Albert Sussler’s moving account of his experience as an aid worker in Tsunami and earthquake-devastated Japan.
Last weekend I joined the group Aichi Volunteers to bring supplies to Ishinomaki, and help clean debris in one of the towns hit hardest by the March tsunami. This group was started several days after the earthquake by people in the area around Nagoya, Japan. The plan was to bus 131 selected volunteers and two trucks of supplies to the evacuation center of Minato Elementary School.
On the bus ride up, each member was asked to introduce themselves and explain why he or she had volunteered. I said I wanted to help the people of Miyagi, the place where I had started my life in Japan some twenty-plus years ago.
My other reasons I did not say.
I was distressed by the many people who panicked and left Japan, in fear of earthquake damage and radiation fallout from the leaking nuclear plants at Fukushima. The overreaction of ‘Fly-jin’, ( a combination of two words: fly as in fly away and jin, meaning people in Japanese), do not help in the fight against discrimination here. Foreigners make up less than 2% of the total population in the country, but some Japanese voices often accuse gaijin (outsiders) of various problems in Japan, way beyond any statistics or logic.
Rather than run I wanted to make a stand.