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Japan Society Allocates 12 New Earthquake Recovery Grants Totaling $1.7 Million

東日本大震災 災害支援のための「The Japan Earthquake Relief Fund」 第七回支援金付与先 決定のお知らせ

New York, NY - November 22, 2013 – Approaching the third anniversary of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Japan Society announced today 12 new grants from the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund (JERF) totaling $1,748,512. Of the funds that have been donated so far, the Society has earmarked $12.9 million to 38 organizations in support of 54 projects on the front lines of relief, recovery and reconstruction in Tohoku.

Seven of the new grants are going to organizations that have previously received JERF funds and five are going organizations new to JERF. Projects include revitalizing agriculture and fishing industries, as well as support for children, education, community revitalization and social enterprises.

"We are heartened by the passion and commitment of community leaders working in Tohoku to improve the lives of children and families, farmers and fishermen, and to revitalize local communities and economies," said Motoatsu Sakurai, Japan Society President. "However, because many people remain in temporary housing and reconstruction is just beginning in many communities more than two and a half years after the earthquake and tsunami, Japan Society is fortunate to be able to continue to support organizations in Tohoku doing long-term critical work in their communities. The Japan Earthquake Relief Fund is able to have this kind of impact and provide much needed support due to the generosity of those who contributed to the fund."

The latest JERF grant recipients are:

BEYOND Tomorrow enables the youth of Tohoku to follow their dreams and aspirations while becoming the leaders of tomorrow through scholarships and mentoring programs. A second grant from the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund supports youth orphaned or severely affected by the disasters of March 11 through comprehensive leadership development and mentoring programs.

Fukushima Agriculture Revitalizing Network (FAR-Net) started the Minero Dairy Farm, a nonprofit corporation governed by its members, to help revitalize dairy farming in Fukushima. The Japan Earthquake Relief Fund supports the farm’s Mo-Mo School, which fosters the understanding of dairy farming through educational programs, as well as an internship program.

Fukushima Organic Agriculture Network is a network of organic farmers, agricultural scientists, consumers and wholesalers in Fukushima Prefecture that promotes organic farming. A second grant from the Japan Earthquake Relief supports its work with local farmers through new sales outlets, the decontamination of local farmland, programs that improve farming in Fukushima, and the development of a new program to educate visitors about the situation in Fukushima.

General Reconstruction Association, Inc. (GRA) is working to revitalize strawberry farming in Miyagi Prefecture by hiring local strawberry farmers and using new technology that will enable them to grow strawberries year round. Support from the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund will enable the company to purchase necessary equipment for state-of-the-art greenhouses.

Japan Community Cinema Center, which brings quality, community-based film programs to regional areas throughout Japan, will use its second grant to continue providing cultural and emotional support and unity in Tohoku through small and large-scale screenings of classic and contemporary films. Films and workshops will take place at temporary housing locations and in community spaces.

O.G.A. for Aid supports economic, social and community rebuilding and healing in Minamisanriku and Kitakami. The Japan Earthquake Relief Fund will support OGA for Aid’s Green Farmers Miyagi project, including land reclamation to start new farms, sourcing new markets for local farmers, and developing secondary processing of food products to sell as Minamisanriku omiyage (gifts).

Rias no Mori works in Ishinomaki on restoration and community-building efforts in a way that takes into consideration the area’s educational, environmental, economic and welfare needs. A second grant from the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund will continue support for the Satoyama Activity Center’s educational and recreational programs for children and adults.

Supporting Union for Practical-Use of Educational Resources, in partnership with Abukuma NS Net, both of which run summer camps for children all over Japan, started the Fukushima Kids Summer Camp in the summer of 2011 for first through ninth graders from Fukushima Prefecture who were not able to enjoy the outdoors due to radiation concerns. In the summer of 2014, with support from the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, the Supporting Union will organize its fourth Fukushima Kids Summer Camp in Hokkaido.

Sweet Treat 311 provides educational support to children affected by the 3/11 disasters through the Ogatsu Academy, which provides academic support, farming, fishing and nature programs, and IT training programs for children of Ogatsu. Sweet Treat 311 recently purchased an abandoned school, and a matching grant from the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund will support the renovation of the school into a place that connects the children and citizens of Ogatsu to nature and others from around Japan and the world.

Tsumugi, Inc., a social business, started the Kumiki Project, which produces interlocking wood blocks that can be made into furniture and buildings. With a grant from the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, it will use the wood blocks to construct a building in Ishinomaki that will serve as a community space, a market for local businesses who haven’t been able to rebuild, and space that will serve as an archive for the disaster.

Tumugiya provides economic, social and community support in Tohoku. With a second grant from the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, Tumugiya will work with the local fishing community on the Oshika Peninsula to revitalize the cultivation and sale of wakame (seaweed) and wakame products.

World in Asia (WiA) works with social enterprises in Tohoku to strengthen their capacity and impact in the region. The grant from the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund will provide administrative support to the organization as well as support for four of the social enterprises they work with.

In October 2013 members of Japan Society's Japan Earthquake Relief Fund team traveled to Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures and met with 14 grant recipients to monitor and observe projects first hand and to better understand the work and challenges grantees face going forward. The JS team found the staff and volunteers they met passionate and committed to their work and knowledgeable about the situation on the ground. All grantees expressed concern about fundraising in the future. Concernes about increases in suicide, alcoholism, domestic violence and divorce, and whether the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will drain financial and human resources and supplies needed for reconstruction in Tohoku were also voiced. Although many individuals and families have moved from Tohoku resulting in increased concern about depopulation and the elderly, the team noted that some young people are returning or moving to the region to help with the recovery process. “As we approach the three year anniversary of 3/11, we will keep these concerns in mind as we move forward with future grants and related programming," said Mr. Sakurai.

Launched March 12, 2011, the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund has received $13,673,565.01 (as of November 21, 2013) from over 23,500 individuals, companies and foundations. Contributions have been received from all 50 states, and nearly 60 countries around the world. One hundred percent of the fund goes directly to support people affected by the disasters. Those wishing to donate to the fund can go to www.japansociety.org or mail a check to Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, New York 10017; Attn: Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Checks should be made payable to “Japan Society” and indicate “Japan Earthquake Relief Fund” on the memo line of the check. For additional information, email japanrelief@japansociety.org.

For a complete summary of organizations and projects supported by JERF to date, visit http://www.japansociety.org/earthquake. In June 2012, the Society premiered a short video highlighting work of three of the JERF grant recipients, including JEN, which supported four fishing villages on the Oshika Peninsula in Ishinomaki; the Japanese Medical Society of America in collaboration Kokoro-no-Kakehashi Iwate delivering of mental health services to Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture; and the Supporting Union for Practical-use of Educational Resources and its partners to organize and implement the Fukushima Kids Camp.

In a 2012 Reuters profile of the Society’s relief work, Mr. Sakurai stated that focus of the relief fund should be on local entrepreneurship and lasting sustainable projects. “It is very, very evident in Japan this recovery process will continue for more than 10 years," he said.

Japan Society is an American nonprofit committed to deepening mutual understanding between the United States and Japan in a global context. Now in its second century, the Society serves audiences across the United States and abroad through innovative programs in arts and culture, public policy, business, language, and education. For more information, visit www.japansociety.org or call 212-832-1155.

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Media Contacts:
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Kuniko Shiobara, 212-715-1249, kshiobara@japansociety.org

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