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Project Updates & Fund News

The following updates touch on a few of the many activities that grantees of the Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund are carrying out with support from this fund and other sources. Please visit our Three-Year Update page for more information. You can also stay up to date by visiting us on Facebook.


Monday, October 28

Our friends at AidTAKATA recently reported that Radio FM Rikuzentakata is now reaching more than 23,000 listeners with information on the recovery efforts and their community. The station independently produces 14 regular programs (roughly 76% of its content) and has more than 1,300 followers on Twitter!
You can also follow their blog (in Japanese) at http://rikuzentakata-fm.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 15

According to a recent progress report from Sankaku Planning Iwate, their Delivery Car Project is now making about 570 home visits each month, delivering basic necessities to 3/11 survivors who lost their homes in the disaster and do not have any means of transportation to run daily errands. The project now employs 20 women (double the number from August 2011), and is offering services to 5 cities in the area.

In the off-season, oyster fishermen catch sea urchins.
Wednesday, October 1

During a recent visit to the Kamaishi Oyster Cultivation/Disaster Recovery Project, JCIE staff heard about the oyster fishermen's high expectations for a sophisticated oyster-cleaning machine that has been purchased with project funds and was scheduled to arrive in late September.

Normally, fishermen have to sell their oysters to middlemen who then clean them and sell them at a higher price to restaurants and other businesses. Purchasing this machine should allow the local fishermen to sell directly to Tokyo restaurants, garnering higher prices for their products and creating a connection between the farmers and consumers that will make the local fishing industry more sustainable.

One major challenge, though, has been that efforts to revive the Tohoku fishing industry have driven up prices for the machinery and tools needed for the industry, sometimes to triple the normal rates. This has meant that Kamaishi Platform had to scour the country for affordable machinery before finding what they needed.

Wednesday, September 24

The Kitchen Car Project initially provided jobs and services for Kamaishi disaster victims, but recently it has helped to bring people back to the region from elsewhere around Japan. Of the 12 cars, 10 are now operated by restaurant owners from outside of Kamaishi who want to return to the city because of family ties or a desire to help with the recovery process. Those involved in the project are hoping to one day hold a "World Food Truck Festival" in Kamaishi to highlight the success of the city's recovery and allow food truck operators to share tips on innovative ways to contribute to their communities.

Monday, September 23

In 2012-2013, Leading Aging Society Forum carried out a major survey of more than 4,000 Ishinomaki seniors affected by the disaster but still living in their own homes. This assessment of the current conditions produced troubling findings:

  • 36.6% reported having lower income levels than before the disaster—some are having difficulty finding employment or are unable to pay for health fees, and some have cut down to two meals a day
  • about 16% claimed to have problems sleeping, and some can no longer sleep without medication
  • 31% still require specialized support
  • 24.6% leave their homes only 1-2 times a week
  • 6% answered that they have lost the will to live

These statistics point to the need for greater efforts to engage and support this vulnerable population.

You may download the findings (Japanese only) by clicking here.

Delegation members posed with the Rikuzentakata mascot in front of city hall.
Thursday, September 12

As part of JCIE's US Congressional staff exchange program, a delegation traveled to Tohoku last month to meet with some of the NGOs working on recovery efforts. During their trip, they visited Rikuzentakata, where they spoke with local officials and heard about how AidTAKATA's radio program is helping to inform and engage the community in recovery planning efforts.

The delegation also made a site visit to Radio FM Rikuzentakata, where they heard how crucial international support has been in giving people in the region the message that they're not alone.

Wednesday, August 28

The latest addition to the Kamaishi Kitchen Car line-up is Fujinomiya Yakisoba, a specialty from Shizuoka Prefecture. The town of Fujinomiya has provided a great deal of support to the Tohoku region since 3/11, and in their latest effort at supporting economic recovery they recruited three restaurateurs from the region, provided them with training, and helped them to launch kitchen cars featuring this delicious local noodle dish. One truck began operating in mid-August, and the next truck is scheduled to hit the road in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, August 21

Since the 3/11 disaster, outdoor activities have been limited for children in Fukushima due to radiation concerns. NGO Ai Chikara has been carrying out various activities to help relieve the stress and anxiety among young people. Last summer, with support from our MetLife Alico fund, Ai Chikara held a 2-week program that brought about 70 children from Fukushima to Aichi in Western Japan, providing them with the opportunities to play in nature, experience farming and cooking, and build friendships.

