Opinion

The Great East Japan Earthquake

The "Fumbaro East Japan Support Project"
- A Revolutionary Support Project without Governmental Mediation

Takeo Saijo
Instructor on the Faculty of Commerce, Waseda University (Business School)

I am from Sendai and my family home was destroyed. My uncle, whom I dearly loved, was missing and was finally found a month later. Now, I have decided to do everything I can to help.

The tragedy may seem to be over when in Tokyo, but there are still hundreds of thousands of people who are looking for family and friends in the disaster areas. My cousin and family members also had to search for my uncle for a month. People are in such a tragedy that my relatives and I have to keep telling ourselves that we are lucky enough that at least we were able to find my uncle. And the conditions remain harsh in disaster areas, as the rate of recovery for the water supply in Minamisanriku was a mere 1% even in the middle of May. (Kahoku Shimbun, 5/18)

Many supplies are available at locations such as prefectural warehouses and large evacuation centers, but they are not reaching places such as distal and small evacuation centers and private evacuation homes. Some might visualize safe and comfortable settings at the mention of private evacuation homes, but this is simply not the case. The tsunami has claimed the lives of many people who were unable to escape as it has reached the rooftops. Cars are stuck in between houses and the first floors have been destroyed along with electric appliances and furniture so the residents must huddle together on the second floors of their homes. As unbelievable as it may seem, lifelines in the Watanoha area of Ishinomaki City and other locations along the coastline have not been restored at all even though it has already been two months after the disaster struck and there are many people who cannot go out shopping because they do not have cars. Food rations have also been cut off and these people are living destitute lives in private evacuation homes in the midst of the rubble where there is not a single temporary lavatory (I have seen this with my own eyes the other day and heard directly from the victims).

Supplies are not reaching these unfortunate victims. The conventional system-where supplies are first sent up to the prefectural government and then down to the local governments, evacuation centers, and private evacuation homes-is not functioning in this time of crisis. Supplies are used up before they get down to the bottom, and the needs of the victims are rapidly changing on a day-to-day basis, so this great time lag causes great amounts of unnecessary items reaching the victims that need true essentials. And there are absurd scenes in many places where-spellbound by a tortured notion of fairness-none of the 300 available futons are distributed to the total 500 people in need for the reason that not all of the 500 people can have futons.

In an effort to break through this situation, I have decided to launch the "Fumbaro East Japan Support Project." It will serve as a contact center for people who distribute relief supplies to nearby people at each evacuation center, private evacuation home area, etc., when they transport the supplies to the disaster areas. We will find out what is needed and how much of it is needed by phone and post it on our website (http://fumbaro.org/). This information will be spread through my Twitter account (ID: saijotakeo). Those who see the information can directly send whatever they can, and the calls for the support will end when the supplies that are needed are distributed at their destinations. They can also be sent via Amazon because the project is run in collaboration with Amazon. This system will allow just the right amount of the supplies that are needed to be sent to the victims smoothly, and there is no need for classification.

The project instantly grew with this revolutionary system and hundreds of evacuation centers and private evacuation homes were able to receive support.

The need for home appliances and furniture is rising rapidly, and while these goods are being sent to the afflicted area, 100, 000 home appliance units are still needed. Therefore, I have launched the "Sending Unused Home Appliances to Victims Project," where we have local governments gather large amounts of unused home appliances from households and send them directly to the victims. Please call on those at neighborhood associations, condominiums, and so on for their support (We are currently creating logistics for the appliances to be transported for free. A form will be set up on the website soon).

What the victims need the most now are jobs. At least ten thousand confirmed survivors have lost their jobs. They cannot live on mere monetary donations alone. That is why I have launched the "Heavy Machinery Licenses for Victims! Project". The removal of the enormous amounts of debris and construction in the afflicted areas will inevitably become necessary. The towns that have turned to rubble must all be rebuilt from minus zero. This project is to let the victims obtain licenses for free while they still have the time while living in evacuation centers.

This will give the victims the power to be self-supporting and start new lives. They will also be able to take part in restoring their hometowns with their own hands. Heavy machinery licenses can be obtained in a matter of days at a low and efficient cost of just a few tens of thousands of yen. Simply providing them with money is not enough as it runs out very soon to cover living expenses (although they do need money). However, they would be able to earn millions of yen on their own if the same tens of thousands of yen were used to acquire heavy machinery licenses.

