Japan: Red Cross calls for greater nuclear preparedness one year on from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami

Published: 7 March 2012

One year after Japan’s largest recorded earthquake and tsunami which damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor, the Japanese Red Cross is calling for greater vigilance in preparing for potential nuclear accidents around the world.

“After twenty six we are still dealing with the humanitarian fall-out from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster”, explains Tadateru Konoe, President of both the IFRC and Japanese Red Cross. “The legacy of the Fukushima disaster will be felt by generations to come”.

Thousands of people evacuated from Fukushima cannot go home and remain in a state of uncertainty and anxiety about the long term health affects of the nuclear accident.

“Mothers won’t let their children outside to play. They are living in an information vacuum and need some reassurances about the future”, says President Konoe. “The legacy of such disasters has taught us that we must do more to help people prepare for such eventualities”.

Together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Japanese Red Cross will be hosting an international conference in Tokyo in May, at which Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies from across the world will come together to share experience and draw up a road map for developing future guidelines to help prepare for nuclear and other man-made disasters.

The slow pace of reconstruction along Japan’s devastated north-eastern coastline is contributing to survivors’ stress, as there is little clarity on how long they will have to remain in cramped temporary housing. The tsunami virtually destroyed some coastal communities and despite the progress made in clearing debris and restoring basic services, unemployment is a serious concern with more than 120,000 people remaining jobless.

 “One of our main concerns has been the welfare of people in temporary accommodation, particularly the elderly,” says President Konoe. “Many people’s state of mind continues to be troubled and we are doing what we can to support them.”

To help restore a sense of normality, the Red Cross has provided 125,000 families in temporary housing with a package of six household electrical appliances. The Red Cross has also been running activities designed to help ease the mainly elderly population’s emotional isolation while also providing amenities for children such as school buses and playgrounds.  

With the support of donations from people across the world amounting to 53 billion yen (637 million CHF, 528 million EUR, 693 Million USD) and a generous donation of 40 billion yen (465 million CHF, 385 million EUR, 505 million USD) for reconstruction in the worst-hit areas, from the government of Kuwait, in addition to funds raised within Japan; the Japanese Red Cross is committed to providing long term support to tsunami affected communities. Their role has shifted from supporting the emergency medical needs of those hit by the disaster to addressing longer-term issues. This includes supporting the reconstruction of temporary and permanent health facilities in the affected areas. Ends

Broadcast quality video B-Roll information on the Red Cross Red Crescent response to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami is available at http://www.ifrc.org/en/news-and-media/newsroom/ . Photographs and additional information is available at http://www.ifrc.org/what-we-do/disaster-management/responding/ongoing-operations/japan-earthquake/

For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

In Japan:

• Patrick Fuller, communications manager, Asia Pacific, IFRC
Japan Mobile: +81 90-6534-7128
Mobile : +60 122 308 451 E-mail : patrick.fuller@ifrc.org

• Francis Markus, IFRC communications delegate for East Asia
Japan Mobile: +81 90-6534-7098
Mobile: +86 139 10096892 E-mail: francis.markus@ifrc.org

• Saya Matsumoto, officer - Japanese Red Cross PR office
Mobile: + 81 90 78202173  E-mail: s-matsumoto@jrc.or.jp

• Asuka Suzuki, officer - Japanese Red Cross PR office
Mobile: +81 90 78202173  E-Mail: as-suzuki@jrc.or.jp

In Geneva:

• Jessica Sallabank, senior media officer
Mobile : Mob.  +41 799481148  E-mail: jessica.sallabank@ifrc.org

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil¬lion people each year through its 186 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.