Monday, August 12

BeSupport was established by clinical psychologists as a support group for Tohoku evacuees relocated to Shizuoka. Their "OHANA" program offers counseling, group meetings, and fun activities for evacuee families to lessen their stress and concerns. Events throughout the year include strawberry picking, outings to parks, Halloween and Christmas parties, and a trip to Mt. Fuji (pictured here). The events provide a chance for children and parents alike to interact and form connections to other people facing similar issues. BeSupport received a grant through our MetLife Alico Employees' Children Support Program.

Monday, August 5

In FY2012, MetLife Alico Japan employees worked with JCIE to support a variety of programs for children in Tohoku. One grantee was Sukiurakai (LoveUrayasu), which set up a manga library in Ofunato and held illustration classes for children (photo right) in the area with the help of local college students. Some of the children's illustrations were used in the packaging for a new gourmet "sanma burger" made with locally caught mackerel, which was then sold at a food festival held in Tokyo. The students were so proud that their pictures were seen by people in Tokyo, and the new product will hopefully help the revival of the local fishing industry.

Wednesday, July 30

In March 2013, the Fukushima Organic Agriculture Network (FOAN) opened the Fukushima Organ Dou Shimokitazawa, a new restaurant in Tokyo offering organic produce grown by Fukushima farmers. It is hoped that the restaurant will be able to dispel the wariness among consumers regarding Fukushima-grown products, which continues regardless of the fact that the produce has been cleared as safe to consume by national standards. This type of regional discrimination threatens the livelihoods of the Fukushima farmers and the recovery of the agricultural sector. The restaurant also provides displaced Fukushima farmers who evacuated to Tokyo after the nuclear accident a place to gather for a sense of community and to ease the stress of moving to a new home. The restaurant's grand opening was highlighted in Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the equivalent of the Wall Street Journal in Japan.

Friday, July 26

As radiation leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant continue to be in news, one JCIE grantee, the Takagi Fund is working to educate and promote collaboration among mothers' groups, neighborhood associations, and other grassroots organizations to deal with radioactive contamination. Their goal is to help communities make informed decisions that will help them lead healthy and secure lives.

As part of their efforts, the Takagi Fund reports that they convened representatives from 15 nonprofit groups to attend a Research Exchange Conference in Fukushima, where they heard lectures and saw this prototype of a new device to monitor radiation. Speakers included a well-known radiation biology expert who appears on NHK (Japan's public broadcasting company), who described how to more accurately monitor radiation levels.

Monday, July 22

Art Revival Connection TOHOKU (ARCT) is organizing plays at the Hanaichimonme senior citizen facility. One of the theater groups, Manzara, includes 20 senior citizens from Sendai. They presented a play about a group of travelers who stumble across a stone monument in the woods dedicated to the water god, Suijin. The play was a great hit with the facility residents since it was tailored to the audience: the story is familiar, the actors spoke slowly and loudly, and signs were written in large letters so those sitting at the back of the room could enjoy the performance too. The program also gives younger artists a chance to interact with seniors and staff at the facility, making them more conscious of social issues surrounding elder care.

Wednesday, July 17

In areas close to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant where radiation levels continue to be high, parents are naturally concerned about the safety of the food and water their babies are consuming. AAR Japan (an early JCIE grantee) is providing bottled water and water coolers to 9 nursery schools and daycare centers in Soma, Minami-Soma, and Date where the supplies provided by the local government have been insufficient for the babies and infants in their care. To date they have provided 16,480 liters of water.

