カテゴリー:English Articles

【Day 3 Report】Local Media’s Potential in Connecting Citizens



 At the Sendai City Support Center for Civil Activities in Aoba ward, a talk event titled “Local Media Open Editorial Meeting” was held on the 16th. Parties of five local media in Sendai city gathered to confirm the local media’s roles in generating a feeling of unity within the community and playing a part in community building.

media 1

The six panelists were Ms. Yuko Okazaki of “Mirain” – disaster reconstruction region paper from Sendai;
Mr. Ken Sato of “Nishippara Shimbun” – a newspaper by Nishihara-area residents;
Mr. Eiichi Hariu and Mr. Fujio Chiba of “038PRESS(Omiya Press)” – information sharing free newspaper of Miyamachi;
Ms. Kiyomi Kishida of “Yutori-to” – information sharing media of Nagamachi;
Ms. Yuko Hayashi of “Tago no Kizuna Tsushin (Tago Bond Communication)” – issued by Tago Citizens’ Center.
Mr. Kazufumi Sato, the Sendai Representative of General Incorporated Association, Media Project was the moderator of the event.


【respective local information publication】

Local media plays a role in planning and introducing various events and generating connections among citizens, along with the local information publications.

“The residents interacting with each other and building a relationship that offers mutual support leads to DRR”, said Mr. Sato, emphasizing the significance of the presence of local media.

In the Tago area of Miyagino ward where Tago Kizuna Tsushin covers stories and published, disaster restoration public houses for the affected have been built and will welcome 700 new households moving in. Kizuna Tsushin edits its pages with the perspective of creating connection between existing and new-residents.

The objective is sublime but the immediate issue is the lack of writers.
Ms. Hayashi says “if the writers are local residents just as the readers are, that will make it much easier for residents’ interaction to be generated. Currently, we have the Citizens’ Center staff are writing the articles but eventually, we hope the local people will be involved too as writers”, expressing expectations.


【Ms.Yuko Hayshi of Tago Citizens’ Center】

 038PRESS publicly sought writers. As a result, twenty-five citizens raised their hands, which far exceeded expectations.

 “There are in fact quite a number of people who are hoping to proactively communicate information,” says Mr. Hariu, eager to find unrecognized citizen writers to enhance articles and further develop citizens’ interactions.


 Since November 2011, by a program entrustment form Sendai city, “Mirain” has issued publication in an aim to establish and revitalize the community of the affected.

 In areas where great damage was done by the tsunami, most residents left their hometown. “Mirain,” as it carefully depicted the lives of the separated residents, has played a role of providing a “platform for reunion”.

 “Mirain” itself has closed its role as it published its final edition in March, 2015. There are now new seeds of actions to reestablish people’s connections such as Sendai city Wakabayashi ward Arahama area’s plan to build an actual site titled “library by the sea” where residents can gather together.

 “’Mirain’ will end its role but I’m happy to have made a point where the affected could maintain their network,” Ms. Okazaki emphasized the accomplishment of its three and a half years publication.
 “The involvement of the younger generation” was the common theme of the panelists’ discussion. There were numerous voices hoping for “a proactive participation of youngsters who are the future players of community building”.
 To develop the future of the region, the local media is a bridge builder between residents. As student reporters on assignment, this was a symposium where we truly experienced the attractiveness of being part of the local media.


Mirei Okuma, junior at Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University
Erika Suzuki, junior at Nihon University
Saki Miura, sophomore at Yamagata University
Shihori Saito, sophomore at Tohoku Gakuin University



【Day 3 Report】Network to support Fukusima-based NPOs – Overcome by connecting



 “School Network for Children’s Experience in Nature”, a collaboration group of eight Fukushima-based NPOs, which supports children affected by the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, held a workshop to confirm the progress and issues of its activities so far at Sendai City Support Center for Civil Activities in Aoba ward, Sendai city.  Fifteen men and women, consisting of students and working people, participated in the workshop.  In-depth discussions were held on the necessity to continue support for children.


