Distribution of Condolence Monies in Areas Affected by the September 2018 Hokkaido Earthquake
An earthquake that struck the Iburi region in the southwestern part of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido triggered landslides across a wide area, causing extensive injuries and damage to homes. The disaster took the lives of 41 people, and The Nippon Foundation distributed condolence monies to the families of those who were killed.
Distributing condolence monies in affected areas
The 2018 Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake, with an epicenter in the eastern part of Hokkaido’s Iburi region, occurred on September 6, 2018. The earthquake had a maximum intensity of 7, the highest on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s seismic intensity scale, and caused major damage including landslides over a wide area.
According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, 41 people were killed and 691 people were injured, and 394 houses were completely destroyed, 1,016 houses incurred significant damage, and 7,555 houses were partially damaged (as of October 5).
The Nippon Foundation has visited affected areas to distribute condolence monies to the families of those who died, to provide immediate support for their daily lives. On October 5, The Nippon Foundation’s Jumpei Sasakawa visited Atsuma, where a seismic intensity of 7 was recorded and 36 people lost their lives, to deliver condolence monies to bereaved families.
Providing affected people with some stability for tomorrow
When Mr. Sasakawa delivered condolence money to a woman who lost both her husband and child and expressed his personal condolences, she expressed her gratitude as she accepted the money.
Of the earthquake’s 41 fatalities, 36 occurred in Atsuma, and persons related to 32 of those people came to the town office to receive condolence money. These people lost spouses, children, or siblings.
One person who came to receive condolence money explained the situation immediately after the earthquake: “The earthquake occurred all of a sudden while I was sleeping, and earth moved up to our house. The first floor was buried, and the second floor was separated and turned to a 90-degree angle. I climbed to a second-floor window and waited for the sun to come up.” Landslides completely swallowed up houses in Atsuma, and the entire Yoshino district in particular incurred severe damage. Recovery and reconstruction are moving forward in this area, where homes were covered by 2 – 3 meters of earth, and some homes were said to have been buried almost 10 meters deep.
An aftershock with an intensity of “5 lower” occurred while condolence monies were being distributed at the Atsuma town office, and an emergency announcement was made. With earthquakes still being impossible to forecast, the residents in this area are unable to feel at ease. Given this situation, providing bereaved families with condolence monies in cash enables them to feel at least some stability in their lives immediately after the disaster.
Reason for distributing condolence monies
Yasuyuki Kondo, a representative of the Atsuma town office, explained the meaning of condolence monies: “People whose homes were destroyed moved in with relatives or neighbors, or into public housing facilities. Temporary housing is also being built. Even if they have a place to live, however, their rooms are empty, and many people will use this condolence money to buy furniture and daily necessities.”
Many of the people in areas that were damaged lost family members, their homes, or both, and do not know what the future holds. We hope that distributing condolence monies in cash immediately after the disaster will help to alleviate the uncertainty that these people feel.
Mr. Sasakawa explained that The Nippon Foundation intends to continue providing support to Atsuma, noting, “The donations we have collected from across Japan will continue to be used to support NGOs and volunteer organizations working in affected areas.”
The Nippon Foundation is involved in other support activities in addition to the distribution of condolence monies. These include support for the removal of earth and debris using heavy machinery, the installation of hygienic toilets that can be used without running water, and support for NGOs and volunteer organizations operating in affected areas.
Mr. Kondo commented on Atsuma’s recovery going forward, noting, “We are still experiencing aftershocks and people are unable to feel at ease, but we will do what we can to recover as quickly as possible.”