This project is already underway in Rikuzentakata City. The leaflets that were distributed were so effective that the fire brigade members said that they saw a sparkle in the eyes of the victims such as they had never seen before, and now there is not enough funding because there are so many applicants. So many victims can acquire their heavy machinery licenses that financial backing can be collected. If you cannot decide how to use any monetary donations that have been collected, please support the "Heavy Machinery Licenses for Victims! Project" (http://fumbaro.org/about/project/heavy-machinery/post.html).

Going forward, we will gather a large number of Geiger counters and set a unified method of measuring radiation, then create a website for collecting information that will enable individuals to assess the level of risk locally, creating a base of support. We will implement our plans one after another, including Geiger Counter Project (http://fumbaro.org/about/project/geiger-counter/) and Job Training Project. We will also realize more new revolutionary ideas that will help the victims who have lost everything take positive steps forward. The management staff of this rapidly growing project is working hard day and night, but we still need more people. We are recruiting as many people as we can in the "Fumbaro East Japan Support Project" to be a part of the management staff as this new project begins. Please register through the "Volunteer Applications" (ボランティア申し込み) form on our website (http://fumbaro.org/).

Earthquakes cannot be stopped. The tsunami also could not be stopped. However, manmade catastrophes where supplies do not reach the victims can be stopped. Giving the victims hope by providing them with the basics of life such as home appliances, furniture, and jobs is something that we can do.

We will never be able to take this excessively tragic disaster in a positive way, but we must believe that in the future, we can know that having been able to overcome such events is what made us what we are today.

Let us now take a stand.

Takeo Saijo
Instructor on the Faculty of Commerce, Waseda University (Business School)

[Profile]
Born in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture in 1974. Received a Ph.D in Human Sciences at the Graduate School of Human Sciences, Waseda University after graduating from the School of Human Sciences, Waseda University. Assumed his position as a full-time instructor of the professional degree course (MBA) of the Graduate School of Commerce, Waseda University in 2009 after his fellowship at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Areas of specialization are psychology and philosophy. Systemized structural constructivism in 2005.

[Major Publications]
Publications include Human Scientific Research on Hugging Between Mother and Child [Boshikan No Daki No Ningen Kagaku Kenkyuu], What Is Structural Constructivism? [Kouzou Kousei Shugi Toha Nani Ka?], Theories and Practices in Structural Constitutive Development Research Methods [Kouzou Kousei Teki Hattatsu Kenkyuuhou No Riron To Jissen], The Sword of Science, The Magic of Philosophy [Kagaku No Ken, Tetsugaku No Mahou], Emergence Human Science [Emergence Ningen Kagaku], Why Metatheory in Medical Care Now? [Naze Ima Iryou De Meta Riron Nanoka], The Revolution of Modern Thought [Gendai Shisou No Revolution], How a Sustainable Society Can Be Envisioned [Jizoku Kanou Na Shakai Wo Dou Kousou Suruka], What is Good Education? [Yoi Kyouiku Toha Nanika], (all published by Kitaohji Shobo), Live Lecture - What is Qualitative Research? [Live Kougi - Shitsu Teki Kenkyuu Toha Nanika] (Pacing Edition / Advanced Edition) (Shinchosha), and A Beginner's Course for Not Getting Baffled with Nursing Research [Kango Kenkyuu De Mayowanai Tameno Chou Nyuumon Kouza], and many more.

The new support project has spread mostly through Twitter and leads to activities that bring victims and supporters together.
http://fumbaro.org/
http://fumbaro.org/news/2011/05/cm.html

[Related Videos]
Interview by Yasumi Iwakami, "Supporting the Tsunami Hit Areas: Dialogue between Yasumi Iwakami and Takeo Saijo"
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/13788982
Three-way Conversation between Takeo Saijo, GACKT, and Mayo Kawasaki, "What Can We Do Now? Proposals for the New Support System to Link People's Wishes" http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/13965863
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/13965863
"Sending Support Goods to Victims" 2011.05.12 Ippou, Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (CBC)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3vdc3QUtso
PRIMENEWS, "Fumbaro East Japan Digest"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q03EVtJxXk