Sunday, July 7

NGO JEN, one of JCIE's former grantees, posted photos of their recent volunteer work on the isolated island of Ajishima, Miyagi Prefecture, where roughly 70 people—22 JEN volunteers and about 50 local residents, combined their efforts to clean up the island and the debris along the shore as part of ongoing recovery efforts. You can view their Facebook photo album here.

Monday, July 1

Through Kamaishi Platform's "Kitchen Car Project," four of the first five chefs who rented out the kitchen cars have managed to get back on their feet and reopen their restaurants, while the fifth is now waiting for his city license to be approved.

The usual pattern is for chefs to start with a small kitchen car and then work their way up to the larger trucks in the fleet. For example, one of the chefs in this initial group began by renting out the smallest kitchen car, a tiny yellow hatchback, then switched to the biggest truck in the fleet once the original chef operating that truck left to reopen his restaurant. After a number of months, he too had managed to save enough to relaunch his own place, a yakitori (grilled chicken) shop.

Friday, June 28

Peace Winds Japan, an early JCIE grantee, has been working to support the revival of the Tohoku fishing industry, filling in gaps they have found in state and local government funding. Recently, they helped with improvements to an oyster plant in Minamisanriku, including the construction of a windbreaker to protect the temporary facility.

Monday, June 24

NGO JEN announced last week that it has now sent more than 10,000 volunteers to work in the Tohoku relief and recovery efforts! Among the recent projects was an effort to restore the playgrounds at two elementary schools on the Oshika Peninsula. A group of 17 Uniqlo employees participated in the work, cleaning and painting jungle gyms, swingsets, soccer goals, a swimming pool, and more so that the children can play safely! JEN was an early grantee of the JCIE Relief & Recovery Fund.

The Ricoh rugby players had fun interacting with children from Soma
Monday, June 17

One of JCIE's early grantees, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR), is working with companies to introduce employees to concepts such as corporate social responsibility, NGOs, and volunteerism. This spring, six new Ricoh recruits who are also new members of the company's rugby team took part in such an orientation and were taken by AAR staff to see their efforts in Soma and Minami-soma, two hard-hit towns in Fukushima Prefecture.

The first area they visited was previously within the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and it still remains a virtual ghost town. AAR staff have been working with many of those who were evacuated from the area and are living in temporary housing, many of whom lost their livelihoods to the disaster. They described the impact of the ongoing stress—tension between spouses, increasing divorce rates, cases of child abuse, and even suicides—little of which has been reported in the news.

The group then visited an elementary school in Soma's Nittaki district, where they joined in a gym class. Due to the fears of radiation exposure, the students have been forced to hold gym classes, recess, and sports meets indoors, but the visiting rugby players were able to help the kids have a fun time despite the limited space.

Monday, June 10

A highly skilled chef, Masanori Sato runs Tontokoton, a small restaurant that has been established in temporary quarters in the so-called Fukko Yatai-Mura ("Disaster Recovery Food Stand Village"), essentially a food court of small 10- to 15-seat restaurants run by disaster survivors in a hardhit part of Kesennuma. Before starting up his restaurant, though, he spent much of the first year after the disaster preparing and delivering bento lunch boxes to senior citizens who live alone and have been traumatized by the tsunami. While the provision of inexpensive, delicious lunches was important, the main objective was for him to engage the seniors in conversation during his daily visits to their homes, gradually gaining their trust and helping to counteract the social isolation that has become a major problem after the disaster. He did this as part of a program operated by NICCO, a Kyoto-based group that was one of the JCIE fund's early grantees.

Thursday, June 6

Last fall, volunteers from JEN, a former JCIE grantee, planted 13,000 tulip bulbs in the Kadonowakicho section of Ishinomaki as part of the effort to rebuild and beautify the hard-hit town. This spring, residents and visitors were able to enjoy the fruits of their hard work with a "hanami" (flower-viewing) picnic.

Monday, June 3

The Kitchen Car Project was designed to help restaurant owners who lost their shops in the 3/11 disaster to earn an income and eventually reopen. The project started with five food trucks in June 2011, and has since expanded to eight.

