Saturday, April 16, 2011

[Earthquake disaster document] Back to the disaster hit area – What hands of people can do

Everyday life is more fragile than we think. – The number of casualties of this earthquake is rising to the level that we never had in the past, and hundreds of thousands of people lost the base of their lives. The various affects are also seen among the people who did not suffer major damages. We asked for the articles to the people who live in Sendai, close to the epicenter and people who live in capital area.

Ryota Tosaka (living in Tokyo)
Musician, Restaurant Manager

Several days have passed since I returned to Tokyo and I looked back days I spent in Yamagata, Sendai, and Ishinomaki (Miyagi Pref.)

Tokyo seems to regain the normality little by little for the past several days and more people are back on the street. It is hard to believe that the disaster hit area, only 6 hours drive from here, is still in chaos and people are still being threatened by on-going disaster.

I feel awkward as if I left my heart in Ishinomaki City, and returned Tokyo as a shell, yet I try to think my future by digesting what I encountered.

The nuclear power plant is still in critical conditions, and aftershocks continue to occur. Passers-by look as if there was no earthquake disaster. But you would soon realize that they are only trying to act as calm as possible regardless the strong anxiety when you found that bottled water and beer were sold out at the stores in town. Everyone is distressed with what they need to do regarding the earthquake disaster and accidents at nuclear power plant that they never experienced before.

Those victims are worrying, suffering and bearing the pain beyond our imagination. I understood how enormous the damages of this earthquake disaster were after seeing them with my own eyes.

Sendai City is a large city. The vast area of the serious disaster in this city alone made me realize how huge the damage was considering the fact that most part of the Pacific coast in Tohoku area in Japan were about the same conditions.

Self Defense Force garrisons, policemen, firefighters, aids from overseas, and volunteer workers like me – so many people are trying to help their restoration, but it is still far short. Manpower is what they need most.

And hands of the people are what they can actually use for the help no matter how advanced the

technologies are, and how the communication becomes useful. Hands to remove the mud, hands to make rice balls, hands to carry the supplies, hands to treat patients, hands to hug and hold people in pain – it could be recognized as sharing the pain with body warmth.

You could tell those who are in pain “Don’t worry. Everything will heal easy.” But I realized how important it would be to share the feeling of pain with them by placing the hand on the wound and tell them “I know it hurts, but I’m sure it will heal. Let’s cure the wound together. “

You should do this not only for the people at the disaster hit area, but also for the close people who are tired and hurt.

The only gleam of certainty in the whirl of many anxieties and sorrows is the basic and simple hand treatment of human being, I believe.

I am writing this article in the car heading to Ishinomaki City. I will arrive there in the morning, and start my activity soon after. It passed about ten days since I went back to Tokyo. I am traveling with the hope that conditions have been improved any better, and my activity will contribute to the improvement at all.

Finally, I post a picture of smile that I met at emergency food distribution center. Even under the hard situation like this, and even for a moment the smile made me feel the strength and power of human beings. I firmly believe that someday the smile will be spread to more people and we’ll be able to laugh wholeheartedly.

April 8, 2011 (Friday)
Wall Street Journal (Japanese Edition)
Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano

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