Tsunami survivors suffer in silence three years after disaster

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  • 18

    JTDanMan

    Yea, sadly, this is the way it goes.

    I was in Kobe for the big earthquake. Two years after, there were many people still suffering: living in "temporary housing," displaced from their life-long community, PTSD, alcohol abuse, and even violence and suicide.

    I was fortunate to work for a company -- and had a boss/mentor -- that paid attention to these kind of things. Through hands-on voluntarism, I learned the hard way that it takes time, dedication and a whole lot of heart to help the victims of catastrophe. Many victims don't want or know what it is to get help. Many don't see or want t see themselves as "victims."

    Japanese are generally proud and independent people. Certainly, those in Kandai are. And I believe people from ura nihon all the more so. And they can afford to be, because they have their community to rely on. But with this kind of disaster, all bets are off. And too many do not how to accept the helping hand offered to them by "outsiders" -- those from another part of the country.

    I wish I were in Japan now. That way, I could go to the stricken area, go to those living in the "temporary housing" in the devastated communities and meet with some people there.

    And spend some time.

  • 11

    Himajin

    A book has been compiled of survivor stories. It has just been translated into English, and will be available soon:

    SURVIVING THE 2011 TSUNAMI:100 Testimonies of Ishinomaki Area Survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake

    津波からの生還 東日本大震災・石巻地方100人の証言

  • 8

    David Quintero Navarro

    Yes, it may be very difficult for others to understand the pain of these lone survivors in Tohoku, but 3 years back it was up in Tohoku Japan, and next it could be LA, Mexico City, Jakarta, New Zealand, you get the point?? You may be just fine and BANG!! In the blink of an eye!! So we are ALL connected and we must all help each other!!

  • 4

    mitokomonalex

    Listening and viewing documentary and news reports on 3/11 raises one big question with me. Where the hell did all the money donated to the bank counters, the Japan Red Cross, NHK, etc disappear to?

    My amateuristic estimation shows that each individual victim of the disaster could have been given around Y20,000,000 to do what he or she wants to do with the money from all the donations received from around the world and start a new life.

    Yet all I hear is the termination of various governmental support for families who leave the refugee camps to search for work and other reasons. I am also tired of seeing the Japanese royal family paying an hour visit to show pity and understanding when the refugees just need money to move away and start a new life.

  • 3

    Heda_Madness

    Interesting what you say Dan, about 'spending some time'. One of the (many) reasons why the Save Minami Soma project is successful is because their volunteers spend a bit of time with the residents and it also brings the residents together and helps their community.

    I believe that there are still a number of similar organisations doing the same across the region.

    Rikuzentakata is a place that will always get my emotions going. I hadn't heard of it 3 years ago and by April that year I couldn't stop thinking of it. The devastation started 7 km from the ocean and got worse as you went in. The entire city was gutted. And I was pleasantly surprised to see how much progress had been made in the clean up by the time we were back in the July.

    Whilst many of the media focus on the victims who are living in the shadow of Fukushima, it's important to remember that there were many more victims in Miyagi and Iwate. And many more who continue to suffer on a daily basis.

  • 9

    zichi

    The shock and horror of the 3/11 and all the days since will remain inside the mind of the survivors for their lifetime. I know people in Miyagi who still feel guilty because they survived.

    10 years after the Kobe earthquake there were still people living in plastic tents in the public parks and along the rivers. It took 15 tears to rebuild Kobe and the surrounding area. I think the reconstruction of Tohoku will take more than 30 years.

    Legally the temporary housing only has a life of 5 years and then its demolished. More than 10,000 units are badly in need of repairs. For many it will be a very long time building their homes and for others it will be never. The gov't needs to get ahead with building public housing.

    Even with all the removal of debris and reconstruction work, unemployment remain high with some people working for less than minimum wage.

  • 4

    Kabukilover

    I too survived the Kobe earthquake. What zichi says is true. The LDP politicians, like Kaifu, would helicopter in, go risk, risk and head back to Tokyo in time for cocktail hour. Yeah, where did the money for the tsunami victims go? And what is the ultranationalist Abe government doing to help real Japanese people in need.

  • 1

    Serrano

    “No stranger can understand what is in my heart. I must bear this alone,”

    I completely understand this. I have had to suffer in silence myself.

  • 0

    White_Shinobi

    Man.... Great read....

  • 3

    Jim Poushinsky

    Serrano says " 'No stranger can understand what is in my heart. I must bear this alone,' I completely understand this. I have had to suffer in silence myself."

    It sounds like your community is still in a state of shock, if you are each suffering in silence. Helping each other in an emergency is one thing, but being there to support each other in the long term is essential for recovery and healing. You are right that talking to strangers is not helpful, but talking to surviving family, friends, and neighbours who care can be very helpful! Also, it is not possible to heal the effects of psychological trauma when the trauma is still continuing. You must be in a safe place to do this, a safe space where you no longer need to be constantly on guard with your body physiologically ready for fight or flight. That is where outsiders can be helpful, as they can give you and your fellow survivors the financial and other resources to create a place of safety where you can support each other in healing yourselves. We each have compassion towards our fellow human beings in our hearts. Let it be our guide in doing what is for the highest purpose in healing this tragedy.

  • 4

    kaimycahl

    In times of tragedies the Government can send money and aide to other countries millions but when a tragedy strikes home they dont give they steal and misuse the donations for other things. Simply put they put on a good face to help other countries but when tragedy hits home they are slow to help their own.

  • 3

    NathalieB

    And what is the ultranationalist Abe government doing to help real Japanese people in need.

    Duh. They are holding the olympics to "raise peoples spirits" of course! (sarcasm)

  • 3

    sf2k

    “No stranger can understand what is in my heart. I must bear this alone,” she said, tears running down her face.

    This is a deplorable mental state and there is no reason why this woman or others like her need to suffer in silence and alone. What continues to baffle me is how the rest of the population wilfully forgets them. Sad

  • 5

    NathalieB

    Jim Poushinsky

    Also, it is not possible to heal the effects of psychological trauma when the trauma is still continuing. You must be in a safe place to do this, a safe space where you no longer need to be constantly on guard with your body physiologically ready for fight or flight.

    Thank you so much. You have no idea how much those words have just given some peace to someone you dont even know. Very wise, very true, and Im very grateful :)

  • 1

    Himajin

    $13,700,208 from the Japan Society in the US alone. How much in total has been donated within Japan as well, where is the money, as people continue to live in shelters!? How many homes could be rebuilt ?

  • 0

    culturelover

    I wish I could go there and help those who are still suffering. I know what they are going through. It kills me knowing that I can't help them. Unfortunately, I have the same problem that I had three years ago: no money. Heck, I don't even own a passport. And even worse, the people that are still missing will most likely never be accounted for...

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