Countless instruments and many school buildings were swept away or badly damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Teachers were lost or moved away, and schools were forced to suspend musical activities. Schools and families are unable to replace lost instruments.
The LIBERTY MUSIC PROGRAM, in cooperation with Mission to the World, Grace Mission Tohoku, Tsukuda Loves Tohoku, brave action, and Japan Presbyterian Mission, endeavors to provide comfort and healing to children through music during this time of recovery. Though insignificant compared to the needs of people who lost friends, family members, and material possessions, we hope to provide musical experiences through lessons, rehearsals, and events that will last a lifetime.
Just three days before the first anniversary of the tsunami, a headline from the British paper The Guardian read, “A year after the tsunami, Tohoku’s young people need help to conquer their fear and guilt.” The accompanying photo showed a solemn young boy holding up a photo of what appeared to be his grandparents. Educational and fun activities and programs specifically for children are needed. Children feel like they should keep their goals smaller and focus on helping their communities, but they also need to be able to dare to dream amidst the destruction. Helping young people maximize their potential is more important now than ever.
The Children’s Program builds on relationships already established through relief and recovery efforts in Miyagi Prefecture and surrounding areas. It formally begins April 2013, culminating in a 3-day festival in June 2013. Funding is still needed for this project. If you can help, please contact us!
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook a region 43 miles off the northeast coast of Japan, generating one of the worst tsunamis Japan has ever seen. It rose to heights of 133 ft and traveled as far inland as 6 miles. Honshu, the main island of Japan, moved 8 ft east, and even the earth shifted on its axis by 10 inches.
Almost 20,000 people died. 400,000 buildings were destroyed, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and millions without power, phone, or water service. Entire towns washed into the ocean, and a dam collapsed. An oil refinery in Chiba exploded, sending up 100-ft flames for days that filled the sky with smoke. World Bank estimated the overall destruction at $235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in human history. The day of the quake, 3/11, will always stick in the minds of the Japanese people just as powerfully as 9/11 does for every American.
At Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, the earthquake caused a chain of events leading to fires and explosions in four nuclear reactors on television live before the eyes of the world. Power was lost during the earthquake, kicking in emergency diesel generators to run electrical equipment and cooling pumps. Fifty minutes later, a 49 ft high tsunami topped the sea wall and flooded the turbine building, disabling the generators and damaging the backup batteries. Poor road conditions and the flooded turbine room prevented power from being restored for over a week.
Without power, there was no way to cool the overheating reactors. Fuel rods became exposed, overheated, and filled the buildings with hydrogen gas. On March 12, there was an explosion at Reactor 1. On March 14, there was an explosion at Reactor 3 containing plutonium, particularly dangerous due to carcinogenic agents. On March 15, there were explosions at Reactor 2 and Reactor 4. The cores of Reactors 1, 2, 3, and 4 melted, fell to the floor, and burned right through their containment vessels. Highly radioactive material was released into the environment.
One month later, the danger level of the nuclear crisis was raised to level 7, signifying a major accident with widespread effects to the environment. This is the highest rating on the scale and the same given in the Chernobyl disaster. Vegetables, meat and dairy products, tap water, the ocean, and the atmosphere were all affected.
From Day 3 after the Great Kanto Earthquake, Community Arts Tokyo has been involved in disaster relief and recovery efforts through the arts. Even during times of extreme physical needs in food, water, and clothing, music and the arts brought comfort and healing in the midst of terrible physical and emotional pain. In the months following the earthquake, art events kept relationships ongoing with shelters when supplies were no longer needed.
More than a year after the earthquake, art events continue to play a role in the recovery of the disaster areas. To date, we have performed over 50 events in the disaster areas of Fukushima Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture, and Iwate Prefecture. Living and working with people in the disaster area, we continue to ask questions to find what is most helpful and what is most needed. The recovery process will take many more years, and Community Arts Tokyo will continue to play a role in the rebuilding process.