On June 2, Kamaishi Platform's "Kitchen Car Project" launched an open-air plaza on the former location of the old covered shopping street that was destroyed by the tsunami. The new plaza is designed to attract people back to the area and create a site for community events. In addition to the kitchen cars, there is a stage for performances and a beer garden will be opened over the summer.

Customers line up for burgers, crepes, and other delicious food, while a
young girl peers inside one of the kitchen cars.

Staff ready to open the new plaza and the community enjoying its food.

(left to right) Overhead view of the new plaza; ribbon cutting ceremony; sign outside the plaza.

Oyster fisherman in Kamaishi
Thursday, May 30

The oyster farmers involved in Kamaishi Platform's "Support for Artisinal Oyster Farming" project report that they will start their first harvest a year early, collecting the oysters in the autumn and selling them around Japan. It usually takes two years for oysters to mature, but those in the Kamaishi area are growing at 1.5 times the normal rate, ostensibly because there seems to be a higher content of minerals and oxygen in the water since the tsunami, the old seaweed in the area has been cleared out and is being replaced by fresh, young seaweed, and there has been greater circulation of water. In addition to providing much-needed income to make the project self-sustaining, the early harvest will allow the farmers to get back into the cycle of harvesting and reseeding portions of their oysterbeds each year. Last year JCIE staff visited with two oyster farmers, Kenichi Sasaki (in gray), who was in a boat similar to this when the tsunami struck and was able to ride over the wave, and Shinichi Sasa, who helped people evacuate from a seafood processing plant that day.

A bus travels through the streets of partially rebuilt Kesennuma
Friday, May 24

JCIE/USA’s Jim Gannon paid a visit to Tohoku last week to meet with some of the earthquake fund grantees. As he travelled through Kesennuma, he was struck by the rebuilt structures that dot the landscape of barren lots, perhaps symbolic of the fact that while progress is certainly being made, there is still a long way to go before the region is fully recovered.

Kiyoshi Murakami (president, AidTAKATA), Jim Gannon (JCIE/USA), Hiromi Abe, and Sakie Musashi at the Radio FM Rikuzentakata station

In Rikuzentakata, Gannon met with AidTAKATA, which has been operating Radio FM Rikuzentakata to bring local news, music, and informational programs to people living in this hard-hit area. The station serves as the only source of local information for many of the residents in temporary housing settlements, and it is credited with helping to strengthen community ties in the area. During his visit, the station was featuring a short program that it regularly broadcasts with a lawyer who provides advice on the myriad of legal issues that people in the disaster zone have to cope with (rebuilding regulations, insurance settlements, land titles, and so on). They also briefly interviewed Gannon during the program and took the opportunity to express their gratitude to all of the donors to the JCIE fund. During the course of the program, another small earthquake struck and the announcer was immediately on the air to provide information on the epicenter and strength and to reassure their listeners.

>> Listen to Radio FM Rikuzentakata here

Thursday, May 23

Spring means the start of baseball in Japan. Kids are out at the baseball diamond practicing and giving it their all to win. But for kids in the Tohoku region whose families are still in temporary housing and whose parents are struggling to rebuild their homes and careers, even if they win their games, they cannot afford to go to the prefectural or national tournaments. One of JCIE's early grantees, NICCO, has started a project to "support the dreams of Tohoku's children." The project has already restored playing fields at Otomo Junior High School in Rikuzentakata, bought sports equipment for a volleyball team in Otomo, and replaced a baseball pitching machine for Hirota Junior High School that had been lost in the tsunami. Now, they are focusing on raising funds for travel, hotel, and other tournament expenses for teams from Rikuzentakata and Kesennuma.

Wednesday, May 22

JCIE's Relief and Recovery Fund has made a two-year grant to AidTAKATA to support its Radio FM Rikuzentakata program thanks to the BTMU Americas Community Recovery Award, MetLife Foundation, and other funders.

JCIE is supporting AidTAKATA's radio station, Radio FM Rikuzentakata, but among the organization's other activities, they are working to promote products from and tourism to Iwate Prefecture to support the region's recovery. They recently participated in the Spring Festival at Tsukiji, Tokyo, bringing with them the Rikuzentakata mascot, Yume-chan, which has been traveling around Japan to draw support for the region.

