Messages from Citizens of Ishinomaki, 7 Years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
It has been 7 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
Ishinomaki, a city in Miyagi Prefecture, one of the affected areas, has changed a lot in the time since the disaster. Rather than happening suddenly, the changes have gradually accumulated during the 2555 days of these 7 years, making the city become as it is today.
Here, we interviewe three citizens of Ishinomaki, who have both witnessed and devoted themselves to these changes. We greatly appreciate their cooperation. Meanwhile, we hope this interview can help readers understand more about Ishinomaki, and think about what individuals can do for the city today.
Ms Abe Kiyoko
Owner, Restaurant Yahataya, Ishinomaki City
Time flies. It has been 7 years.
During the first year after the disaster, I always told myself that I have to do something about it. After one year of hard work, my restaurant reopened in July 2012.
After that, I thought that I should do something to make Ishinomaki a better city, and so I joined in various activities.
Though it is said that the concern of people across the country for this disaster is decreasing year by year, I feel like people in Ishinomaki are just starting to let it go. Therefore, in terms of disaster prevention practice and other activities, we should invite more people to participate, telling them that it is important to have a try.
I have a few words to the volunteers who came here and helped us in 2011.
Please don’t feel guilty because of not visiting since your volunteer activities.
Feel free to come here. We are looking forward to meeting you again.
We always appreciate what you did for us.
Maybe we won’t be able to recognize you, as you were all wearing masks while doing volunteer activities. But when you come, please just tell us that you were volunteers.
We are waiting for you in Ishinomaki.
Mr Bandai Yoshinobu
Living in Ishinomaki City, sharing testimony of the disaster
I have special feelings towards the month of March.
It reminds me of that day, when everything happened in a second, and I even didn’t have achance to say sorry for surviving to those who passed away.
I don’t want to feel relief by telling myself that sacrifices always come with disaster.
If a tsunami occurs, just run away. I want to keep telling everyone of the preciousness of life after this experience.
Actually, before the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, I was rarely concerned when a disaster occurred somewhere. However, after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, I changed. We got so much help from a great number of volunteers, making me think about joining volunteer activities just as they did. Utilizing my ability of driving heavy machinery and oversized vehicles, I have participated in various volunteer activities afterwards.
I want to return the favors. That’s one of the reasons that I participated in such volunteer activities. But more importantly, I want to tell them from the perspective of a victim, that we can help you, and bring you back on your feet.
It is people who support people.
That’s the most important thing for Japan, a country suffering from many disasters. That’s what the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami taught me.
Mr Naganuma Yuuto
First-year student of Tohoku Welfare University, born in Okawa district (Nagatsura).
I graduated from Okawa Elementary School, which has become a remains of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
I have been living in temporary housing since the disaster occurred. My home will be completed this summer. Finally, the life of living in temporary housing for nearly seven years is going to end.
Last year, I re-enrolled in an undergraduate course to learn about disaster prevention and welfare. Because of my undergraduate course and activities in JCC – DRR Youth, and the TOMODACHI Initiative, I got to know PBV and make friends in my generation who are devoting themselves to disaster prevention and risk reduction.
Moreover, I have shared with people who visit here about the disaster that I experienced when I was in high school, from the perspective of a young victim.
Last November, the exhibition ‘Model Restoration Project of Okawa, City in Memory‘ which I carefully made, has finally come to shape.
From now on, I hope to continue to tell people in the same generation as me, and the next generation, that disasters are not just something that happens to other people.