Nearly a year has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake devastated Japan. The focus of the Kyodan’s efforts began with debris removal but has now shifted to local church sanctuary rebuilding. Even within that, the long-term goal is to rebuild the church. “Rebuilding the church” refers not only to constructing new buildings and repairing damaged ones but also to building a foundation to support reconstruction of the society that has been ravaged by the disaster.
As we look back on the Kyodan’s relief effort so far, my hope is that we can utilize that experience to move forward with our continued support efforts.
On March 12, the day following the earthquake, the Kyodan’s Relief Planning Committee was established under General Secretary Naito, and relief work was initiated. We were able to make immediate use of the emergency fund approved for such catastrophes on Dec. 20 and 21 at the first Executive Council meeting of the 37th General Assembly biennium.
1) From March 13 to 16, Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi and four others were dispatched to evaluate the situation in general.
2) A fundraising campaign was started by the Committee on Social Concerns.
3) Reporting of information began through Kyodan publications and on our website.
4) A total of 10,500,000 yen has been sent to the three most affected districts to begin relief activities.
5) Although the Relief Headquarters was organized late, in communication with each of the districts, decisions were made as to how we would support the region through the three hubs of Sendai, Ishinomaki, and Tono.
At the end of June, the Relief Planning Committee became part of the Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Headquarters.
The Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Headquarters was set up on March 22 by the permanent Executive Council members and officially approved by the Executive Council on April 18.
Ten people are at the headquarters: the moderator, vice-moderator, and secretary of the Kyodan, along with five members of the Executive Council and one representative each from the Japan Christian Social Work League and the mission schools. Our policy is to "support rebuilding churches that serve the people of the area in their salvation [restoration]." The entire Kyodan will work to fulfill its responsibility, with the Kyodan moderator serving as director of the headquarters, and moderators of the most devastated districts and the Kyodan general secretary attending meetings as well.
Already there have been nine meetings to decide many important issues.
1) Fundraising principles were established, and fundraising was begun. The goal for domestic contributions is 1 billion yen, and for foreign contributions, 1.2 billion yen.
2) Members of the Headquarters Committee have made trips to observe the earthquake disaster zone, and the committee has gradually changed its approach, in accordance with the various needs recognized. Particular attention has been given to children of church kindergartens and nursery schools through our project to protect the lives of children (such as clean air camps, etc.), with the realization that there are many issues.
3) Rebuilding Christian social welfare facilities.
4) Long-term scholarship support for students of devastated areas.
5) Mental healthcare for disaster victims, especially those living in temporary housing units.
6) The emergency symposium "Christianity and the Current Crisis in Japan," which was held Aug. 29-30, was a wonderful gathering. Pastors, seminarians, teachers, and social work-related workers were given an opportunity to think and discuss what this great disaster means for us.
As I looked at the relief activities within the districts affected by the disaster, I realized that there were numerous cases in which the aid given was donated directly, without passing through the Kyodan Relief Planning Headquarters.
In this, we can see the individual character of each church and district and how each contributes in a meaningful way to the support of earthquake victims. However, thinking of the long term, I believe it is important that churches recognize the importance of belonging to the Kyodan and hope they will use the Kyodan’s relief effort route more extensively when trying to assist churches in need. (Tr. WJ)
—Naito Tomeyuki, general secretary
大震災翌日の3月12日 （土）、内藤総幹事のもとに『救援対策委員会』を 設置し、救援活動を開始した。この委員会設置は、第37総会期第