Friday, May 10

One of JCIE's early grantees, AAR Japan, is continuing to work with people with disabilities (PWD) affected by the 3/11 disaster. A recent NHK report found that the mortality rate for PWDs in the Tohoku coastal region has jumped to twice that of the national average, so the work AAR is doing continues to be vitally important. Continue reading on the AAR Japan blog...

Friday, May 3
SEELS training course

Recent graduates and staff of the SEELS training program

As previously reported, World in Asia (WiA) has received support from JCIE's Relief and Recovery Fund for a project to promote social entrepreneurship. With this and other funding, WiA has been working to support a number of entrepreneurial groups working in the Tohoku region. From time to time, we will highlight some of those WiA projects.

One organization receiving assistance from WiA is SEELS Inc., which stands for Social Enterprise Education and Language School. Entrepreneur Cesar Santoyo is from the Philippines and was working in Japan when the earthquake struck. After the disaster, he started an emergency evacuation center in Tokyo for displaced Filipinos and others from the Miyagi area. Santoyo found that there were many Filipino migrant women among the disaster victims who were not eligible for official assistance, and so he began a training program that would create alternative employment for them as English language teachers and as English language school and preschool owners. This also addressed a second critical problem, which was the difficulty Japanese families were having in the aftermath of the disaster in accessing preschools for their young children.

Flatohoku helped these local residents produce and market "Recovery Sauce"

Another organization supported by WiA is Flatohoku, which is focusing on community tourism and job creation for women in Watari, Miyagi. Entrepreneur Kosuke Matsushima, who is originally from Miyagi, worked with the volunteer center in Watari after the disaster, coordinating with local hotels to lodge the many volunteers who were coming to the area. He realized, however, that to truly rebuild Tohoku would require a sustainable community effort rather than temporary volunteers. The question was how to engage members of the community in that development plan since many people are used to relying on the government to handle such things. His idea was to create community tourism centered on local residents in order to create a sense of ownership in community development. Flatohoku seeks to create "fans" of the Watari community, especially among young people, through volunteer coordination from urban areas, local product development, and workshops based on the unique skills of the residents. Some of the projects have included the development of a "Recovery Sauce" by local tsunami-aaffected women, local history workshops, and tree-planting workshops to create a seawall forest.

Friday, April 26

Two years after the disaster, the Japanese Red Cross reported that new psychological stresses are arising among 300,000 displaced survivors, particularly children and elderly people. In light of this situation, one of the many assets of Sankaku Planning Iwate's Delivery Care project is the staff's ability to monitor the physical and mental health of their elderly clients while hand delivering basic necessities they bring from the grocery store. In some instances, the staff members were the first to detect and respond to physical and mental health issues their customers are experieincing. As more clients openly consult the staff on their mental, social, or physical tolls, Sankaku Planning Iwate has organized a staff training session on counseling. Staff members point out that this project goes beyond providing delivery services, and it is not unusual for them to see their customers eagerly waiting for their arrival so that they have a chance to chat.

Friday, April 12

When Sankaku Planning Iwate launched the Delivery Care project in August 2011, the organization operated in three cities in Iwate prefecture with only 10 staff members available to shop for basic necessities on behalf of survivors who lost their homes in the disaster and do not have any means of transportation to run daily errands. Fueled by the region's urgent need for this service, Sankaku Planning Iwate's most recent report to the JCIE NGO Earthquake Fund notes that the organization has expanded its outreach to incorporate two additional cities in Iwate, including one of the hardest hit regions, Rikuzentakata. Simultaneously, the number of staff has doubled, and it now employs 20 women, all of whom were also affected by the disaster.

Tuesday, April 2

JCIE thanks the Japan-America Society of Kentucky, its board, and all of its members for their generous donation this month of over $75,000 to the JCIE Japan NGO Earthquake Relief & Recovery Fund! Their support will allow us to assist more organizations involved in the recovery.

