Community reunion event for evacuees

Many of the evacuees are living in temporary housing or private rental housing rented by local governments. They are living scattered inside or outside of Fukushima Prefecture. That means the evacuees are living in areas which are unfamiliar to them and thus, there is little communication with their new neighbors and communities. They are concerned about their future. Furthermore, they have no opportunities to see their friends and neighbors of their town where they once lived due to the sudden evacuation. They felt lonely. From this background, the Fukushima Chapter has organized community reunion events to provide opportunities for the evacuees to reunite and regain the relationship they used to enjoy before the earthquake. The municipal governments of the evacuees cooperate in holding the reunion events.

Data


The reunion events started to be held for the evacuees of some affected municipalities in FY 2012. In fiscal years from 2013 to 2015, the events were organized for the eight affected municipalities shown in the table below.

  FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015
No. of participants 1,013 (Total No. of eight events)
(Detail: 909 evacuees; 104 staff members from the Fukushima Chapter and local municipalities)
1,096 (Total No. of eight events)
(Detail: 963 evacuees; 133 staff members from the Fukushima Chapter and local municipalities)
1,168 (Total No. of eight events)
(Detail: 1,038 evacuees; 130 staff members from the Fukushima Chapter and local municipalities)
Municipalities for the events Hirono Town, Naraha Town, Tomioka Town, Kawauchi Village, Okuma Town, Futaba Town, Namie Town, Katsurao Village
Program content ・Reunion party: Reunion of friends and neighbors. The evacuees caught up on each other’s lives and talked about the reminiscences.
・Lunch: Buffet lunch was provided for them to enjoy having favorite foods.
・Entertainment: Dancing, singing, shows or lectures were provided according to preferences of the participants.
・Commemorative pictures: Commemorative pictures in groups, with neighbors and friends were taken and they were provided to the participants.
Venue ・Hotel Hana-no-yu, Koriyama City ・Hotel Juraku, Fukushima City
・Hotel Hana-no-yu, Koriyama City
・Yahataya, Ishikawa, Fukushima Pref.
・Hotel Juraku, Fukushima City

The events held during fiscal years 2013, 2014 and 2015 were summarized in the reports below. The pictures and questionnaire results were also shown in the reports.
Report on FY 2013 Community Reunion Events for Evacuees (Summary) [PDF]
Report on FY 2014 Community Reunion Events for Evacuees (Summary) [PDF]
Report on FY 2015 Community Reunion Events for Evacuees (Summary) [PDF]

Comment by Fukushima Chapter staff


The Fukushima Chapter has organized community reunion events for the evacuees who are from the affected nine municipalities of Soso Area and live in temporary housing or private rental houses rented by local governments. The purpose is to provide opportunities for the evacuees of each municipality to gather, communicate with one another, release physical and mental stress and regain the relationship they used to enjoy before the earthquake.

Elderly evacuees have very few opportunities to go out. Therefore, they have less relationships with their friends and neighbors of their own towns where they used to live. Furthermore, they tend to have little communication in the new communities where they live now. This reunion event is held only once a year. However, this event provides the evacuees with an opportunity for a reunion with their old friends, childhood friends and neighbors who have not seen each other for a long time. The reunion is also aimed at releasing their daily physical and mental stresses. Some of the participants restarted communication with their friends triggered by the reunion event.

We plan to organize the reunion events also for FY 2016. We hope to provide events which the elderly evacuees are able to join with ease cooperated by the JRC city/town/village branches and Red Cross volunteer corps and accompanied by public health nurses dispatched by the municipal governments. The consideration for the elderly and full cooperation by the local governments of the affected municipalities have increased the number of participants each year.

We have asked the participants to fill in questionnaires in every event and we have received positive feedback with appreciative words such as: “I enjoyed the reunion event very much”; “It was nice to be reunited with my friends”; “The reunion made the day a pleasant one“; “Thank you for the physical and mental relaxation”; “I was moved”; and “I hope this event will continue.” We believe that the purpose of this reunion program was fulfilled and the program brought about positive effects.

These people are still living scattered in Fukushima Prefecture and the situation does not allow them to often communicate with each other. Although the reunion event is a one-day event, we hope to continue to organize this program which provides them with an opportunity to meet and chat face-to-face and relax physically and mentally. We also hope that this program will lead to the recovery of Fukushima.