Consolation Monies for Homes Damaged by Kumamoto EarthquakesThe Nippon Foundation announces first stage of emergency support, including condolence monies for bereaved family members and support for NGOs and volunteer organizations

Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, announcing emergency support measures for the Kumamoto earthquakes

The Nippon Foundation has announced its first stage of emergency support measures in response to the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake, which will include consolation monies to be given to families whose homes were damaged or destroyed and condolence monies to family members of persons who died or are still missing, as well as support for activities being carried out by NGOs and volunteer organizations, and support for repairs to Kumamoto Castle. The measures were announced by Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, at a press conference at The Nippon Foundation headquarters on April 19. Mr. Sasakawa noted that the entire organization of The Nippon Foundation is behind this effort, and that second and third stages of support measures are already being considered.

The first stage of support measures can be broken down into five main categories:

  1. Emergency response (estimated total disbursements of 300 million yen)
    • A survey will be conducted to ascertain the needs of, and support will be provided to, persons requiring special consideration, including disabled people, elderly persons, and young children
    • 500 emergency toilets will be installed
  2. Support for activities by NGOs and volunteer organizations (estimated total disbursements of 1 billion yen)
    • Support of up to 1 million yen each for recovery and restoration activities being carried out in affected areas by NGOs and volunteer organizations
  3. Payment of consolation and condolence monies to families with homes that were damaged or family members missing or dead (estimated total disbursements of 2 billion yen)
    • Consolation money of 200,000 yen per household for homes that were damaged or destroyed, based on a certificate issued by the government
    • Condolence and consolation money to family members in the amount of 100,000 yen per person listed as missing or dead
  4. Establishment of financing structure for rebuilding of homes and businesses (estimated total disbursements of 3 billion yen)
    • Coordinating with local financial institutions, the Wagamachi (Our Town) Fund will be established to support the rebuilding of homes and businesses using an interest-free, unsecured structure
  5. Support for repairs to Kumamoto Castle (estimated total disbursements of 3 billion yen)
    • As a means of supporting the hopes and aspirations of people in the affected area, The Nippon Foundation will provide 3 billion yen to assist with repairs to Kumamoto Castle, a Kumamoto Prefecture landmark and one of Japan’s three most famous castles.
  6. Establishment of The Nippon Foundation Disaster Response Support Center, Kumamoto Office
    • An office has been established in Kumamoto City for the unified management of needed support, to ensure that relief and reconstruction activities by NGOs, volunteers, companies, and other private-sector organizations are carried out smoothly in coordination with related government agencies.
The press conference at The Nippon Foundation headquarters

The Wagamachi Fund will be similar to a project launched at the end of 2013 in cooperation with five credit unions in the three prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima to facilitate financing for small businesses and social businesses in areas damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck northeastern Japan in March 2011. The Nippon Foundation also provided support for cultural properties lost or damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake with the establishment of the Traditional Arts Relief Fund (“Festival Fund”) immediately after that disaster. The Festival Fund provided support for the purchase and production of items needed for traditional arts and festivals, as well as for the restoration of shrines where those festivals and events are held, but this project will mark the first time the Foundation provides support for repairs to a castle. It is also the largest amount the Foundation has provided to date for the support of cultural properties.

The Nippon Foundation first became involved in supporting areas damaged by disasters in response to the Great Hanshin Earthquake that struck Kobe in 1995, and this will be the Foundation’s 49th disaster relief program. Mr. Sasakawa explained that reflecting on the experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake and given Japan’s susceptibility to natural disasters, the Foundation established a Special Fund for Disaster Preparedness in 2014 so that funds would be available for immediate use in an emergency situation. For this program, 10 billion yen will be disbursed from the Special Fund for Disaster Preparedness.

The 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake has involved an ongoing series of earthquakes and aftershocks, and as of noon on April 19 the number of people confirmed dead stood at 45, with more than 1,100 people injured in the five prefectures of Kumamoto, Oita, Fukuoka, Miyazaki, and Saga, and 8 people missing in the village of Minamiaso in Kumamoto Prefecture. The amount of physical damage to homes and other structures has yet to be calculated.

A scene of the damage

The Nippon Foundation dispatched a team of experienced disaster response specialists to the area on April 15 to assess the situation and the needs of the people in affected areas. The Kumamoto Earthquakes Volunteer Fund was also established and began accepting donations on April 15.

At the press conference, Mr. Sasakawa also announced that Takeju Ogata, President of The Nippon Foundation, would meet with Kumamoto Prefecture Governor Ikuo Kabashima on April 22 to discuss the establishment of an on-site support center. In addition to The Nippon Foundation, the support center would be used by NGOs and volunteer organizations to facilitate inter-organizational cooperation and the sharing of information. The Nippon Foundation will offer to take the lead in establishing the center so that activities can be undertaken quickly and effectively.

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