To learn about how JCIE has been distributing the more than $3.7 million that we have raised to date, see http://www.jcie.org/311recovery/jcieresponse

Wednesday, March 27

Toyo Keizai recently ran an article on World in Asia (WiA) director, Mio Yamamoto, who reevaluated her life after the Great East Japan Earthquake and is currently working toward her MBA at MIT with the goal of bridging the gap between the business and nonprofit sectors. JCIE is supporting WiA's efforts to promote social entrepreneurship to respond to and rebuild after disasters. The article is titled "If You Learn Leadership from the Homeless."

Friday, March 22

One of the JCIE NGO Earthquake Relief & Recovery Fund grantees, Sanaburi Foundation, has been recording how teenagers in Japan have made positive contributions to relief and recover efforts following the 3/11 earthquake. The project, funded by Save the Children, is discussed in a recent Yomiuri Shimbun article.

Tuesday, March 5

The JCIE NGO Earthquake Relief & Recovery Fund has announced another grant for economic recovery, made possible with funding from the BTMU Americas Community Recovery Award.

Kamaishi Platform is working to reestablish the city's oyster industry through the creation of a network of supporters in Tokyo restaurants

This grant supports efforts by Kamaishi Platform, a group that is working to revive Kamaishi's oyster industry, a key part of that community's identity. The industry was devastated by the 14-foot waves of the tsunami. Kamaishi Platform's initiative is building connections between small artisanal oyster producers in Kamaishi and Tokyo-based consumers and restaurants. The customers make contributions to support the rebirth of the industry an in return receive an allocation of oysters for the next 10 years. The goal is to build brand awareness for Kamaishi oysters as a way of restoring the economy and the local pride.

Friday, February 22

Two groups working to provide long-term support for seniors in the region and for the revival of communities have received new grants from the JCIE NGO Earthquake Relief & Recovery Fund. These grants are made possible through funding from the MetLife Foundation and other funders.

Seniors participate in an ARCT event

Art Revival Connection TOHOKU (ARCT) is an arts group active in the disaster recovery in Miyagi Prefecture, that creates and hosts participatory programs each month for senior citizen facilities in the city of Higashi-Matsushima. It also supports the performances of a 20-person theater troupe that consists of senior citizens from Sendai. These performances encourage interaction and help strengthen community ties.

Leading Aging Society Forum received funding for its "Coordination Platform for Senior Citizens Health and Welfare." Through this initiative, the forum works with local government agencies, social service providers, and area nonprofits to survey the actual needs of seniors in the Ishinomaki area and ensure that none slip through the cracks as different agencies try to respond to their various needs. They have been targeting seniors who remained in their homes rather than living in temporary housing, compiling a database of people's health and needs in an effort to prevent isolation and suicides, and to revive the community. This model is also going be replicated in new locations thanks to this grant.

Wednesday, February 13

JCIE continues to offer updates on the activities of organizations we funded in the early stages of our disaster relief efforts to offer a sense of the developments in the disaster zone.

JEN is supporting a jewelry business by local women using abalone shells

JEN continues to support efforts in the Tohoku region that rebuild the community, provide emotional support, and help residents recover economically. In the spring of 2012, for example, JEN's staff began working on a program to restore the livelihoods of local women by creating and selling jewelry made from abalone shells. And in December 2012, they held a "Fun Work Festival" at a food court at an Ishinomaki market where they focused on women who wanted to use their skills in a business, who wanted to work but found it difficult due to childcare issues, and those who wanted to start a business but did not know how.

Ideas are gathered and discussed at a JEN workshop

In January, JEN held a workshop on the theme of "generating ideas to meet regional challenges." They invited people from a wide range of fields in order to get different perspectives on the issues, including the volunteers who have been providing long-term assistance in the area. The ideas gathered there will be shared at a local workshop next month and then translated into specific plans.