 In the workshop, Mr. Toru Egawa, who runs the secretariat of the group, reported the current status of Fukusima, saying, “In some areas of Fukushima prefecture, children still cannot play to their hearts’ content, because of the contaminated soil and the small space of temporary houses where they live.  He continued, “Some children have become obese or stopped going to school because of stress.” “The role of the Network is to coordinate the activities of NPOs that are working to improve the situation.”

  The Nework was established in March 2013.  It connects eight NPOs based in Fukushima.  Mr. Egawa says that remarkable change was observed among the children who participated in the programs offered by the Network, such as setting up a playground in the areas where the radiation level is low.  “Many children played in nature naturally as kids and recovered peace of mind and calmness”, said Egawa.  “There were cases that children stopped venting anger upon family members”.
 The number of NPOs that support children in Fukushima surged immediately after the earthquake, but now they are struggling in operation due to lack of finance, etc. 
It is important to collaborate to sustain the organizations for a long time. To that end, the School Network will continue connecting the eight NPOs.



【Participants listening to the speech intently】


【Mr.Egawa of the secretariat(left) and Mr.Shinji, who talks about the status of Fukusima(right)】

 To participate in a program of “School Network for Children’s Experience in Nature”, you can apply via its website (URL http://www.kodomo-gakkounet.com)or fax (0241-66-3371) using the application form provided on the website.


Kaede Sakuma, sophomore at Tohoku University of Art and Design
Ai Tanabe, senior at Waseda University


Comments by student reporters

 I learned the importance of connection among children and NPOs that support them in Fukushima. We will continue looking at the reality of children in Fukushima and try to address their issues. (Sakuma).

 It has been four years since the Great East Japan Disaster. I felt the need of capturing changing needs and extending sustainable support that is locally rooted.
I believe that it is necessary to value diverse connections anywhere in Japan.



【Day 3 Report】Road to a Strong Condo



 On the 15th, a seminar to discuss precaution and post-disaster measures of condos where numerous families live under the same roof, was held at the Sendai City Support Center for Civil Activities.
 The seminar was held by a General Incorporated Association “Miyagi Prefecture Certified Condos Mangers” which is comprised of ninety nationally “certified condos managers” with expertise on complex housing management and residents’ rights. Approximately sixty people attended.
 First, the Association member explained the damage situation of the Great East Japan Disaster, touching upon the actual damages and reconstruction status of condos in Miyagi, and introduced measures preparing for another disaster.
 According to reports, among the 1,343 condo buildings in Sendai city, 672 of them were damaged due to collapse of towers and roof disrepair, of which more than 100 were assessed as total collapse.


【showing pictures of how the wall near the entrance cracked】


 When pictures of distorted doors and buildings entirely tilted were displayed on the screen, the audience listening to the explanations voiced their surprise.
T he trustee of the association, Mr. Toyoaki Asano emphasized that “great amount of funding is essential for condos’ reconstruction”.Although elevators are indispensable equipment in our daily lives, since most damages of them are not covered by earthquake insurance, he strengthened that “it is important to be prepared for the double usage with repair reserves”.


 Mr. Asano also emphasized the importance of residents’ mutual support.
In condos where a wide range of generations jointly live in the same building, in-advance rule-making in order for residents to work hand in hand is crucial.
 The residents’ voluntary set up of DRR organizations and DRR manuals specifying what actions must be taken upon disasters, are extremely helpful in times of needs.
 The venue was nearly filled with participants, gaining more attendance than expected.

 Mr. Yoshihiro Hamada, a trustee of the Association was delighted with the high attendance, saying “I’m happy to see the growing interest toward condos’ DRR”. Having said that, he suggests, “not much progress has been made in the development of DRR manuals. I hope specific manuals that fit each condos will be developed”. He did not fail to point out that actual actions are indeed the key.



【Mr.Hamada, explaining measures by voluntary DRR organizations】



 One advantage of condos is that the entire residents can help each other out. Though each individual’s capability may not be great, when consolidated, it becomes a big force. We hope to begin by connecting with nearby neighbors.


Miyabi, Umemura, junior at Doshisha University
Erika Suzuki, junior at Nihon University