6 Years after the Great East Japan EarthquakeProviding maritime-related support – emphasis going forward on “future generations”

Six years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, leaving close to 16,000 people dead and more than 3,000 still missing. Although delays in reconstruction have been seen, an increasing number of local residents, and young people in particular, have begun to work to revitalize their communities. The following is a report on The Nippon Foundation’s activities, which have focused on projects to provide maritime-related support to affected areas.

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Miyagi Kakinoya Tairyoya – a pop-up restaurant in Tokyo (photo by Tsuyoshi Wada)

Joint activities with Kirin group

An opening ceremony for “Miyagi Kakinoya (Oyster House) Tairyoya,” a restaurant temporarily operating at the Otemachi Sankei Plaza in Tokyo’s Otemachi business district was held on January 11. In addition to marine products shipped directly by JF (Japan Fisheries Cooperative) Miyagi, including oysters on the half shell, coho salmon, and hoya (sea pineapple), the restaurant sells dishes featuring agricultural products including beef tongue and seri (Japanese parsley), and has proven popular with many people who work in the area.

This is part of the Kirin group’s Kirin KIZUNA Relief-Support Project, and is the third time the event is being held. The previous events focused on marine products, and with the addition of dishes featuring agricultural products this time, it has become popular as a place where delicious items from Miyagi Prefecture can be enjoyed. The restaurant will be open until April 7.

The Kirin KIZUNA Relief-Support Project also reached an agreement in November 2016 with four organizations comprising roughly 25 producers, manufacturers, distributers, and fishery cooperatives from the city of Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture to carry out a project to create a brand identity for marine products from Iwaki.

The waters off the coast of Iwaki are known for fish including katsuo (skipjack tuna), sanma (Pacific saury), and hirame (flounder), which are highly regarded by wholesalers at Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji market. The nuclear accident triggered by the earthquake and tsunami reduced catches, however, and rumors and misinformation have and made it difficult to sell the fish that can be caught and safely consumed. The Kirin project is therefore aiming to revive Iwaki’s marine products industry by using local fish like mehikari (greeneye), sanma, and anko (anglerfish) as ingredients to create new products.

The Nippon Foundation and the Kirin group have been working together on these and other maritime projects, with the Kirin group providing support to date of roughly 1.6 billion yen.

Support for business and community revitalization

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Ceremony to mark the start of construction of Mirai Ships’ new shipyard in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture

The Nippon Foundation has also played a primary role in three other major projects: (1) subsidies for the rebuilding of shipbuilders and related businesses damaged by the earthquake and tsunami (coordinating the allocation of 11.3 billion yen of subsidies provided by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Reconstruction Agency); (2) the construction of a multifunctional fish processing facility as a base for the revitalization of the marine products industry in the town of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, via the Qatar Friendship Fund (2 billion yen); and (3) the distribution of goods and materials, community revitalization, surveys, research, and other projects (approximately 8.4 billion yen). Of these, the largest project handled by The Nippon Foundation has been support for the creation of a new shipbuilder, Mirai Ships Inc., through the merger and relocation of four small shipbuilders in Kesennuma, a city on the Sanriku coast, which is one of the world’s three largest fishing areas. Shipbuilding facilities in Kesennuma port were completely destroyed by the huge tsunami. In response, four smaller shipbuilders were merged to create Mirai Ships, and a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the company’s new facility was held in October 2016. The project’s total cost will be approximately 10.5 billion yen, and the facility is scheduled to open in the spring of 2018. In addition, approximately 570 million yen has been used to build the Kaisyo, a training vessel to be used jointly by three fisheries and maritime high schools in Iwate Prefecture (Miyako Fisheries High School, Takata High School, and Kuji Higashi High School), whose previous training vessel was destroyed by the tsunami.

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Teachers and students on the maiden voyage of the newly built training vessel ‘Kaisyo’

Other projects

The Wagamachi (Our Town) Fund (2.0 billion yen), which was established to provide interest-free financing to small and medium-sized businesses in damaged coastal areas, continues to operate as well. In addition, an ongoing project to build new communities around banya seaside community centers (approximately 880 million yen), focusing on marine products businesses, has already built 14 centers in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.

Summarizing the current status of The Nippon Foundation’s activities, the Foundation’s Kentaro Ogiue remarked, “Projects in affected areas are not just for the current generation – activities targeting the next and future generations are gaining momentum. Going forward, we want to support reconstruction with an emphasis on future generations.”

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Communications Department
The Nippon Foundation

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