Children from Ishinomaki compete in the 2nd annual soccer tournament supported by JEN and others

In cooperation with Meiji High School, an Ishinomaki Nichi-Nichi Shimbun Soccer Tournament was held for local boys and girls. A total of 14 teams from around the city took part in the two-day tournament. JEN has carried out a number of these events as a way to encourage exchanges with organizations from throughout Japan and abroad, and as a way to rebuild the community.

Tuesday, January 22

As previously reported, World in Asia (WiA) has received support from JCIE's Relief and Recovery Fund for a project to promote social entrepreneurship. With this and other funding, WiA has been working to support a number of entrepreneurial groups working in the Tohoku region. From time to time, we will highlight some of those WiA projects.

Guruguru's Cheer Up Supporters Omni Bus program is operated by a team of volunteers.

One group receiving WiA assistance is Guruguru Cheer Up Supporters, which is working to regenerate local transportation and build a community hub in Ishinomaki and Kesennuma, two hard-hit areas in Miyagi Prefecture.The tsunami-damaged transportation infrastructure has led to increased costs and lower mobility. This creates daily inconveniences for residents, disrupts communities, and limits opportunities for employment and social activities. The loss of residents' previous daily routines has led many to become withdrawn. In response, this project is working with local providers to operate an on-demand bus for those residents without access to transportation. It is also working to combine access to schools, hospitals, and restaurants with social services like meal delivery and elderly care. In addition, the project is launching a community restaurant in downtown Ishinomaki to create jobs for local residents such as former restaurant owners. The projects are aimed at long-term sustainability.

Another project supported by WiA is an effort by a group called Familiar to address the dual issues facing the region of employment for those with disabilities and job creation in the agricultural sector. The young entrepreneur launching this project was previously involved in Marche Japon Sendai, a collaborative farmers market project. Immediately following the earthquake, he organized a food distribution project and provided over 20,000 meals. He is now working to provide training for the physically and mentally handicapped for jobs in a farm restaurant in the tsunami-affected area. He is also expanding the facilities as a shopping mall for additional value to create well-compensated employment both for those with disabilities and for other affected local residents.

Wednesday, January 16

The Japan Fundraising Association has just published, Giving Japan 2012, its annual report on giving and volunteerism in Japan. The publication (currently available in Japanese only) specifically examines the giving and volunteer efforts in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, noting that a total of approximately ¥600 billion (roughly US$7.5 billion) was raised for relief and recovery efforts in FY2011, of which roughly ¥119.4 billion came from abroad.

The report also highlighted the role of a number of Japanese organizations that played an intermediary role in the fundraising efforts, raising and re-granting funds to the appropriate nonprofit organizations on the ground in Japan. According to the report, the top three such organizations were the Nippon Foundation (¥817,340,000), Japan Platform (¥557,640,000), and JCIE (¥227,700,000). We at JCIE would like to once again thank the many individuals, organizations, and corporations whose generosity is helping the people of Tohoku rebuild and recover.

Tuesday, January 8
Children show their first calligraphy of the year

Through the JCIE Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund, JCIE and MetLife Alico Japan launched a one-year program last spring to help children and their families cope with the recovery process. One of the grant recipients is Niko-Niko Support. The group runs a daycare center for children in Sendai, supporting mothers who are working or in need of occasional assistance. Niko-Niko Support created a café where children and their mothers can gather and engage with one another. To celebrate the New Year, the children had a calligraphy contest—a tradition in Japan.

Asuiku (Education for Tomorrow) received also received a MetLife Alico grant to offer tutoring programs in temporary housing locations in Sendai and the surrounding areas. Those efforts have started up gain after the New Year, as Asuiku supporters continue to meet with elementary and middle school students to assist them with their work.

A Peace Jam "Oyako Salon"

Another grantee is Peace Jam, which has been organizing "Oyako Salons" (mommy and me salons) that provide peer support and community-building for mothers with small children who are trying to recover from the disaster. At one recent session, an instructor was invited to teach the mothers baby massage and yoga techniques. Particularly during the winter, the ability to communicate with other parents to discuss their challenges and concerns is of great importance for these young mothers, and helps them provide better care for their children.

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