famous sushi. Vegetables, including cabbage and mushrooms that concentrate radioactivity (such as shitake pronounce Chitake) are often banned. For this reason, many Becquerel Center emerged across the capital. Only the wealthy Japanese (count 10,000 yen or about 100 euros for a test) can test the radioactivity of their vegetables before consumption. Again, it is the doctors who advise and alert. For the moment, the government is concerned instead of reconstruction. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda gives priority to the search for new sources of funding for reconstruction. The goal is to reach 16.2 trillion yen (133.5 billion euros) by March 2023. In the capital of silence aids come from all sides. Companies, especially, are dedicated to early recovery of Japan. Every effort is focus on reconstruction. Now travel by train between Tokyo and Fukushima, are offered to Japanese to boost the attractiveness of these areas. Posters are put up in the subway and JR (train) to encourage people to reduce their electricity consumption.
Curious that in the country of the Rising Sun, the pursuit of light has become a concern.

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A few kilometers south of Tokyo. In the city of Yokohama I am immersed in a walkabout. Disembarking of the Keihin Tohoku Line, the disaster that struck Japan on March 11th seems far away. Yet, in the midst of the crowd, all participated in one way or another. How to recover? “The support is all of us: everyone involved with the means in his possession” addresses Miwa Kimura ,a voluntary of organization Hanakaoru and employee of the company Nissan … We avoid talking about the nuclear disaster, of Fukushima, we prefer to talk about the tsunami. We talk about what we saw. We talk about ongoing reconstruction and massive aid to Tohoku … In front of an okonomiyaki (Japanese omelette) we speak lightly of our lives. Then, on a more serious tone, she declares that the organization “engaged employees of the Nissan company, through the intranet e-mails, it goes faster.

“We collected 5000 participations in two days.” The support for the victims? It came by the money, by the donations of furniture, clothes, devices of household, electrical appliances and second-hand toys. Nevertheless, rather fast, the populations victims grew tired refused the second hand assistance.”The advantage of this organization is that we know where the help is redistributed. Unlike large organizations, where aid is sometimes too centralized, which can lead to abuses. “Today, volunteers go to meet the Japanese victims, often staying with relatives since the closure of centers in October … “The characteristic of this association is based on helping neighbors. A real support is implemented.

“However, some companies require their employees to work more (to offset financial losses) at the expense of neighborhood support. In retrospect, “the Japanese denounce the time it took for help to arrive. The intervention of the Red Cross itself has faced some dissension within it. On the one hand, proponents of building a new city on the other supporters of the distribution of aid to each claimant … In this Christmas season (period of reunion for couples in Japan), the association that participates Miwa, think to the children for Christmas. “We divided 18 boxes of chocolates in small packets for 500 school children. We have also joined a Nissan schedule. «Volunteers come every week after a long day of work, to bring help to Tohoku. The cars are loaned by Nissan Rental or rented cheaper. Volunteers sleep on the floor in sleeping bags. “It’s hard to see our country like that,” said a volunteer.

All aid Catholics and Buddhists are on the warpath, Miwa to add: “There is a fundamental difference between Buddhism and Christianity. For Buddhists, when you play you can get. While for Christians when you play you’re never sure of winning. Everything depends on the will of God. This is for this reason that Buddhists (majority over Christians in the country) are wondering why God did that to us?” Confused atmosphere. But help arrives massively. Schools are the primary beneficiaries. Again abuses are reported. “In the aftermath of the disaster some teachers have hijacked the help given to children to benefit” denounces a volunteer. How to make the backup works?


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Organizations helping Tohoku arose the question…. The money has sometimes not been used in a good way. Facing an overwhelming fate, a heavy sadness, mourning, the rows of Patchinkos (Japanese casinos) lengthened.” In a few days, some Japanese spent all the help received in the game” explain Miwa Kimura. Many Japanese have found these machines in a moment of respite. Given the urgency of the disaster many organizations have flourished. Saijo-san(3) ,a professor at Waseda University has something innovative. He creates a website that offered massive aid and participatory via the Internet. Japanese needy victims, express their wishes on a list dedicated to this purpose.

Individuals throughout Japan buy and send by Takkyubin (national company delivery service) necessary objects. “The advantage, says a volunteer, is that products shipped meet the real needs of victims who are, in addition, new objects.” What emerges? The specialization of these organizations. While the Saijo-san‘s website: http://wallpaper.fumbaro.org/en/  is specialized in household goods, others are specializes in the removal of debris: “It is because organizations are specialized, that the aid reaches quickly and effectively intervenes.”
So how to recover? When asked what needs Japan? “Difficult question” people reply to me of a quick glance and fled. A last sip of tea, look sweeps the room: “We are so far from the disaster! Look at people they seem carefree … The country is much more difficult to reconstruct with the crisis. The reconstruction of Tohoku is not over; it remains to «give a breath of life to the region.”

Table of the disaster



Affected area 

Ishinomaki, Soma, Ofuna









Destroyed buildings


Help countries

163 pays

Money spent

20.500 milliards de yens

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