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May 26, 2011

Earthquake Victims Support Project Announced

Immediately after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Tohoku and Kanto regions of Japan March 11, the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican branch of the Episcopal Church in Japan, responded. Church leaders created a disaster response headquarters, set up a relief fund and began gathering needed supplies and seeking emergency relief. Now they have moved into the second phase of response, to establish an office in Sendai, staffed with volunteers to first assist the most vulnerable, seek prayerful and monetary contributions from throughout the Anglican Communion, staffing relief offices and recruiting volunteers to help support those affected and to rebuild churches and facilities.


Current reports indicate that essential infrastructure and supplies are being restored to the disaster-stricken areas. The NSKK sent its final shipments of emergency relief supplies to the Diocese of Tohoku on April 15. With 30,000 people dead or missing, and many who have lost family, friends, homes and jobs, a large number of survivors have no choice but to stay in shelters. The seriously damaged Fukushima nuclear plant and resultant radioactive pollution has forced not a few people to leave the familiar surroundings of their homes.


Given the enormity of the destruction involved, the long period of time that will be needed to restore and rebuild the region, and the international responsibilities associated with the damaged nuclear plant, it was clear that the affected dioceses could not be asked to shoulder the support burden alone. While respecting the social context and history of the devastated regions, church leaders recognized the need for an organized response from the NSKK as a whole and therefore established the Let Us Walk Together project at a meeting on April 12. The project will deploy staff and volunteers from throughout Japan to Sendai and other affected areas.


A steering committee issued a statement calling for help in supporting the victims of the disaster not only from the various churches and related groups of the NSKK, but also in cooperation with other church denominations and overseas churches as well. “We humbly ask for your understanding and support, and especially your prayers for the success of this undertaking,” said the Primate of NSKK, the Most Rev. Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu.


The project office will be located in Sendai.