Japan: People are our priority

The latest statement by Archbishop Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Communion in Japan) via Anglican Communion News Service:

Ten days have past since the major magnitude 9 earthquake which happened in regions from Tohoku to Kanto on the 11th March. The major tsunami, which hit Japan immediately after the earthquake, reached a huge area from Hokkaido to Kanto. The tsunami, which was over 10 metres, brought complete destruction to many towns and villages along the coastline.

We Japanese are accustomed to earthquakes and tsunamis, however no one could have imagined that such a major earthquake or tsunami could have happened. As of today, more than 8,400 people are confirmed dead and still 12,000 people are missing. There are more than 300,000 people who are enduring hardship at various evacuation centres.

…staff of the ‘Tohoku Earthquake Relief & Rehabilitation Task Force HQ’ at the Provincial office and of the relief centre in Tohoku Diocese consider the people affected by the disaster to be the church’s priority. In most of the areas affected by the disaster there are no Anglican churches, however it is the NSKK’s desire to stand with all people there and to do whatever we can to support them.

The relief and rescue phase will soon end, but the the restoration phase will go on for a long time. As the NSKK, particularly as Tohoku Diocese, we believe that it is during this second phase when God will most use us to do his work.

Nippon Sei Ko Kai is a small Church. Tohoku Diocese is a small diocese within that small Church. So we know that what we can do is limited. We recognise it will be necessary to work with others outside of the Anglican Church and outside of religious organisations. We will need to partner with ecumenical partners, the government, private organisations, and non-profit organisations and non-governmental organisations in order to do this relief and restoration work.

For those churches and organisations overseas who have offered to send us medical teams, medical supplies and pharmaceutical goods, please contact the Red Cross, the Japanese Embassy or Consulate in your country.

Other links:

Disaster Theology:

For nearly a thousand years leading up the modern era, a majority of Japanese Buddhists believed they were living in the Age of Mappo, a period marked by military strife, frequent earthquakes, epidemics, fires, and floods, and a general deflation on the value of human life. Given that Japan has always been particularly vulnerable to volcanic eruptions and other seismic events, not to mention pestilence and war, it must have seemed to such true believers that the Buddhist teachings on Mappo were more often right than wrong.

Today few of these attitudes prevail. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s attempt last week to evoke the specter of tenbatsu, or “divine punishment,” against the people of Japan got him smacked down so smartly that it’s now questionable whether he can win reelection. And Mappo can hardly offer a persuasive reading of history in a country where traditional forms of Buddhism are now in steep decline. But in that case, how are we to understand such terrifying events as the triple misfortune of an earthquake, followed by a tsunami, followed by a nuclear disaster of previously unimagined proportions?

Stories from Harvard alums and faculty here.

AFTER THE catastrophic March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan, the Harvard Alumni Association assembled a Web page where alumni living in Japan could check in, send word that they were all right, and share their accounts of the disaster and its aftermath. Several survivors shared firsthand accounts; on March 19 (the most recent entry as of this writing), Yukari Fujita, M.T.S. ’96, posted an evocative account of the effects in the Japanese capital of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s request that people throughout the country conserve energy because several nuclear reactors had been crippled.

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