Tea Time at Japan Society



Remembering 3.11 with Megumi Ishimoto

March 2021
Part of Tea Time at Japan Society & Ten Years Later: Japan Society Remembers 3.11

"I could no longer go back to the normal life I used to have in Tokyo"—3.11 changed Megumi Ishimoto’s life. That fateful day, Megumi Ishimoto was working at a financial company in Tokyo. After watching news reports of the devastation in Tohoku, she left Tokyo in April 2011 to go to a volunteer center in Ishinomaki, a town in Miyagi Prefecture, where she worked removing dirt and rubble from damaged houses. Seeing with her own eyes what she had seen on TV was shocking. But she also witnessed a unique challenge facing women and mothers in Tohoku. Evacuation sites were run by men, and women's needs were not being met; women were not in decision-making positions in rural Ishinomaki. To give these women voices, Megumi founded NPO Women's Eye. Over 10,000 people have participated in Women’s Eye’s programs, which now works with the local community and government for women’s empowerment more broadly. Megumi is now embarking on projects to collect and share data from the past 10 years and from single mothers impacted by COVID-19. Having joined leadership programs in the United States to overcome her own gender bias, Megumi notes: "We hope to prove our case that culture is changeable and that there is no need for Japanese women—especially women in rural areas—to be limited by gender bias. Everyone, regardless of gender, can contribute toward building a fair society where no one is limited."

Megumi Ishimoto
Executive Director and Co-Founder, NPO Women’s Eye


Megumi Ishimoto is Executive Director and co-Founder of NPO Women’s Eye. After the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, Ishimoto left her job in international finance to move to Miyagi Prefecture as a volunteer, working in support activities for women along the Sanriku Coast. In June 2011 she set up the RQ Women’s Support Center, which became NPO Women’s Eye in June 2013. Ishimoto is an alumna of TOMODACHI and the Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI), a W20 Japan 2019 Committee member, and one of five W20 Japan delegates to W20 2020 Saudi Arabia. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Waseda University, a master’s degree from Tokyo University, and is a Ph.D. student at Tokyo University researching women’s empowerment in the post-disaster period.

Japan Society's Tea Time Season #3 features reflections on the Great East Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that struck Japan 10 years ago on March 11, 2011. Tea Time Season #3 is proudly supported by Tokio Marine Group and ITO EN (North America) INC.

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