70 Japanese students volunteer to help clean Canada’s shores of tsunami debris

70 Japanese students volunteer to help clean Canada’s shores of tsunami debris

TOKYO —

On March 11, 2011 Hiroki Takai was studying at a university in Vancouver. Instead of feeling helpless at the steadily flowing images of destruction in the media following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, he quickly took action and gathered other Japanese students to raise money for their homeland. Thanks to the students’ efforts and the generosity of the people of Vancouver the “Japan Love Project” managed to raise CAN$320,000.

Now, with the 3-year anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake approaching, Takai wanted to pay the kindness of the Canadians back. As a part of the International Volunteer University Student Association (IVUSA) he asked for a team to travel to the west coast of Canada to help clean up the still-increasing driftage that is washing up on its shores. Headed by fourth-year Ritsumeikan University student Yusuke Oike, a crew of 70 students answered the call.

Oike is a member of the Ai Tsunagu Project, a part of the IVUSA that has been active at relief and rebuilding efforts in earthquake and tsunami affected areas of Japan. In this Canadian project their goal is threefold.

First, from March 7 to 14, the students aim to remove ten tons of debris from the beaches of Vancouver Island. Although ten tons sounds like a lot, it’s only a portion of the 1.5 million tons that the Ministry of the Environment has estimated to have been floating in the Pacific Ocean since 2011.

The group is working in cooperation with Karla Robison, the environmental and emergency services manager in Ucluelet who will help to process the collected debris. According to Yahoo! Japan News, she said, “I’m thrilled to have so many students come to help. It’s real proof of their friendship.”

Secondly, the students also hope to recover any sentimental items that may have survived the trip to North America and return them to their owners. Perhaps something as simple as a lost trinket could help bring solace to a struggling family in Japan. Unfortunately, even with 70 volunteers it is a large job in a short time. Moreover, much of it will be done in remote parts of Vancouver Island.

The students themselves are paying for the airfare and accommodations, but to help cover the costs of transportation in Canada, they have taken to Japanese crowdfunding site Readyfor. 

Source: Readyfor via Yahoo! News Japan

Read more stories from RocketNews24.
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  • 4

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Wow! And just one of my Japanese students is out there in Vancouver! I hope she is also trying to help! If not,well 70 students from Japan should get some free beer and pizza from the nice Canadian folk in that area. 3 years ago it was Japan's North Eastern region that got hit and hit very HARD by quakes, tsunamis, and now that pesky radiation. But you just never know when your own part of the world will be NEXT! Arigato Japanese students in CANADA!!

  • 9

    JoshuYaki

    I don't think that anyone in Japan owes us (Canada) for a natural disaster. The gesture is very much appreciated. I am sure most Canadian people would love a few minutes over a beer or a coffee to say thanks for sure...

  • 5

    OneHapa

    Kudos to these students. Great to see their initiative and it will be good for international relations at a personal level.

  • 5

    Osaka_Doug

    Nice to see the students catching on and enjoying the volunteer movements worldwide.

  • 6

    TrevorPeace1

    I, for one, am heading from Victoria to Ucluelet to lend a hand. And I'm only white Japanese. I know some great places to stay, and the car takes four. Any takers for the other seats?

  • 7

    smithinjapan

    Good on these young people, and thank you, from a Canadian.

  • 5

    edwardw

    Glad to see these students going abroad and gaining some life experience. Volunteering is always good. They should try connecting to the Tomodachi Initiative for support. I am a little confused however by the name of the group "Japan Love Project" But good on them for helping out.

  • 3

    Sensato

    Few Japanese people realize it, but because the ocean current flows from Japan to North America, debris from Japan regularly washes up on North American shores, particularly after storms (and historically particularly after other tsunamis). This has been happening for thousands of years. Although lots of this trash litters West Coast shorelines, it also at times provides some exciting finds for beachcombers.

    Historically, every once in a great while Japanese fishermen would even wash up on those shores. The last time this happened I believe was in 1834 when three Japanese fishermen, Iwakichi, Kyukichi, and Otokichi washed up in northwest Washington State (details on Wikipedia). They later made their way down to the Hudson's Bay Company in Astoria, Oregon (home of the first English speaker to teach English in Japan, Ranald MacDonald, who came to Japan in 1848). In 1837, an American merchant ship tried to repatriate them, but the vessel was repealed by cannon fire in Edo Bay.

  • -15

    AnonymousArizonan

    Students should not be handling potentially radioactive, among other things (it did cross the ocean, which is full of nasty hings, mostly from humans + a lot of it was probably gross to begin with, just based on the kinds of debris that get reported as making it to North America), debris. Professionals who specifically get paid to do this, know what they're doing, and have things set up for compensations should be doing it. Volunteers should be illegal from trying to touch this stuff, because they have no right to do so (it's not theirs, and it's not their land), and because they are likely to hurt themselves in some wa in the process... Then, likely file lawsuits over it, and to who exactly?

  • 1

    sf2k

    Thank you! Which university?

  • 5

    darknuts

    @AnonymousArizonan This is debris from the tsunami. That happened before the fukushima incident. It's not radioactive. If it was, the whole place would have been blocked off.

  • 1

    timbo

    @AnonymousArizonan, you could at least give these young people credit. If there are dangers, the Canadian Govt. will be available for assistance. As for others' belongings shoring up, they do plan, where possible, to return them to their rightful owners.

  • -1

    Tessa

    This is debris from the tsunami. That happened before the fukushima incident. It's not radioactive.

    And the waves just stopped there, did they? That's good to know.

  • -1

    overchan

    Some people just love to kill the mood.

  • 0

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii

    I would be interested how much radiation is in that debris.

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