Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami – 4 years on. Despite progress in recovery, Red Cross continues to address high levels of vulnerability amongst survivors .


Four years have now passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami devastated large areas of Eastern Japan and while much progress has been made in overall recovery, there are serious delays in rebuilding communities, and the Red Cross continues to support thousands of mainly elderly survivors who still live in temporary housing. The tsunami also caused meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant forcing the evacuation of large numbers of people who will not be able to return home in the foreseeable future because of radioactive contamination.

“There has been considerable progress in overall recovery from the devastation,” said Tadateru Konoe, President of the Japanese Red Cross (JRCS) and of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), “however, there have been critical delays in rebuilding communities back and particular attention must be given to the needs of many elderly and other vulnerable people who have been unable to get back on their feet. The Red Cross will continue to support them.”

Clean-up efforts have reduced the levels of radioactivity around the Fukushima nuclear power plant, but areas close to the reactor will remain uninhabitable for years to come. With support from the IFRC and national Red Cross & Red Crescent societies around the world, the JRCS continues to provide extensive support to those displaced by the Fukushima meltdown, including health services and psychosocial support. Meanwhile the IFRC is supporting the newly established JRCS Nuclear Disaster Resource Center, which operates a digital library that collects information and experiences related to the nuclear disaster. The center has also drafted an operational manual which will be referred to in developing the IFRC’s guideline for nuclear emergency preparedness.

The Japanese Red Cross has been instrumental in the rebuilding of hospitals, nursery homes, and other vital institutions, and most of these large scale projects are either finished or nearing completion. The rebuilding of permanent homes for the affected population has not progressed as quickly, mainly due to constraints in land acquisition, but several Red Cross supported housing projects for elderly people have been constructed.

Whereas the living conditions of younger generations have by now mostly returned to normal, the situation is more serious for a large number of elderly people who lack a supporting family network and have not yet been able to restore their lives. The Red Cross maintains a focus on providing services to displaced elderly people who need assistance. This includes organizing social activities for residents of both temporary and permanent housing projects.

In addition to the mostly completed large scale construction projects the Japanese Red Cross Society continues to provide medical services, psychosocial support and other assistance to affected people in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

The Japanese Red Cross has received more than 60 billion JPY from sister societies around the world. As of March, 2015, approximately 84.1 per cent of this amount (JPY 50.5 billion) had been spent on relief and recovery activities.. All remaining funds have been allocated mainly to on-going large-scale construction projects expected to be completed in 2018.