Residents Symposium
for Fukushima Reconstruction 2015

2015/03/24


Participants at the venue

Participants at the venue

The Residents Symposium for Fukushima Reconstruction 2015 was held on March 15, 2015. The venue was packed with about 380 people from Japan and other countries. The symposium was positioned as one of the public forums of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (March 14 – 18, 2015) in Sendai. The Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) co-sponsored this symposium.

The JRCS invited Walter Cotte, Under Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Martin Krottmayer, Senior Officer, Nuclear and Radiological Accidents Preparedness Programme Services Division of the IFRC, to the symposium for a lecture about the Red Cross and Red Crescent (RCRC) Movement’s assistance activities for Fukushima revitalization and disaster prevention/reduction. At the venue, the JRCS set up a booth for Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Resource Center (NDRC) and distributed flyers and pamphlets introducing the JRCS recovery aid programs in Fukushima as a PR activity.


NDRC booth at the venue

From Sendai, 23 members mainly from RCRC Societies who participated in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction traveled to Fukushima by bus to join the symposium. Two JRCS student volunteers explained the symposium and the JRCS efforts for revitalization in Fukushima while on the bus.


NDRC booth at the venue

Symposium
Date and time: Sunday, March 15, 2015; 12:40-16:30
Venue: Hotel Tatsumiya, Fukushima City
Hosted by: Fukushima Prefecture, Fukushima University
Co-sponsored by: JRCS

Special lecture (Keynote lecture)


Title:
Facing the Consequences of Nuclear Disasters; Special Challenges to Enhance Fukushima's Communities Resilience

Speakers:
Walter Cotte, Under Secretary General, IFRC;
Martin Krottmayer, Senior Officer, Nuclear and Radiological Accidents Preparedness Programme Services Division, IFRC


Left: Walter Cotte
Right: Martin Krottmayer

Left: Walter Cotte
Right: Martin Krottmayer

Walter Cotte paid respect to Fukushima citizens for their efforts in the revitalization. He then introduced the international donations of around 100 billion yen or approximately 1 billion US dollars that was received from RCRC Societies around the world after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Then he talked about the resolution for possible future nuclear disasters adopted at the IFRC General Assembly and the RCRC Movement’s preparedness that has been conducted based on the resolution.

Following the lecture by Walter Cotte, Martin Krottmayer addressed the audience. Based on the experience after the Chernobyl accident, he emphasized the importance of revitalization which is led by communities and the necessity of preparing for nuclear disasters through international cooperation. He also referred to the necessity for disaster preparedness in a multi-hazard approach and for making disaster-resilient communities, by citing examples of the Red Cross assistance for Fukushima revitalization. He stated that the Red Cross will continue to support the revitalization in Fukushima and disseminate information about Fukushima by using the RCRC international network so that the situations of people in Fukushima will not be forgotten. He concluded the lecture by referring to “okiagari-koboshi”* which is a symbol of Fukushima citizens’ resilience to survive the disaster.

*A folkcraft tumble doll from the Aizu Area, Fukushima Prefecture.

Panel discussion: “How to promote the future of Fukushima reconstruction”



Panelists

Panelists

A panel discussion followed the keynote lecture. The panelists were Mr. Masao Uchibori, Governor of Fukushima Prefecture and local business people who have been recovering their businesses since facing the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, and university professors.

Mr. Fuminori Tamba, Associate Professor of Fukushima University, defined Fukushima Prefecture as a “challenge-advanced region” based on the results of his survey and research conducted in the affected areas over the last four years, and he spoke about the challenges and the current situation of the ongoing reconstruction.

Ms. Mari Oshio, who runs a restaurant and is a member of the Youth Entrepreneurs Group of Aizuwakamatsu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, talked about her experience of how she rode out the harmful rumors. Then she explained with examples about the Junior Economy College program that was established after the earthquake. The program is aimed at “giving children experience of making decisions on their own through business and taking action to make them reality to nurture human resources for them to be leaders in Aizuwakamatsu in the future”.

Other panelists shared their challenges to revitalize their communities with new industries and technology development while facing many difficulties in Fukushima. The venue was filled with excitement on the panel discussion.

Student volunteers



Hand-made gazettes distributed
to the RCRC members on the bus

Hand-made gazettes distributed to the RCRC members on the bus

On the bus to Fukushima from Sendai, two JRCS student volunteers shared their experience of disasters and their efforts for reconstruction in English. They also handed their hand-made gazettes about the symposium and the JRCS activities for Fukushima revitalization over to the RCRC participants.

Mr. Hatakeyama, a freshman at Fukushima University, who was affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in his hometown, Rikuzentakada, Iwate Prefecture, told about what he saw on the earthquake day and that he graduated from high school with the help of many people, and he went on to Fukushima University because he wanted to closely feel the revitalization and not forget the disaster experience. He also introduced the JRCS recovery aid programs in Fukushima. For example, construction of a community center for Kawauchi Village was assisted through the international donations from the German Red Cross. Another example of the JRCS aid programs was the provision of household electric appliances sets to temporary housing.


Ms. Yang (left) and Mr. Hatakeyama (right)

Ms. Yang (left)
and Mr. Hatakeyama (right)

Ms. Yang is a student from China and is in her first year of the graduate school program at the University of Tokyo. Her major is social anthropology and she is studying about the revitalization of communities after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. She was involved in the IFRC assistance activities for reconstruction of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake from 2009 to 2011. On the bus to Fukushima, she referred to that experience and told the participants that working as a JRCS volunteer made her feel warm, re-energized and like coming home and also that she was very glad to have the opportunity of communicating more deeply with people in Fukushima through the JRCS volunteering activities. Ms. Yang also introduced the NDRC activities and the Digital Archives.

The JRCS will continue to provide assistance in Fukushima by collaborating with the RCRC Movement and disseminate information about Fukushima both at home and abroad to help the reconstruction and revitalization in Fukushima.