Feb 2013


Current Activities – 2013

2013 has begun Peace Boat’s Disaster Relief Volunteer Centre’s respective projects are well underway. These projects all correspond to disaster relief, meaning that the project plan is being constantly reconsidered and revised as it is being implemented. It is important for our volunteers and also the organisation itself to remember to “think flexibly, and move according to the circumstances.” This report gives an overview of the main ongoing activities for 2013, including those which are now accepting volunteers, donations and other support.

Activities in Ishinomaki and Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 2011, Peace Boat has continued to coordinate and expand volunteer support activities in the affected areas. In June 2012, the “Peace Boat Center Ishinomaki,”opened as an event space for volunteer recruitment and community-building with residents. Ongoing projects offer direct support for temporary housing residents, and aim to revive the city through events and local activities.

Community Support for Residents of Temporary Housing

Run by short-term volunteers together with those staying in Ishinomaki long-term and delivered to 90 temporary housing facilities, the “Kizuna Newsletter” has a circulation of 5,500 and has published 44 volumes. The “ochakai” tea parties continue to be held at halls and centres within the temporary housing, including introducing new ideas to involve more of the local community such as also introducing do-it-yourself carpentry workshops for men and community mahjong, as well as expanding activities to also welcome people living nearby to the temporary housing facilities.

Painting ‘Tairyo-ki’ on Containers!

Centering on short-term volunteers, this is a project to create colorfully illustrated traditional Tairyo-ki (“great catch”) flags for shipping containers now used as warehouses for fishing gear in Oshika Peninsula fishing villages.  Based on requests, we will work on designs with the artisans at the Onagawa Art Guild. These bright coloured containers are increasing along the coast, with 30 containers completed at this stage. Peace Boat is now planning to create a “Container Map” showing the art and location of the containers.

Information Sharing Project

Interviews were made of owners of each shop at the Onagawa Temporary Shopping Center, and used to make commercials for their shops. The shop’s selling points were broadcast widely via YouTube and Facebook.  The work was done with the cooperation of volunteer reporters and corporate volunteers. This project aims to also pass on these skills so that store-owners, many of whom have not touched a computer before, will have the skills to manage homepages and blogs by themselves in the future.

Musical “A Common Beat”

Preparations for the collaborative project with NPO Common Beat collaborative project began in August 2012. The first public performance was held at the Tagajo Civic Centre on January 19, with tickets sold out. A cast of 70 local citizens and 120 people with past musical experience, as well as many volunteers, practised for 100 days before this long awaited performance.

”People need People” – Providing Sustainable Support for Ishinomaki’s Fishing Industry

January was the official start of the new Tohoku volunteer program, the “People need People” Project. This program offers assistance to fishermen in the Oshika Peninsula fishing villages. Peace Boat Center Ishinomaki coordinates and matches youth from other parts of Japan who are interested in experiencing fishing while supporting the reconstruction of the affected areas with fishing families interested in offering the youth a chance to experience seaside life as fishermen. We are currently recruiting participants (Japanese speaking)!

Support for Fukushima

Fukushima Youth Project 2013 – Spring

Peace Boat will bring junior high school students from Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture to Australia for a homestay and environmental education experience during their spring break from March 23 – April 1, 2013. This will be the third international recreation and exchange programme Peace Boat has organised for children from Fukushima, following the 2011 Asian Voyage and 2012 Musical Exchange. The participating Fukushima Youth Ambassadors will participate in workshops on communication, language and sustainability, equipping them with skills and experience to share with their community upon return.

Fukushima University Youth Project

In cooperation with the Fukushima University Disaster Recovery Institute, Peace Boat is providing opportunities for students to study abroad and share the experiences of Fukushima internationally. In 2012 two students embarked on the Peace Boat’s Global Voyage and the Japan-Korea Regional Voyage. While the journey was not easy for them, seeing differences in the understanding of the Fukushima disaster around the world and their own reality, the students learned a great deal and are putting these experiences to use in their communities. Peace Boat is now in discussions considering how best to continue and expand this project.

Support for New York ‘Hurricane Sandy’

Peace Boat’s Disaster Volunteer Centre dispatched volunteers abroad for the first time in November – December, 2012 following Hurricane Sandy. Mechanisms for disaster response differ from country to country, and so Peace Boat worked in collaboration with local NPOs, expanding support activities through the cooperation of bilingual volunteers. In addition to continuing to support local organisations, Peace Boat also plans to expand its activities to further international disaster support.

Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster Relief Volunteer Training

In August 2012, Peace Boat is conducting disaster volunteer training and capacity building with the following four steps: “Disaster Volunteer Elementary Training” “Disaster Volunteer Certification” “Disaster Volunteer Leader Training” and “Advanced Course”. This effort aims to improve the capacity in Japan of disaster prevention and mitigation, by increasing the number of people trained in the knowledge and skills to know what to do when a disaster occurs, and in the various stages of emergency support.

Provide for Future Catastrophes

Peace Boat is also preparing for the potential situation of a large earthquake striking the Nankai Trench or Tokyo. Training is being carried out for NGO and NPO members in Shizuoka Prefecture. Additionally, in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, where our office is located and an area where one in ten residents is non-Japanese, Peace Boat is implementing a disaster prevention and mitigation effort in cooperation with local authorities that integrates a multicultural approach.

Civil Disaster Prevention and Disaster Affected Areas Support Network

Regular meetings are held bi-monthly with member organizations and their members to ensure that in the case of a disaster, there can be rapid cooperation beyond the boundaries of government, corporations and NGO/NPOs.  Peace Boat’s Disaster Volunteer Centre is acting as a member of the network’s secretariat, exchanging opinions and sharing information with local governments, corporationsand NGOs/ NPOs, including development of in-house BCPs (Business Continuity Plans).

Information, Lectures, and Events

As time passes since the March 11 2011 disaster, news from the disaster-affected Tohoku area is increasingly only paid attention to by those with a particular interest in the area. Furthermore, disaster prevention and mitigation are often seen as themes relevant only to researchers and experts. Peace Boat aims to continue to provide active information to the public, whether through dissemination of information via online newsletters and the media, or through lectures and events directly. We will also continue to distribute relevant information in English through this page and elsewhere.
Unfortunately, another disaster will always occur – whether in Japan or abroad. Despite limitations on human and financial resources, Peace Boat plans to continue to expand our disaster relief related activities this year, with the hope to contribute to being as useful as possible.
We thank you for your ongoing interest and support through volunteer participation, attending trainings, becoming a support member, or assisting through fund-raising.  Thank you for your continued cooperation.